I Don't have a Clue!

I will be purchasing my first car on my own. I am 55 and I have always wanted to own a convertible. I’ve never paid attention to what a car looks like or what color it is, just that I am able to reach the foot pedals and see over the steering wheel. I’m 5’1". I can’t afford a new car so I am looking for a used model that has a good reliability rating. I live in West Virginia so the car needs to be able to go in summer and winter. Can anyone offer any suggestions?



I’m not sure of the reliability, but a PT Cruiser convertible would probably be a good choice. Also, GM made Pontiac Sunfire and Chevy Cavalier convertibles - they’d be cheap, but again, I’m not sure of their reliability. You can check out reliability ratings from real owners at carsurvey.org

While I don’t particulary care for it, my mother absolutely loves her Volvo V70 Convertible. 127k on the clock right now and no major problems. It gets 22 MPG with a very short 4 mile commute. It’s front wheel drive with traction control, so it can go in the snow. The things I don’t like about it are it’s slow, the 2.4L Turbo 5 banger is weak off the line, but once you get going it’s ok. It doesn’t handle as well as you would expect given it’s sporty looks (it weighs alot) and the turning circle is bad even by FWD standards. But if you aren’t concerned with razor sharp handling and gobs of low end torque, it’s definately worth a look.

I too favor the PT Cruiser for you. Also check out the Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, and Mazda Miata. They’re all summer & winter cars.

It may not be easy to find these cars for sale locally. BTW, the converible thrill soon wears off. One approach for you may be to rent a convertible (e.g., a Mustang) for the summer on a 30-day or 60-day lease, just to get it out of your system, then buy a normal sedan.

What a wonderful idea to rent a car. I had no idea that was even an option. My commute to work is about 1 mile and I usually go home once a month which is about a 2 1/2 hour interstate drive. I did read an article they were phasing out the PT Cruiser Convertible but there wasn’t any info on why. Does it make any difference if you purchase an auto that is no longer being produced?

I can offer a possible reason: it’s ugly as sin. What happens when you take a car that looks like a hearse and chop its roof off? A convertible car that looks like a hearse.

I’d second SteveF’s idea about renting a convertible before you buy one to see if it’s what you really want. It was a bit different than what I’d imagined when I rented one, but I loved it. Others may not. And I really doubt you’ll enjoy driving one in the winter; with the top up, most convertibles are hard to see out of when it comes to anything behind you. Something to consider.

For your size and desire for reliability, I think the Mazda Miata is the perfect choice for you. Small, and from everything I’ve ever heard, very reliable. I’d also look at the Mitsubishi Eclipse, not sure about its reliability, but what a fun convertible to drive (and good looking too!).

Have fun shopping and good luck!

I suggest that you look at two. A used Pontiac G6 and a used Toyota Camry Solara. Make sure they have a power seat so that you can adjust forward/backward/ up/down, and tilt. MY personal favorite is the Solara convertible. The G6 offers a reclining hard roof instead of a soft one. The Solara has a soft top but it is still quiet. Take a test drive in both and see if you like either of them. BTW, how much do you want to spend?

How much do I want to spend? Well…that’s another area I’ll have to get educated in. I think I will be able to make about a $4,000 down payment and I should be able to make a car payment around $200 or so a month. Of course, I don’t have a clue what price range that puts me in so I guess I need to go to the bank and find out what my options are there too.

Figure about 20% of the actual cost into payments. so that’d put you into about 10 grand, which should be a newer Miata(maybe 02~04).
I’ll also throw in a vote for the Miata. I test drove a brand new one last year, and if I didn’t have my Chevelle at the time, I might have just signed for the car, total impulse buy. I couldn’t really speed in it because the wind would beat me to death at speeds over 70MPH(which is kinda hard to go that slow on the outerbelt of Columbus), but I’m 5’10". add 4 winter tires on separate rims and you’ll have an all year car.

You question tugs at my heart strings. My Dearly Departed (Recently) Aunt was a “Rosie the Riveter.” She died of breast cancer, still in love with her husband who died during the war. My Dad never tolerated her being taken advantage of, and he taught her how to work on her own cars. There were many days my dad and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth would work on cars and talk cars for hours. I live in the rockies - not next to, actually in the rockies. Seen lots of snow. I have been very happy with my extremely reliable 93 Ford Explorer which has 225,000 miles on it and it still runs like new. Fortuneatley, the person I bought it from towed it behind a motor home. If you have a lot of snow in your area, do yourself a favor and buy a used car that has been proven to be reliable. It is hard to find a used Explorer, and that should tell you something. If you don’t need four wheel drive still buy Ford. Not any of the new models because they haven’t been proved yet. I’ve been a government fleet mechanic for years. There is a reason why governemnt agencies buy mostly Ford products.