Manual or Power Convertible Top?

Looking at several older convertible models. Some have the power top, which is cool looking in action. Others have the manual top, and most are easy to open/close. Many of the power models actually require a manual step (securing boot, etc.). Some were power but now are manual (power motor inoperative). Would the type of top (power or manual) be a point of purchase for you, all other things considered? Thanks for your advice.

I wouldn’t buy a ragtop, myself, but to each his own. They’re a lot of extra trouble and expense. If I wanted the “open air experience” from time to time, I’d get a sunroof/moonroof or a T-top.

A manual system is certainly going to be one less thing to break. And if the motorized system breaks, and it’s starting to rain, can you close it manually in a hurry? I’m a bit leery of any motorized accessory that will leave me in the lurch if it fails. If you’re looking at a motorized top, and you can disengage the motor and close it manually without straining yourself, go for it. Can your wife/gf close it manually without breaking a fingernail? (you’ll never hear the end of that one!)

Power tops are generally reliable. Not an issue for me whether it is a power or manual top.

I won’t buy a car with a power top that is broken without either an estimate from a shop on the repair costs, or having the buyer get it fixed prior to purchase.

I’ve owned 2 convertibles with power tops, a '61 Merc and '04 Thunderbird. Never any problems with the top mechanisms.

This is about the last item I’d worry about. I’d find a car with great looks, good handling, and good acceleration that is comfortable. The Riviera was offered as a convertible from 1982-1985. You might find one with the turbocharged 3.8L engine; beware of the dreaded 350 diesel!

After I posted this reply, I came across a discussion of the 350 GM diesel. The writer was a mechanic and saw a lot of failed 350 diesels. His opinion was that the owner’s were not familiar with diesel engines and did not use them in a way that was appropriate. The fuel of the day was not up to today’s standards, which led to corroded engine parts. If the owner’s had warmed them up thoroughly first, there would have been fewer failures from moisture damage.

Rather than worrying about the way that the convertible top raises and lowers, I would suggest that you focus on how well the manufacturer built the car in terms of resisting “cowl shake”.

On all too many cars, the convertible version will suffer from shaking of the cowl structure on rough pavement. In addition to being an annoyance, this can also contribute to poor handling of the vehicle because the entire chassis/frame is flexing due to inadequate bracing. I would strongly suggest that your test drive of any potential vehicles includes driving on rough pavement and over RR tracks in order to observe how the vehicle’s structure handles this type of stress.