Most Reliable Used European Convertible(80k miles+)


If everyone would allow me a little freedom, I know this might get old. I am trying to find a decently reliable European convertible under 20k(less if possible) with under 80k miles, preferably 2008 and on. I don’t make a lot of money but my mother always wanted a Audi convertible or something similar. She is sick and while I hope she gets through it, but I’d like to try and see if I can get her something. If you go on the Audi forum, they’ll say Audi’s are the best and bmws break all the time and vice versa. I care a lot less about sensors than I do the actual drive terrain of the vehicle and the convertible function. Obviously I know some matter, I just mean things that might break that won’t really hurt the core function.

Does anyone have an opinion based in fact and not preference?

BMW has the 1 series as well as the 3 series that can be had at that price point but I’ve been told that there is a wide disparity in the lower series as opposed to the 6,7,8. I’ve heard the 1’s also have a lot of timing chain issues. Audi’s I’ve been told do not hold up very well past 100k…something about electronics and such. Volvo was mentioned and while it’s not ideal, it might do. Volkswagen EOS has horrible reviews and I’m not familiar with Mercedes.

I know this topic has been made before, probably will happen more but a lot of the topics come down to everyone’s preferences. I am trying to find the most reliable 80K+ European convertible possible. I don’t want a 6k repair bill but maybe that’s just European cars? If it was my own, or if I lived nearby, it would be less of an issue because I haven’t used a mechanic since I was 16 other than for tires but it’s my mother and she may be sick so I don’t want an unreliable or expensive car to stress her out.

If you want to please your mom get her this fine sport car…its a little bit older than what you want but it turns head and Porches are extremely reliable.
1996 - 2004 Porsche Boxster (start from $10,000 - $15,000)
Yep, Porsche Boxster is one of the legendary Porsche that tagged about $10,000 - $15,000. Of course, you only can have 1996 - 2004 Porsche Boxster. But, I think having a Boxster on you garage surely will makes you mom feel so proud. With some high tech feature and also pretty well designed, the Porsche Boxster is one kind of best convertible sports cars that you must have under $20,000 budgets.

The Boxter is a good suggestion for a sports car. If you want a touring car, consider a Mercedes Benz SLK or an Audi A3. For the age car you are looking at, condition is everything. Find a car in superb condition, preferably with all the maintenance records. This is likely only for a one or two owner car. These cars are expensive to repair. When you find a great car in excellent condition, pay a mechanic you trust for a prepurchase inspection to see if there are any unseen problems.

The answer is Mazda Miata. It is always Miata.

European cars are fine, but expensive to fix and an 80,000 mile European ANYthing will require some fixing. Some more than others, as you read about Audis and BMWs and Mercedes and VWs

It is essentially impossible to find a European convertible that will be cheaper to buy, drive and service than a 3 year old or older Miata. Period. My opinion, some will disagree.

That pretty much takes European used high end vehicles out of the picture. Like most mothers she would be against a child spending money they can’t really afford to spend.

I don’t really consider a boxter an incredibly reliable car from what I read and 1 repair…well they tend to be expensive. As for the Miata, they are better than they have been in the past but I’m not a huge fan and they’re small…really really small. I had a S2000 for years and it’s around the same size, you pretty much have to have another car.

Any opinions on a 80k+ Lexus? I hadn’t really considered it but the IS 250/350 can be had for under 20k with 70k miles and I’d say it’s as nice as any European car and comes in a convertible. I’ve been told it’s extremely reliable even past 100k, at least as much as any other car.

I’ll say this, I don’t make tons of money but I’m single and I can eat out less. If she gave up her current car, it wouldn’t be outrageous.

That Lexus would be the best of the bunch, if you can find one. They didn’t sell a lot of them.

What are you basing that on? There are many first year Miata’s on the road. It might be one of the most successful vehicle introductions ever.

Have you even talked to your mother about this because this entire idea seems to be yours and if you think giving up eating out is a solution you are headed for financial ruin and taking your mother with you.

Dude, you have absolutely no idea what my financial status is, eating out, which I do almost every night is a luxury. Not that I eat out at expensive restaurants but still, a lot less If I occasionally eat a frozen meal. I also will outright own my home by 38. My Prius will also be paid off this year and only has 80k miles. She’s my mother, I have a decent idea what she would like

My son has owned two BMWs and two Audis. On your budget, I strongly urge you to forget the European cars. Their cost of ownership is simply too high.

The Miata is an excellent suggestion.

I suggest you look at a Toyota Camry Solara XLE convertible. I think the last year of production was 2008. I looked at one in 2005 and was ready to buy it, but we needed seating for 5. The car is essentially a Lexus, built on the Lexus assembly line in Japan. It’s luxurious and as reliable as any other Camry. It’s still at least ten years old, and you need to have it thoroughly evaluated by your mechanic to find unseen problems.

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I have owned an S2000. It needed virtually nothing in 100,000 miles BUT it isn’t available with an automatic and the newest is a 2009. The Miata has an auto available and I am assuming that’s what Mom would want.

Small is relative. Compared to a Tahoe, yes a Miata is small on the outside. Any but the first generation Miata holds my 5’ 11" 230 lb body very comfortably. And they have ALL been stone solid reliable since day 1.

She shops for home decoration items a lot and while not huge, the Miata is a little small for that. I’ve been more impressed with it the last few years but I never liked the initial design, just not very manly in my opinion. The new ones actually look a lot like the S2000. The old Mazda speeds were pretty sweet but more from a fun perspective. Haha.

I did think of the Solara and if I can find one that’s in decent shape, maybe driven by an older person, I may consider it.

To the OP:

I agree with @COROLLAGUY1 and can point out that depending on your location, a Boxster model year up to 2008 can be within your under 20K price and mileage ranges. There is an issue with the M96 engine (subject of a class action lawsuit) that ended MY 2005-6. From then thru 2008, the less problematic M97 engine was used. Starting with MY 2009, a direct injection engine was used, but those are likely above 20K right now.

And because you didn’t mention what kind of Audi convertible your mom might want, a Boxster is kind of similar to an Audi TT.

One other thing to note is that because the current Porsche Boxster is the 718 with a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and better performance numbers, there are pockets of downward price pressure on older Boxsters with 6-cyl NA engines.

(And if you are interested in a comparison of German auto brands, I suggest considering how Germans in Germany view the brands and models. When I’ve done that, Porsche > Audi > BMW is the general trend among the three, with some who view Audi and BMW as about the same.)

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I had a 2001 Solara cloth top…I miss that beauty! It’s a big car, still has pretty decent trunk space despite the convertible top. I had the leather interior, DBL sound upgrade, etc. The pickup from the V6 was good, and even though I had more of a metal foot back then I was still averaging near 40 on the high ways and 31 overall

One idea, see what Consumer Reports says about the reliability of the options you’re considering. They base their ratings on what problems encountered owners of those cars report to them. I don’t follow the euro cars reliability ratings much, but from what I recall some yr/models of the Boxster and BMW rate pretty good. Audi’s tend not to rate as consistently high overall, but some models do ok. But don’t go by my recollection, see what it says in the CR used car guide.

What KIND of european convertible?


4-seater convertible?

Since the issue of reliability is obviously not important in this case, I’ll stick with what I’m personally familiar with

How about an older Mercedes-Benz SLK or CLK?

SLK is a roadster

CLK is a 4-seater convertible

The SLK is particularly “zippy” while the CLK is more of a comfortable car to drive.

There are plenty in your price range. Get the best one you can for your money.

Do NOT fall prey to temptation and buy an SL. While it’s a particularly fast and nice car, it WILL eat up your savings, when it comes time for maintenance and repairs. Even more so than the others. Guaranteed

And it is NECESSARY to have it inspected by a mechanic before signing anything. Make sure the mechanic is not affiliated with the seller in any way.


Look, you sound like you have a big heart but you need to eat frozen dinners to try to make ends meet and want to buy a European convertible with over 80,000 miles that you can afford. That has good cargo capacity.

Steven, you’re going to have to accept some compromises. These criteria go together like oil and water.

You’re going to have to change your criteria. No fancy European convertible with over 80,000 miles is going to be affordable in your budget. And no European convertible with UNDER 80,000 miles is going to be affordable either.

For the record, forget the Honda 2000 as well. It’s a great handling sports car, but has absolutely zero cargo capacity. I tested one when they first came out.

The Nissan 370Z (or the earlier 350Z, and all the earlier Z’s going back to the original 240Z) is a great car, with a little bit of cargo capacity under the rear hatch… but the newer versions will not be affordable to own. And older ones in good shape will not be affordable to buy. These cars are not designed to be affordable.

Now back to the original post… how’s mom fit into the choice? Is it to be her car or yours? Is she participating in the choice? Is mom providing any financial contribution?

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There are bmw 1 series, 3 series, some Audi’s, some Mercedes that you can get exactly what I was asking about for under 20k, some around 15k. My main concern was reliability. Yes, I did not specify size, sorry, but I did later on. I specifically mentioned the Miata was too small when I mentioned the S2000 and I owned one so I know that it’s way too small.

And also, lots of people eat frozen meals, especially single guys. I never said all of my meals, I specifically stated that I eat out almost every day, I would simply cut back some days…