Recommendations for reliable, 4-seater, manual convertibles?

My 2000 Honda Civic might be on its last legs, and I’m using this as an opportunity to look for a new (to me) used car.

I’m looking for something reliable that’s under $10,000. I definitely want to stick with a manual transmission, and 4 seats are a must. I’m not looking for a convertible because I want something super sporty and powerful - I want a convertible because I love the feeling of driving with the top down. (Trying to replicate the experience with 4 windows & the sunroof down doesn’t quite cut it.)

I live in San Francisco, so something small-ish (to get into tight parking spaces) with good gas mileage would be great.

It sounds like Minis are a good option if I can find something in my price point. A Miata would be ideal if it just had 2 extra seats. I’m seeing lots of BMWs posted around here, but some initial searches online indicated they’re a lot more expensive to maintain. Any thoughts on these or other cars?

In SF city traffic, a manual transmission is a great big pain in the leg. I used to drive a manual, and don’t miss it in my commuter cars. Look at a used Toyota Camry Solara SLE convertible around 2005 model year. It’s comfortable, quiet and luxurious. It doesn’t have a manual transmission, and I bet you won’t miss it. When new, this was the best convertible bargain on the market. Test drive one and see if you like it. If you must have a manual transmission, look at the Mustang around 2006.

Thanks for the recs!

Commuter traffic hasn’t been much of an issue for me. I was without a manual transmission in another car several years ago and definitely missed it - there’s just something more fun about driving a stick.

Any particular reason for looking at Mustangs from around 2006? Would something older be an issue?

If ou want a convertible, you should include a Mustang. You will have a better chance of finding a manual then in most other 4 Seaters. Your other options are the Chrysler Sebring but most or all seem to have automatic and the best things you can say about the convertable is, it’s cheap and it’s a convertible.

I have a 2 seat '04 T’bird and it is great. In a 4 seater you have a few options. I’d go for a Toyota Solara convertible as the best choice. Saab made a nice 4 person convertible, but not sure about service since Saab is basically out of business. A mini is worth a look, but it might be too small. BMW makes a nice 4 seat convertible. If the Ford Mustang back seat is big enough it is worth a look. You can find a Chrysler Sebring Convertible for a cheap price but they are trouble prone and have a weak subframe so they don’t handle well, and have body shake that makes it feel loose and rattly on uneven pavement.

10000 may be enough for a 30 years old Porsche

I will second Uncle Turbo’s suggestion of a Toyota Solara.
The selection of Solaras with manual transmission may be very limited, but it is worth doing some searching, as this is an exceptionally reliable vehicle.

@VDCDriver A fellow down the street bough a Solara convertible for his wife(he drives a Ford F150 truck) and she not only loves it but looks terrific droving it with the top down.

And it’s probably the most reliable convertible you can buy.

Newer cars are more reliable. That’s why I suggested 2006, which will set you back about $10,000 with the 6 cylinder engine and 5 speed manual. But the Solara is a much nicer car. You just can’t ooze down the street in the Mustang as well as in a Solara.

While a Solara would be great, I just checked There are zero manual models for sale anywhere in the USA between $9-11,000. Plenty (90) of automatics, though

Thanks for the suggestions!

I may consider the Solara after all.

Apparently my husband is super against Mustangs. His objection is that they’re big and drive like a tank - we rented one about a year ago and it wasn’t the best driving experience.

@UncleTurbo - assuming I could find a mechanic who services Saabs (mine might, I don’t know), how are they as far as overall reliability?

Yikes! I’d much prefer a BMW 3 series convertible over a Saab. There were several in your price range.

And if you and your husband didn’t like the Mustang’s handling, you may be disappointed by the Solara…

Pre-GM Saabs were very solid cars, but that goes back to the '80’s and '90’s models which are simply getting too old to be considered reliable daily drivers. The Saab 9-3 Convertibles from the early 2000’s weren’t too bad, but their might be parts issues at this point since Saab is basically a dead brand with no servicing dealers anymore. Basic parts are still available, but repairs take longer as parts have to be searched for and found.

You might want to rethink the need for seating 4. A Miata with a standard shift is a great car. Honda 2000 standard shift is another great choice. I love my '04 T’bird but alas no manual transmission was made for that car, it would be a blast in a 6 speed stick. Yah, a Corvette is nice - yah that’s the ticket!

The only two folks I knew with 9-3 convertibles had them both bought back under lemon laws. Several years had major problems with extremely complex top retraction mechanisms.

I believe the only transmission offered in the Solara convertible was an automatic. It was built in a Lexus plant in Japan, not the Kentucky plant.

Whoa, a convertible in SF sounds cold! I’m with you though, I live near SF and I want a smaller car that I can drive around the city easily, and my Sienna is not that car. I wouldn’t think a Mustang would be either, maybe a 1965 1/2 Pony interior Mustang convertible…[sigh!]

As in the other thread I started, I am still thinking VW Golf, but the MINI is very tempting!