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Why There Should Be a Convertible in Your Future!


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By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor, Chicago Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel

Editor's Note: I heartily agree with the author... as an owner (and user) of a 1990 Mazda RX-7 convertible (my everyday drive) if its not raining and the temperature is above 40 degrees(F) and below 100 the top is down, making even a trip for a gallon of milk a pleasure.

I recently spent an entire day driving and evaluating seventeen different current model year convertible cars that are offered on the U. S. market today. If you haven’t checked lately, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Fiat, Ford, Infiniti, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, MINI, Nissan, Smart and VW all offer a convertible or two. Buick will add for 2016 the 4-seat Cascada to its U.S. offerings. More personal-luxury convertibles can be had from Alfa, Aston-Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Rolls-Royce. Find your perfect convertible match


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You might think that a convertible won’t work in your household fleet. Perhaps you feel they are not comfortable and are noisy. Or, are not safe, or perhaps risky for break-ins, or have too-small a trunk space. You also might think the top is too difficult and time-consuming to lower and raise. These negative perceptions of a convertible are not prevalent today.

Some recent industry data on convertibles says that more folks are giving them consideration. Data from Experian Automotive suggests that seems to largely be the empty-nester baby-boom generation since they no longer need a vehicle with lots of seats to haul the family around. They’ve “put-in-their-time” and now it’s time for a car for me, or perhaps us.


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The current global convertible market is around 500,000 vehicles per year. By 2020 that number is expected to grow by 194,000 units. Sixty-eight percent of consumers feel that soft-top convertibles are the best open-air option. And, sixty-seven percent of consumers would like to see more affordable soft-top offerings.

Between 2009 and 2014 there has been a ten percent increase in the number of convertible models offering soft-tops and a 28 percent increase in the number of soft-top convertibles built. It is forecasted that between 2014 and 2016 there will be another 10 percent in the number of soft-top convertible options and a 47 percent increase in the number of soft-top convertibles produced.

Experian Automotive also reports that there were 4.5 million convertible vehicles on U.S. roads in the first quarter of 2014, making up 1.8 percent of the entire vehicle market.

Convertibles no longer are noisy, don’t leak water when it rains, nor are the tops difficult to raise and lower. The top material itself is multi-layer to help keep heat in when it’s cold and keep heat out when perhaps air conditioning is desired. Soft-top convertibles are power-operated to raise and lower at the push of a button. Plus, these soft-tops are designed to be raised and lowered while driving at speeds, for example up to 30 mph. Power windows make for easy opening and closing.


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The rear backlight is glass with a built-in defroster element. The fogged-up plastic back window of days of old is no longer an issue. Wind deflectors channel the air flow over you head. Your best hairdo pretty much stays in place. Hard-boots or self-forming boots cover the retracted soft-top.

Safety is in the forefront too. Convertibles today feature strategically reinforced body structure as well as spring-loaded, pyrotechnically activated roll bars behind the front seats that are linked to the air bag system.

The material used today for convertible tops is very high-tech. The Haartz Corporation is the leading global supplier of topping material for soft-top convertibles, with manufacturing facilities in Acton, Mass., and Mannheim, Germany. Soft-top convertibles offer drivers an unparalleled experience behind the wheel, while maintaining the distinctive look and feel of an open-air vehicle with the top up or down.


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Plastic and textile technology has progressed to allow drivers to enjoy the benefits traditionally associated with coupes and hard-tops while maintaining the unique convertible look. Haartz products are engineered to provide year-round driving with safety, comfort and acoustics in mind:

 Soft-tops are much more compact; leaving owners with more use of trunk space.

 Haartz Twillfast and Sonnenland products have offered improvements for numerous OEMs including: GM, Chrysler, Ford, BMW, Audi, VW, Bentley, Jaguar, and Porsche.

 New developments in acoustical topping materials have improved the sound blocking performance of the top covers by over 3dB(A).

 Modern convertible tops are treated to keep fabric looking new for the entire life of the vehicle with simple regular care and cleaning.


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I would say, if you are considering a two-door car and don’t live on some frozen tundra, a convertible is worthy of consideration. My personal liking is convertible driving not so much on the interstate but on state-roads at speeds of 55mph of less. The interstate noise level no matter what kind of vehicle you are driving is not very comfortable. The serenity and fun of a winding country road or a cruise along a favorite section of two-lane blacktop is convertible driving at it’s best.

A recent article in the New York Times spoke to the return of the convertible. Here’s the link to a story of mine from earlier this year on The Auto Channel detailing many of the new convertibles that are available today (HERE)

Imagine this: You leave home on a comfortable, warm mid-summer morning with the top down. A stop for coffee with a business-associate has you raising the top in a mere 15 seconds, or less. Get back in the car and the top goes does down, again in under 15 seconds. Later in the day you head out from your office to drive to a business meeting with the top down. Along the way an afternoon rain shower begins and you raise the top without stopping while driving at 30mph.

If this appears to be a viable way to enjoy the open-air and still have a solid and convenient-to-operate car to get you around to your day’s work or for weekend fun you might just be right for a convertible.

2015 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy