Home » It’s Ragtop Season So Here Are Ten Awesome Convertibles Under $10,000

It’s Ragtop Season So Here Are Ten Awesome Convertibles Under $10,000

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With warm weather sweeping nigh-on all of North America at this point, it’s about that time of year for the roofs to come down on convertibles, should you have a car with a removable roof. If you don’t and have always wanted a convertible, there’s no time like the present to get cracking, because hitting the road with your ceiling stowed is a truly special experience.

In fact, we love convertibles enough that many of us have voted with our wallets. David has a Wrangler, Lewin has an Audi TT roadster, Mercedes has a Honda Beat and a Saturn Sky, and I have a Porsche Boxster. The best bit? None of them took convincing. We each arrived at the roofless conclusion on our own, which means there must be something to it.

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The rules here are very simple: Each car must have a removable roof, each one must’ve sold on an online auction platform for less than $10,000 in the past week or so, and each sale must be reasonable repeatable, so nothing massively under market value. Fortunately, that still leaves an overwhelming amount of choice, so let’s run down some of the coolest.

1989 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 — $9,501

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Let’s kick things off with an American icon. More than 30 years after the end of its production run, the Fox body Mustang decidedly rules. It’s a slice of iconic, forward-thinking American speed, and this five-speed 1989 ragtop just scratches the V8 cool itch so well. From the period-correct five-spoke dished wheels to the drop to the redder-than-red paint, this thing’s desire with a 140-mph speedometer.

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Even better, it’s a five-speed car breathing through a full exhaust system, so it’s going to make all the right noises and let you command all the right shifts. While the drop-top fox bodies used to be at the bottom of the Mustang heap, these cars are getting collectable. Even if the ragtop had the torsional rigidity of a wet noodle, $9,501 feels like a good price for an example like this.

2010 Saab 9-3 2.0T — $4,100

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On first glance, this Saab 9-3 seems like a reasonably practical left-field choice. After all, it has four seats, is from this millennium, and has less than 50,000 miles on the clock. Sure, it may have its share of cosmetic scars, but the interior’s in shockingly good shape, and the air-con is still said to be operational. However, at $4,100, there are a few issues worth noting. The fabric for the roof is deteriorating, so that’ll be due for replacement soon. In addition, the Cars & Bids listing claims that power top operation “works intermittently,” and that’s not massively confidence inspiring when the whole car brand doesn’t really exist anymore.

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Is this Saab 9-3 well-bought or well-sold? That depends on whether you prefer to buy on mileage or condition. On mileage, $4,100 for a cabriolet with 49,700 miles on the clock is an excellent deal. On condition alone, it feels priced about fair, if not a tad high. A hit on the Carfax does bring the resale value down, but if you’re shopping the auction sites and looking to spend as little as possible, something like this is it. And you know what? For an urban runabout cabriolet, this 9-3 is where it’s at. It’s practical enough, comfortable enough, easy enough, and pockmarked enough that you can take it anywhere, hop out with the top down, do your stuff, and then carry on to the next location. If that isn’t freedom, I don’t know what is.

2002 Lexus SC 430 — $8,000

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How about the exact opposite of that Saab? Something in great cosmetic shape from a brand that’s a byword in reliability, but it has nigh-on moon mileage. Well, say hello to this 2002 Lexus SC 430. At first glance, you’d never guess that it has 203,100 miles on the clock, but that’s just how big Lexuses of this era are. The ruched Garfield upholstery still looks reasonably fresh, there’s no undue button wear, no massive scuffs in the paint … it’s just a brilliant-looking car.

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Granted, it has seen some cosmetic work. Two Carfax-reported collisions mean this SC’s seen some fresh paint over the years. However, it’s been years since the work was done, and if the car’s still on the road, looking decent, and trading hands for the right price, that’s no hardship. Plus, there’s more good news: More than 20 years after the launch of the SC 430, Clarkson and Co.’s vitriol towards it has faded. Below $10,000, these are tremendous convertibles that’ll offer nigh-on the luxury of a Mercedes-Benz SL without anywhere near the number of problems an SL can bring you.

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1998 Mercedes-Benz SL500 — $8,000

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But hang on — what if you do actually want an SL, and an R129 on monoblocks at that? First off, congratulations for having outstanding taste. Secondly, you might want to have a look at this recently sold one on Hemmings Auctions, because it’s singing all the right notes for $8,000. Wheels? Tick. Spec? Tick. Hardtop? Tick. Fantastic 32-valve M119 V8? Tick. Yep, this is the one you want, alright.

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Remember when you used to be able to tell how expensive a car was by how far the carpet went up? Yep, this thing has it in spades as the last of the true engineered-to-a-standard Benzes, and it’s just a lovely, lovely thing to do some miles in. At $8,000 with 136,496 miles on the clock, I’d consider this example well bought, even if the interior of the 1996-up cars was decontented compared to the cabin of the 1990 to 1995 SL convertibles.

2005 Mini Cooper S Convertible — $8,800

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Alright, cruising over, let’s talk engagement. The reborn Mini Cooper was a stroke of brilliance, and chopping its roof off only added to the housefly feeling. Not only does this manual Cooper S Convertible have a limited-slip differential, but it’s also equipped with the John Cooper Works tuning package, which means it gets a spicy 207 horsepower thanks to new injectors, a new supercharger pulley, a revised cylinder head, a new airbox, and an ECU remap. Oh yeah, this’ll get after it.

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Even if the car market’s coming down, a final Bring A Trailer hammer price of $8,800 feels about fair for a California example with 84,000 miles on the clock and a few cosmetic imperfections. Although modern Minis aren’t exactly easy cars to care for, this is a cabriolet someone will have a ton of fun with.

2001 Mazda MX-5 Miata Special Edition — $9,050

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No list of cheap convertibles is complete without a Miata, so here’s a properly good one. The second-generation NB Miata may have lost its pop-ups, but it gained a host of liveability and performance improvements that make it a more capable starting point than the NA we all know and love. This one’s more capable than most, with a Torsen helical limited-slip differential and the six-speed manual transmission rounding out the list of factory performance hardware.

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More importantly, this 76,500-mile 2001 Special Edition is actually nice, with gleaming green paint, fairly taut upholstery, and a lovely wood-rimmed wheel with the shift knob and handbrake lever to match. Plus, it has a full Flyin’ Miata exhaust system, Koni dampers with Flyin’ Miata springs, and a set of Enkei wheels. This Miata’s proper, and given how proper ones are starting to get thin on the ground, $9,050 isn’t a bad price for an exceptional example.

2003 Porsche Boxster — $9,000

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Here’s the thing about MX-5s, though — nice ones cost nigh-on as much as a Porsche Boxster, and although the Porsche will be substantially more expensive to maintain, it might be the one to have if you grew up with a Porsche poster on your bedroom wall. I did, so I actually bought an original Boxster, and you can too. Here’s one that recently sold on Cars & Bids for $9,000.

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Sure, this one might not be rocking the most imaginative color combination in the world, but it’s a 2003 model year car, so it gets some nice upgrades like a glovebox, a glass rear window, some upgraded interior materials, and a boost to 225 horsepower. Alright, so it has a hit on its Carfax and could use both a cut-and-polish and IMS bearing replacement, but this is a serious amount of car for $9,000, and Porsche parts support is an incredible luxury to enjoy. As far as cheap sports convertibles go, this is a genuinely great one.

2003 Audi TT Roadster Quattro 225 — $6,910

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Then again, maybe you prefer your cabriolets from another German brand. We’re big fans of the original Audi TT, with Lewin having one in his personal stable. The manual Quattro 225 is the model to have, and here’s one that recently hammered for the reasonable price of $6,910 with 98,000 miles on the clock.

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From the deep blue paint to the seven-spoke wheels to the silver roll hoops, this TT’s a slice of Y2K nostalgia done right, and it has both a clean Carfax and the coveted baseball glove stitching on the seats. For less than $7,000, this is a pretty solid little roadster for summer fun.

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1990 Cadillac Allante — $7,800

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Well, that ought to do it for German convertibles. How about an American cruiser? Well, part-American, but still. The Cadillac Allante was a massively misunderstood car, built to compete with the Mercedes-Benz SL and beloved by Cadillac fans and, um, that’s about it. Still, these intriguing and rare convertibles make for cushy summer cruisers, like this one that recently sold on Bring A Trailer.

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With just 53,000 miles on the clock and an interior festooned in immaculate maroon leather, this candy cane Caddy ought to soak up roads and elicit smiles everywhere it goes. Sure, the chrome wheels might not be to everyone’s tastes, but they fit the car relatively well, and you could do a whole lot worse for $7,800 than a well-kept drop-top Cadillac.

1987 Jeep Wrangler — $8,000

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We can’t have a list of reasonably priced convertibles without mentioning one of America’s biggest icons. For more than 80 years, the Jeep has been the roofless off-roader, and this YJ is exactly where the Wrangler lineage began. While many examples have suffered from salt over the years, this southern-owned Wrangler has survived, and it’s sporting some proper off-road goodies.

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We’re talking about 33-inch tires, tube bumpers, steel fenders, and half-doors. Sure, this isn’t anywhere near a showroom stock example, but if your idea of top-down fun involves bogging deep and/or scaling obstacles, this is your ticket right here. Plus, with 66,500 miles on the clock, this five-speed Wrangler is barely broken in.

So, which of these reasonably priced convertibles has your interest? Perhaps something cushy, or something sporty, or even something off-roady. There really are no bad choices here, because

(Photo credits: Bring A Trailer, Cars & Bids, Hemmings Auctions)

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Myk El
Myk El
30 days ago

I’m just not a drop top person. I wouldn’t mind a good example of that Saab, but I don’t think it’d be a good idea in Tucson where I would simply burn up.

Otter
Otter
1 month ago

How is the BMW 1-series cabrio not on this list? The 128i is cute, small enough to allow (but discourage) extra passengers, reliable, and though manuals are thin on the ground, top-down cruising can be plenty enjoyable without a third pedal. The very first result at the very first place I looked had a recent sale at $9,150: https://bringatrailer.com/listing/2008-bmw-128i-convertible-7/

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
1 month ago

If the interior’s were a bit better and one could have one with a MT, my favorite in this category would be a Chrysler LeBaron like the one Veronica Mars drives in the early seasons. Ideally in a fun color, too – I remember a really cool teal from back in the day, I think?

Ca Hu
Ca Hu
1 month ago

no e46 on the list either. the tiny back seats are probably just big enough for my son to squeeze in for a family drive.

Red865
Red865
1 month ago
Reply to  Ca Hu

Can confirm kids fit in back of E46 fine. My wife still misses her 2000 323 E46 Conv. I don’t. Don’t think a single month went by without have to fix something…usually plastic failure related. Bailed at 187k mi…several ‘big’ repairs were on the horizon.
The E46 Conv. was light years better than my 89 LX 5.0 Conv. Stang. Well, except for cost of maintenance and the torquey V8.

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