Review by Justin Pritchard

Originally published May 7, 2013

In honour of the first day of summer 2014, we dig up these used convertible recommendations from our man Justin Pritchard.

1999 Mazda Miata
1999 Mazda Miata
1999 Mazda Miata.
2004 Audi TT
2004 Audi TT
2004 Audi TT. Click image to enlarge

Summer: the bugs are in the air, the temperature is climbing and the roads are finally free of salt, sand and other wintertime nastiness. This combination of stimuli inevitably prompts the brains of car lovers everywhere to start considering a new-to-them convertible for maximum enjoyment of the warm-weather travel season to follow.

Owning a convertible is a good thing – especially considering the volume of worthy drop-top options that are entering the used market at more affordable prices than ever.

And so, we present a list of some of the most affordable and popular used drop-tops in the market, some of the most popular reasons for considering each, and some of the most common issues they should be inspected for ahead of your purchase.

Not mechanically inclined? Looking for extra peace of mind? Visit your favourite mechanic and ask him to take a closer look at your used convertible candidates. Remember – a pre-purchase visual inspection may cost $100 to $200, but could save you thousands in repairs down the line.

1999 – 2005 Mazda Miata (MX-5)

The Draw: Arguably the world’s most successful roadster, the Japanese-built Mazda Miata combines addicting driving dynamics with exceptional fuel economy. This is sports motoring in arguably its purest form – and it’s a two-seater that’s also reliable and sensible. Look for features like antilock brakes, Bose audio, power accessories, leather seating and a CD changer.

The Checks: Check around the lower door sills, wheel-wells, and trunk-lid area for signs of rust. Ditto underneath. Also, check for signs of oil leakage down the side of the engine block, which could indicate a bad gasket. You’ll also want to check for signs of mildew, moisture or rust in the foot wells and under the carpeting in the trunk area.

Owner Reviews: Mazda Miata MX-5 1999-2004

2001 – 2006 Audi TT Convertible

The Draw: The Audi TT boasted plenty of selection, very unique looks, and typical Audi ride and handling dynamics. Quattro all-wheel drive was also on board – maximizing year-round traction and confidence for owners who don’t store their sports cars in winter months. Relatively fuel efficient and unique for its price, this instantly recognizable Audi ragtop is a hot buy in the used market. Four- or six-cylinder power was available.

The Checks: Read this twice: be absolutely sure you’re aware of the mileage on your used TT’s timing belt, and change it religiously. If it snaps, you’re out an engine. Lumpy performance could be the result of bad ignition coil packs – a common and well-documented issue on numerous VW and Audi products as they age. Check models with the V6 engine for coolant leaks around the thermostat housing. Look at the underside of the rocker panels for signs of rust and damage, possibly caused by jacking, on earlier models.

Owner Reviews: Audi TT 2000-2005

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