We take a look at the best cabriolets for under £5K…

The experts will tell you it’s not the best time to buy a convertible, but they’ll also tell you it’s definitely the best time to have one. So on this occasion, we can skip the rulebook especially when you look at the bargains that are out there. So if you’re planning on going shopping we’ve put together this little guide to help you decide on what drop top is best for you!

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

1.  Audi TT – priced from £2,500
It’s still hard to believe how cheap Audi TTs are these days, you can get them even cheaper than the quoted price too, but if you’re going to buy one you’ll want a 225 version that hasn’t been to the moon and back via Jupiter on the way.

Being a VAG there’s absolutely loads of tuning and styling parts available for the TT and with the right touches you’ll be able to quadruple the perceived value of your Audi. Check the service history for oil changes as they have a habit of suffering from oil sludge that can block the pick-up pipe in sump, which can cause catastrophic engine failure!

Also check for cheeky sellers passing 180s off for the 225s – A top tip for this is to check that the throttle body is on right hand side of the inlet manifold and not the left!

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

2. BMW Z4 – priced from £3,500
We simply couldn’t believe our eyes when we looked up the price of these stylish BMW roadsters; cheap as Chinese chips. The Z4 was released with a choice of six pot engines, 2.2, 2.5 or the flagship (at the time) 3-litre lump.

All are super-smooth, as you would expect from the German manufacturer, and if you can stretch to a 2006 (starting at about £6,500) 3.0-litre model you’ll get another 35bhp and a 0 to 60 time of 5.7-seconds! Steer clear of the sluggish 2.0-litre and make sure the car has been regularly serviced and that the oil is fresh and we don’t think you’ll go far wrong with one of these stylish 2-seaters.

They are well catered for in the aftermarket scene but we’d keep the touches simple and classy to match the car’s style.

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

3. Porsche Boxster 986 – priced from £4,500
On the face of it buying a cheap Porsche Boxster seems like a great idea but delve deeper and talk of RMS leaks and IMS bearing can be a real turn off. Now, while these problems shouldn’t be ignored, they shouldn’t end your Porsche dream either. You just need to make sure you find a car that has had an uprated IMS fitted or one cheap enough to warrant spending £1500 getting it replaced – it can be a great haggling tool.

If you do take this route bear in mind that you might as well change the clutch at the same time. Or you could simply run the calculated risk that the IMS will be fine, the chances are it will be.

We know a few people with 986s and they all rave about them, so our advice is to spend a little more (buy a 3k Boxster and you’re asking for trouble), get the S badge and buy one that has a faultless service history. Then have some fun with modification; first step is to get that flat six roaring with a new exhaust!

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

4. VW Beetle – priced from £1,500
Now, any car that comes from the factory with a ‘dash-vase’ isn’t exactly spitting testosterone out of its exhaust, so when VW decided to cut its roof off and build a soft top version even more well-plucked eye-browse were raised. Still with some well chosen gender reassignment modifications this can be sorted out.

One thing that you will struggle to sort out though is the car’s performance, as the engine line up doesn’t exactly get the blood pumping. With only a 1.4, 1.6 and sluggish 8v 2.0-litre petrol engines (where was the 1.8T or VR5?) in the line up we’d opt for the 100bhp 2.0-litre TDi version. At least that way you can get some torque behind you.

It’s saving grace? Well it’s a VW on a MK4 Golf platform so as you can imagine chassis modifications are a plenty, so nail the stance and go from there!


Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

5. Nissan 350Z – priced from £5,000
Do you know what, the 350Z probably isn’t as good a roadster as the S2000, so why then has it come out tops in our convertible-buying guide? Well there’s a few reasons, one of the being they are an untapped source of modifying. Even though it seems there are plenty of them for sale, you rarely see one on the road. Another is the V6 engine; it’s an absolute peach and sounds amazing when you’re giving it the beans in a hardtop coupe model, so just imagine what it sounds like with the roof down.

Rightly or wrongly a lot of drop tops suffer with a bit of an image problem of the hairdressers variety but not the 350Z, the 280bhp, 3.5-litre engine and chunky body screams anything but Toni & Guy.

Slam one of these on Air Lift suspension, bolt on a Japspeed exhaust and downpipe and chuck on a set of girthy rims and you could call UFC’s Conor McGregor a bus stop wanker as you cruise past and he’d probably let it go. Probably best not to test that theory thinking about it. Anyway, what are you waiting for, go and buy one!


Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

6. Honda S2000 – priced from £5,000
Will you get a Honda S2000 for under 5k? Well yes, but it’ll be a CAT D repaired motor, realistically to get a nice one with a clean history you’re going to need 6k and a bit more, but we just couldn’t leave it out of this guide… they are absolutely stonking cars and prices wont fall much (if at all) before they start to appreciate, so it might be time to invest!

Being a Honda, the S2000 will be the most reliable of all our picks with relatively low running costs but that definitely doesn’t make them boring; 236bhp and a rear wheel drive put pay to that theory. It’s one of those cars that will eat up the miles too, so a high mileage example shouldn’t put you off, because of their reliability a lot of people would have used them as their daily.

Modification wise, the world is your lobster with plenty of aftermarket tuning, styling and chassis upgrades and we just love a Spoon hardtop on these cars. Go buy one. You won’t regret it!

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

7. Mazda MX-5 – priced from £700
No convertible buying guide would be complete without mentioning Mazda’s legendary MX-5, a car that reinvented the 2-seater roadsters market! Good Mk1s are getting rare now but if you can find one, snap it up, give it some tasteful retro mods and watch your investment grow.

The second generation MX is much easier to find with plenty of clean, albeit high mileage, examples available for less than a bag of sand. Modifications are a plenty and you’re less likely to upset the purists by adding a BGW and dumping it on the floor!

We doubt you’ll find another car that can match the MX-5s smiles per miles, so this is the one for you if you’re on a budget!

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

8. BMW 3 Series – priced from £1,500
Convertible BMWs seem to hold their prices relatively well, and while researching costs for this feature it seems that the E36 and E46 are at the price cross-over point, where similar spec cars are worth the same kind of money.

The E46 is starting to enter middle-aged car mediocrity, while the E36 is coming out the other side and entering retro-coolness. It’ll be down to personal preference to which road you’ll go down with this one, the E46 with a nice set of rims and a decent stance still looks like an expensive car, while you’ll score some serious scene points if you’re rolling a well-modified E36.

Our tip here is to look for well looked after example and pay a premium for it, a lot of 3 Series will have been abused, and a cheapy might cost you in the long run! We reckon 2.5 to 3k will get you something decent though!

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

9. Ford StreetKA – priced from £500
Okay, so this is one for the ladies (especially the baby pink version), as the cute KA isn’t exactly the most hardcore of cars, a pissed off Vin Diesel would struggle to look tough stepping out of one of these.

The fact is though; it’s a cool looking thing that hasn’t aged like its hard-topped sister and when you think 500-quid will buy you a tidy example and £1200 a low-mileage, high-spec’d Luxury model, you can’t really go wrong.

Our advices is buy a wig, slap on some foundation and go get one, we won’t tell anyone if you don’t!

Best Convertible Cars Under £5k

10. Wild card choice
So you don’t like the usual suspects and want to purchase something quirky? Well there’s plenty of choice out there, I mean when was the last time you saw a Focus CC-2 roll down the street? I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen one. The same goes for the VW Eos. Two more than capable and reliable drop tops that don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve.

Then there is Peugeot’s RCZ that is a futuristic looking machine that blossoms once a nice set of hoops are bolted under the arches. You’ll have to spend a good 8-grand to get one though, but then again they are relatively new cars!

Then you have Mercedes Benz’s SLK or BMW 6 Series, or even Saab’s turbocharged 9-3, there’s not loads of aftermarket parts for them but then you don’t need loads to stand out from the crowd… because there is no crowd.