Top five summer convertibles for all budgets

It doesn't take megabucks to acquire some drop-top summer driving, but if you want to splash out there's no end of deals in the AutoClassics classifieds. Here's something to suit all budgets

With summer in full swing and iced tea cascading around Britain’s beer gardens as forcefully as our inclement weather, now is the time to dig out that wad of cash from under the mattress and get on the blower. It’s convertible season!

We’ve picked a range of the finest convertibles from across the classifieds to fit every budget, meaning all of us petrolheads can come together throughout this year’s hayfever bonanza!

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£2k and under: MGF

The plucky MGF makes a welcome break from MX-5 indoctrinated community, always given the short straw throughout a decade-long run. That is, until MG Rover finally kicked the bucket. With the K-series engine, one might think a soothing bath with your favourite toaster may be more pleasurable, but you would be fantastically wrong.

Slap a Land Rover head gasket on the engine, the very same powerplant shared with the Lotus Elise S1, and you’ll enjoy raucous, trouble-free motoring from less than £500. If you want to go super posh, £3000 will get you a range-topping Trophy 160.

With Alec Issigonis’ ingenious Hydrogas suspension set-up, you’ll annoy your MX-5 counterparts immensely by keeping your vertebrae snugly seated where they’re meant to be. Parts are strewn around the internet with affordable price tags, and they are plentiful, too. Sharing parts with all the stalwarts of Austin Rover’s wavering years, making for some Grade A pub talk, the MGF doesn't require a PHD in Physics when it comes to service time, either.

Despite age setting in, MGFs are still hiding mischievously, awaiting your hard earned cash. Prices remain as rock bottom as Edward Scissorhands' ability to fit in society, and it’s a modern classic capable of being used every day, returning over 40mpg in the process – bang tidy!

£5k: Alfa Romeo 916 Spider

We’ve heard it all before: Alfas always look good because they’re usually stationary in someone’s drive or they look hot because they’re literally on fire. Well, like the British Bulldog above, this is another urban myth! Yes, Alfas can let you down in the same way that Mario could let you down on your Nintendo 64 if you were too busy tripping on LSD. However, look after an Alfa of this vintage and it will more than likely look after you too.

Classic car ownership is all about that special bond you have with your vehicle that you can’t quite vocalise. With Alfas it’s easy; at some point you will need to whip out the 10mm socket, but for small niggly things that can be done on a Sunday afternoon with Mungo Jerry keeping your blood pressure in its happy place.

£10k: Jagar XJ-S

Now, we know this advert doesn't feature the convertible XJ-S, but you have to see this for some retro goodness:

The XJ-S always struggled despite its 21 year production run. Living in the shadow of the E-type for too many of those years, Jaguar were unlikely to replicate the car that Enzo Ferrari thought was even better than his own.

In 2018 though, what of it? E-type prices have taken off quicker than Elon Musk’s own roadster to space, so the XJ-S is already simmering investment material. Only a few years ago, £5000 would buy you a pretty solid XJ-S, now we would suggest saving your pennies for something closer to £10,000.

Some people would tell you it’s a plumber's nightmare, and they may be right, but the 5.3 litre V12 is just something you have to own at some point, let alone try. With what feels like enough torque to reduce the Earth into a hamster wheel, the XJ-S V12 is the perfect long distance weapon, and if squeezed can be a bit of a giggle too.

Naturally, particulars like fuel consumption are pointless to discuss, but with a V12 as your weekend pleasure cruiser covering only a few thousand miles a year, who gives a monkey’s?

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£50k: Austin-Healey 3000

Usually seen being caned around Silverstone every summer at the Silverstone Classic, the Austin-Healey 3000 is both a delicate choice and a screamer from yesteryear. With a throaty 2.9 litre straight-six, the Healey kicked out 136bhp followed by 150bhp in its third generation form; figures that were guaranteed to encourage glasses being repositioned back in the 1960s.

The 3000 was built at BMC’s Abingdon plant along with their MG counterparts; the MGA, followed by the MGB from 1962. The C-series power plant gave the 3000 its melange of sporty and cruising abilities until its curtain call in 1968, when BMC handed the baton to the straight-six MGC, the car that allegedly replaced the 3000.

The Austin-Healey 3000, whilst looking particularly suave, lived a life in the fast lane. As BMC’s official rally car until the Mini took its place, and enjoying multi-discipline roles at some of the world’s best circuits, the 3000 has a racing pedigree that cannot go unnoticed.

£100k: Ferrari F355 Spider

Looking to chase down a Hummer-wielding Sean Connery? You need a Ferrari F355 Spider:

One of Maranello’s most popular products, selling over 11,000 specimens between 1994 and 1999, the F355 was the curtain call to the prancing horse's traditional hand-built designs. Ferraris from the 80s had rather brutal design features, if not entirely unattractive, so the F355 marked a return to the elegance Ferrari was typically associated with.

Other bragging rights included the highest horse-power-per-litre claim of any naturally aspirated production car, which, rather insanely, included showing McLaren's F1 the door.

Bolstered with a rev-limiter at 8500 jaw dropping revolutions per minute carried the brand to new heights of success. With the outgoing 348 about as good as a dead horse at the Grand National, the new model was the sorcery needed to reverse Ferrari’s fate, and that’s before the term ‘open-gate gearbox’ is whispered, resulting in that fizzy sensation.

Values for the F355 were reported to have climbed between 25-30 percent in 2014 according to various sources, potentially symbolic of its hand-built origins being linked to the F40 and F50. The 375bhp V8 is known for being robust, but when shopping for cars like this, don’t expect a Kwik-Fit service for the love of all that’s holy.

Lead image courtesy of MagicCarPics

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