I Hate Convertibles: A Confession
I have a confession to make. I hate something you probably love. I hate convertibles. Passionately. I know that, to some, convertibles represent the wind-in-your hair, the ultimate freedom, and the classic motoring that makes America great. I call bullsh*t. Roll down a window if you want the wind in your hair. If you want classic motoring, go use a crank to start your car in the morning, and try driving down the street with a big handle for a brake and lanterns for headlights. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, is it? Neither are convertibles. Here’s why.
1. Birds poop
Sure, you won’t get hit while you’re moving, but have you ever noticed how many birds like to sit on power lines over intersections? It’s like one big nightmarish poop-filled Hitchcock movie, and it's anything but relaxing.
2. Putting your top up everywhere you go is an enormous pain
Seriously. You’ve parked, now you have to wait an extra 30 seconds for the top to go back up and latch properly. Or you could risk it and leave the top down, but having all your stuff stolen doesn’t count as a charitable donation on your tax form.
3. It rains
You can put your convertible top up, sure. If your car’s brand new, it’ll even keep the water out. Probably. But if it’s an older, more “classic” car, you’d better have a change of clothes in what’s left of your tiny trunk space or you’ll be soaked.
4. And if you don’t put your top up, bad stuff happens
Do you have any idea how much mold you’re growing underneath your carpet right now? There’s probably enough fungus to sell on a black market as a “natural” drug.
5. They’re slow
Obviously, some convertibles are really, incredibly fast cars. I’m not going to argue that a topless 458 Italia isn’t a damn sight faster and sexier than a Yugo with a hard top. But I will stand my ground that a 458 Italia with a hard top is even better.
6. Like, really slow
The original Shelby Cobra, the American icon of American icons, was aerodynamically limited to under 170 mph. When it raced in Europe, it was blindingly fast on short courses, but on longer tracks, the hard topped Ferraris of the world just laughed, put their foot down, and drove past them with top speeds nearly 30 mph faster. Shelby conceded and put a top on the car (granted, with some other aerodynamic shapes), and the Shelby Daytona absolutely obliterated everything in its path. Shelby became the first American manufacturer to win a World Championship, and it's because they went for the hard top.
7. Convertibles are more flexible than a Romanian gymnast
One of the most crucial aspects to cornering is a stiff chassis that doesn’t flex, thereby letting all the pricey suspension pieces do their thing. Convertibles lose key structural elements, so they add more weight to make up for it. You see how crooked this Cadillac's door is because the chassis moves? They don’t succeed in terms of rigidity, and the negative effect on performance is essentially doubled.
8. We don’t want to see you
I want to see the car, not the driver, and I want to see the gorgeous lines the designer originally intended. It might be funny, but I don’t really care to see how well or how poorly someone’s toupee glue holds up. Exception to this rule: attractive women.
9. The shapes suck
Be honest. Does this…
Really look better than this? Of course not.
10. You can’t hear the radio
If you’re on the highway, you have to turn the stereo way the hell up just to make out what’s playing. When you slow back down, you announce to the world that you still listen to Third Eye Blind.
11. Sunburns suck
If you’ve ever set out on a 12-hour road trip to Padre in the middle of summer, only to find that by the time you’ve reached Austin your face has developed a 1/8-inch thick layer of seriously burnt, actually crispy skin that almost smells like a pot roast, you understand why having some shade is a good thing.
Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor. He owned a convertible once. He got horribly sunburned, he got wet, the car was slow despite having a V8. A wannabe cougar in a red Mercedes 280SL convertible smiled at him. Follow him on Twitter, where he will never go topless again.