SOTW: Convertibles For Autumn

Well folks, August is over and (inevitably) the sun has waited until now to grace the nation with its rays, following the coldest summer for 18 years.

But the humble tourist's loss is the Open-top Shed devotee's gain - a bad summer equals cheap drop-tops.

Autumn is always a good time to get yourself a low-priced soft-top, of course, as the prospect of a cold, rainy autumn looms large. But this year it seems that so rich are the bargain-basement convertible pickings that we bring you not one, not two, but three whole SOTWs this week.

And so, in neither alphabetical nor preferential order, may we present to you the £750 3-series convertible, the £995 Audi cabriolet, and the £850 Mazda MX-5...

BMW 320i convertible
No four-seat cabrio of the 1980s is going to going to truly have you giggling like a simpleton over your favourite country road, but this might be as close as you're going to get, with six-cylinder power (albeit just 127bhp of it) and rear-wheel drive.

This particular car is also an auto, and so would encourage cruising rather than blatting, but for 750 quid that's really splitting hairs. Especially when a more conventionally tidy example could easily set you back £3k.

And by 'conventionally tidy' we mean a car whose rear brake shoes don't need replacing, and has a hood that isn't on the way out.

Mind you, all the other 'bad points' in the vendor's description don't sound too drastic (although 'rim scuffing' does sound moderately unpleasant until you realise he's talking about the car's alloys) and there's more than six months to go before you'd have to put it through the dreaded MOT...

Audi Cabriolet
If a BMW isn't your favourite flavour of soft-top yuppie-mobile, then how about the ever-so-dependable, ever-so-cool Audi Cabriolet? This was Audi's first soft-top (hence, we suppose, why it didn't feel the need to bother with a model name) and was made eternally famous, of course by its association with Princess Diana.

Lady Di would have been proud to be seen in this particular beauty, even now (maybe); it's only done a moderately meagre 114k miles, and the hood is in fully working order and decent condition. Plus she wouldn't need to take it to the MOT station until the end of next summer.

The Audi cab doesn't have the fleetest of feet, however. Its 2.0-litre motor only had to lug 1350kg around, but that was only good for 0-62mph in 12.6secs, and we suspect a few of these will have melted away in the past decade and a half.

But these are surely mere niggles - £995 for a slice of 90s open-top cool? We reckon that's a bit of a steal.

Mazda MX-5
We couldn't do a bargain soft-top Shed of the Week special without mentioning the evergreen MX-5. Now, much has been said on PH about the MX-5 over the years, so we'll keep this one short: if you want a fun rear-drive sports car and this isn't on your shopping list you are totally, irredeemably mad.

Allow us to put it this way. What would you rather for £850: a 1960s sports car with 1990s Japanese reliability? Or a mid-range TV?

Adverts reproduced below...

BMW 320i Convertible:
135,500 miles £750

Long MOT & TAX, Chrome Bumper Model (much nicer than the later ones)
I took this in part-ex for my merc, need it gone, hence the low price.

Here we have a rust free E30 convertible, good engine and box, perfectly usable
MOT till March 2012, Tax till end of December 2011
135,500 miles, no service history (lost)
Rust Free example (rare now)
Good strong straight 6 engine and auto box, no weird noises
Dosn't use any water or oil
Straight car, no signs of any accident damage or repair
Drives and pulls well
All good tyres (new on front), alloys good (bit of rim scuffing only)
Passenger seat has a bit of damage to the bolster, and the whole interior could do with a good clean, but all in all interior is not in bad shape
Hood could do with replacing, it is water tight, but has a rip in outer skin and a rubber seal missing over one of the back windows (which does let a little water in if the winds in right direction), again hood could do with a proper clean
Quite a few small scratches here and there (most would polish out), the worst being on the boot
A couple of minor dints, about size of a 50p (wouldn't show up on photos)

Rev counter works when it feels like it, as does the service lights (probably a loose conection somewhere) there are 3 green lights on the service light

The rear brake shoes will need replacing, as they have started making that metal on metal sound, brakes still work fine and it is still drivable

This is a good sound car, which is usable as it is (but I would do the rear brakes), and with a little work and new hood would be superb

Viewing is welcome, please contact me to arrange
Car is located near Brighton, BN10 postcode
I can deliver anywhere in u.k for £1.10/mile from BN10
Strictly cash on collection, if you want me to deliver I will require delivery costs up front, and payment for car on delivery

Audi Cabriolet
1993(L) Audi Cabriolet 2.0e ***12 Months MOT*** (1993)
114,000 miles £995

Presented in Very Dark Blue with a blue hood & blue trim this is an excellent example of this modern classic. It has the 2.0ltr 4cyl 8v ABK engine used throughout the Audi range and also in Mk2 & Mk3 VW Golfs making it reasonably nippy and relatively fuel efficient. All 4 windows are electric and can be operated individually or all together. The hood is (from the factory) manual and is simple and quick to raise & lower, it is also in excellent condition with no rips or tears, the rear (plastic) window is also nice & clear and free from creases or scratches. It would seem given its condition that the hood has been replaced fairly recently. Also it does not appear to leak even in prolonged heavy rain (aka the British Summer!).

The body work is pretty good overall as you can see from the pictures, obviously there are chips & scratches associated with the age of the car and there is a small dent in the top centre of the boot lid. The interior is blue cloth and is in great condition, it also has some decent quality correctly fitting blue carpet floor mats.

Having been sat in the garage throughout last winter I have finally got round to refreshing it back into daily service, it's had a long list of parts - some necessary, some for piece of mind - these include; Plugs, Leads, Dizzy-Cap, Coil & Amplifier, Water Pump, Battery, Radiator, Oil, Oil Filter, Air Filter, Fuel Filter.... All four tyres are good (less than 2k) and the wheels have recently been refurbished...

It's covered just under 114k miles and drives fine, the Mot is valid until early August 2012.

Any questions please ask - feel free to come and view.

Mazda MX-5
MX-5 1.8i, Cambelt done, Koni Springs, Decat (+ brand new spare CAT) (1995)
149,000 miles £850
MOT'd till Nov 15th 2011, Taxed until end of November 2011.

UK CAR, Reg'd 26/05/1995, 149k miles, but really does drive like half that, Doesnt smoke or use water, Had a service around a 1000 miles ago when it was brought up here by my brother and parked in April, i've used it around town occasionally since. Had the Cambelt changed at the time of service, and a new water pump at the same time. Has reams of history in the file, and original bill of sale too.
Has Koni -35mm lowering springs so it does sit quite close to the deck. Also has a De-cat pipe on and a cone filter so it sounds quite fruity with the hood down! Original filter and new cat included too.
Hood does not leak but has some cuts in the rear screen taped up, the sills have been repaired where they all start to go, and could do with tidying up a bit but not too bad.
Drive wise the only niggly things that irk me sometimes are the random sticky tappets they suffer from, clears after a few seconds or with a rev or two, and an occasional grating noise when its coasting after being parked for a while, again random and seems to be a well known mazda niggle!
Needs to sell now as I need the space, thanks
Please no silly offers, and I am not going to drop hundreds and hundreds of pounds via email or phone etc, thanks.



P.H. O'meter

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Comments (135) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Leptons 09 Sep 2011

    Where have you seen this sun you speak of? My moneys on the Beemer for some 80's cool. smokin

  • y2blade 09 Sep 2011

    no thanks

  • varsas 09 Sep 2011

    Audi for me please! Looks quite nice. I can't help thinking the BMW and MX-5 will be rusty, if not they are very cheap.

  • excel monkey 09 Sep 2011

    varsas said:
    Audi for me please! Looks quite nice. I can't help thinking the BMW and MX-5 will be rusty, if not they are very cheap.
    That Audi does look very nice, for a grand.

  • wackojacko 09 Sep 2011

    My money would go on the Audi even though I'm not really a fan of Audi's in general I do like a select few.

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