MOTORING is getting pricey – if it’s not escalating fuel prices, it’s the cars themselves getting more expensive due to supply chain issues.
But cheap motoring is still possible and cheap thrills don’t come more readily than in a bargain drop-top motor.
We love an open-top here in Britain, buying more than any other nation in Europe relative to our size. Must be our cracking weather.
The good news is that if you’re on a budget, the used market is flooded with bargain examples that are ready to be enjoyed this summer.
You don’t need to spend much either – we’ve found four brilliant bargains that can be had for less than £2,000 and won’t use much fuel.
Even better, when you’ve had your fun and winter is setting in, they’re all desirable enough to sell on easily.
MG F (1995-2002)
These days MG is focused on electric cars, but it’s famous for decades of making lovely two-seat roadsters with a racing pedigree.
The MG F wasn’t universally loved as a new car back in 1995, but now you can snap up decent examples with low miles for around £1500 which makes it a solid choice.
It handles well and its small petrol engines mean you won’t be racing through fuel.
As with all open-tops check for damp patches inside to avoid leaky roofs, but some MG Fs are prone to tired suspension so listen for knocks on the test drive.
Saab 9-3 Convertible (2004-2012)
Saab is no longer with us after folding back in 2011, but there are plenty about on the used market.
The 9-3 was a smart-looking high-quality car that drove well and looks a real bargain today.
There’s room for four adults inside, many come with leather seats and economical petrol and diesel engines are on offer.
Try and spend close to £2000 for a good one, check the roof for leaks and the front tyres for wear.
Mini Cooper Convertible (2004-2008)
BMW’s reinvention of the Mini seems like yesterday but it was actually more than 20 years ago now.
That means prices of early Cooper Convertible models are looking very attractive, with many decent examples around the £2000 mark.
Like all Minis the Convertible feels agile to drive and its small engines sip fuel.
Check the electric roof is OK and it works properly and listen out for knocking suspension and rattling dashboards on the test drive.
For around £1700 you can have a Mercedes drop-top in your life – and not an old snotter, either.
The press didn’t rave about the SLK at launch, but at this money, it’s got to be on your list of cheap summer motors.
It corners well, is comfy on a long run and none of its engines at this money will cost you much to fuel.
The SLK has a decent reputation for reliability, so just make sure the roof works properly and try and buy a car with as much service history as possible.