...and cars you marry. The sooner you understand the difference the better things will be for you. The car industry has known for decades that men want convertibles, but they buy sedans. Put the shiny, exciting sports model in the showroom to attract foot traffic, but have the pen and sales contract ready on the practical 4-door sitting nearby. Why is this? Because any car you buy new you are married to, at least as long as the car loan lasts. And nobody in their right mind wants to get hitched to a floozy.

 

By definition, Beater Convertibles are ones that you date. They should never be a long-term commitment. Think of them not as the Right Car, but the Right Now Car. Because of that you can have the convertible. You can buy the Alfa that needs the driveshaft donuts

 

replaced. You can get the MGB with rusted floorboards that look like they have been welded in by squirrels. You can buy the Fiat Spider that leaks oil from the back of the passenger-side cam box. These are not long-term commitments. They are stop-gap cars, stepping stones to something better, something more durable. Something that makes sense.

 

The true Beater Convertible is like the girl you meet at

Spring Break. You don't ask too much about her background because you neither need nor want to know. It is a match just for a short time, a season at most.

 

Not that convertibles are floozies, it is just that they are not the most practical things and when you are in it for the long term, that becomes an issue. So how do we approach that intersection of Wants and Needs? There are a couple of choices.

 

The first is go ahead and buy the sports model brand new. If you are young and single and have the loot without stretching too much, go ahead. It will only become a problem when you develop a spouse and house and a budget with little room for car repairs.

 

You can buy two cars. A "Summer Fun" car and the winter car and rotate them in your garage and on your insurance. Maybe you can square having both on the road at that same time, so the fun car gets used whenever the weather is right and the "good" car is there for someone to come pick you up when the alternator in the fun car fries. Maintaining a mistress is never going to be easy.

 

Or you can resign yourself to buying the sedan, new or used, and watching the cars you’ve always wanted belong to someone else. You know they are having more fun on the sunny warm Spring days, out on the weekend with the top down, but you also know that in the Winter, when the winds pick up and the sky turns the color of an ugly bruise, you will crank up the heater that actually warms and turn on the stereo you can actually hear.

 

The new sedan is the car you can take home to show your parents. (It will not only impress them at your maturity, it is much more likely to make it there & back.) The Beater convertible is the car you take to the beach where tops can be pulled down.

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