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Convertibles

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{Wheels.13.1}: Bianca R. {lily1} Sat, 05 Jun 2004 22:25:28 EDT (21 lines)

Jil, if you're reading this...

Have you test-driven the new Toyota Solara convertible yet?  I
understand the 2004 version is much improved over the previous
model.

If you had roughly $30,000 (U.S.) to spend on an open-air car,
totally unnecessary except to assauge middle-age convertible lust,
what would you do:

1) Buy new Toyota Solara
2) Buy used SAAB 9-3 or Volvo c70
3) Wait for new Volvo convertible to come out next year,
 save your capital and lease a new SAAB or Volvo, enjoy it for three
years and say bye-bye after spending $25,000 or so, with no car at
the end to show for it but hopefully 3 years worth of fun memories.

I'm not much of a fan of leasing in general, but I wonder if it
might make sense in this case.  I don't think SAABs have exactly a
pristine reputation for reliability, so don't know how long I'd want
to own one anyway, but they sure are fun to drive.

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{Wheels.13.2}: Jil {rabbit} Sun, 06 Jun 2004 08:27:19 EDT (7 lines)

I haven't driven the Solara. I have a cap of $30,000 (Cdn) on my
column, so I don't often get into the higher-priced vehicles. I
can't really give you an opinion because I don't have a lot of
experience with the vehicles you mention.

Saabs are fun to drive, but the only one I drove had electrical
problems...

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{Wheels.13.3}: Bianca R. {lily1} Sun, 06 Jun 2004 11:54:26 EDT (2 lines)

That's not uncommon, from what I understand.  One reason I'd be
inclined to lease if I go that route.

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{Wheels.13.4}: Jil {rabbit} Mon, 07 Jun 2004 07:12:46 EDT (2 lines)

Well, even if you buy, the warranty's the same. But you have no
equity in the car.

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{Wheels.13.5}: Bianca R. {lily1} Mon, 07 Jun 2004 09:32:57 EDT (17 lines)

So are you saying leasing is a dumb thing to do?

Basically that's always been my perspective.  But I've paid cash for
my cars since the mid-80's and kept them for a long time.  On a high-
depreciation car that I might not keep longer than a few years,
though, I'm wondering if that approach still makes sense.  Just
doing a brief back of the envelope figuring, it looked like it would
come out about the same if I only own it for three years.  Buying is
always better, I think, if you plan to own a car for more than 4
years.

Other option of course is waiting a year or so and trying to buy a
used 2004, that might save some $$$ too.  But I always have my
doubts about why someone would sell a car after only one year; seems
to me they might be more likely to have problems.  Based on a giant
assumption that people tend to hold on to cars withOUT problems, and
I know that isn't necessarily true.

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{Wheels.13.6}: Jil {rabbit} Mon, 07 Jun 2004 16:53:23 EDT (14 lines)

Everyone's different, but I don't see the point in leasing if you
can't write it off as a business expense.

When you lease, you're making payments just as if you were buying
it, except that your big expense is at the end. Most people opt for
the lowest monthly payment, which means that when the lease is up,
they're often looking at more than the car is worth if they're going
to keep it. If they walk away, they've basically paid rent on the
car for 3 or 4 years.

You also need to look very carefully at the terms of the lease. You
may be asked for a security deposit, and their interpretation
of "damage" might differ drastically from yours. You may have a
mileage limitation, too.

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{Wheels.13.7}: Bianca R. {lily1} Mon, 07 Jun 2004 17:59:24 EDT (11 lines)

Right, all those things figure into it.

I dunno.  A convertible is my (theoretical!) retirement present to
myself for sometime next year, but I might just decide to
occasionally rent one for a week or so to go down to the beach with,
and just have a little fun without actually owning one.  Probably a
lot cheaper in the long run!

I enjoyed your review of the PT Cruiser convertible!  It looks so
mini-pickup truck like in the pictures I've seen; did you feel it
looked like a small truck in person?

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{Wheels.13.8}: Jil {rabbit} Mon, 07 Jun 2004 18:02:54 EDT (2 lines)

No, I didn't find that. It's more like a 1930s convertible, with the
bigger back seat.

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{Wheels.13.9}: Bianca R. {lily1} Mon, 07 Jun 2004 18:04:58 EDT (1 line)

Hmm....  Big enough for two actual adults in the back seat?

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{Wheels.13.10}: Jil {rabbit} Tue, 08 Jun 2004 16:14:34 EDT (3 lines)

It's a bit tighter than the hatchback, but it's still do-able. You
won't make a basketball player happy back there, but there's more
room than in the BMW 325 convertible I drove.

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{Wheels.13.11}: Bianca R. {lily1} Tue, 15 Jun 2004 22:35:56 EDT (9 lines)

I just saw some articles on line about the new Buick concept car,
the Velite.

Man oh man, what a beauty!!  A Buick as object of desire, whodda
thunk it...

It's really a gorgeous car.  Unfortunately not due to be on the
market until 2007, if they even decide to build it.  It looks just
spectacular, though.  I'd buy it.

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{Wheels.13.12}: Jil {rabbit} Wed, 16 Jun 2004 07:40:48 EDT (1 line)

I haven't seen that one.

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{Wheels.13.13}: Bianca R. {lily1} Wed, 16 Jun 2004 11:35:52 EDT (10 lines)

Do a google search for "Buick Velite" and a bunch of articles will
come up.  It's currently a "concept car," and was unveiled at the NY
Autoshow.  Motor Trend and some of the other car mags have brief
articles with some truly stunning pictures.

Estimated cost will be around $39,000.

It was designed by a 34 year old whiz kid who had been at Porsche
Design.  The object was to build a 4 passenger convertible that
brings back "romance."

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{Wheels.13.14}: Jil {rabbit} Wed, 16 Jun 2004 12:04:20 EDT (2 lines)

Aha! Yes, I have seen that in photos! What a stunning design. Hard
to believe Buick can do something that isn't aimed at 120-year-olds.

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{Wheels.13.15}: Bianca R. {lily1} Wed, 16 Jun 2004 12:16:36 EDT (12 lines)

Yup.  I can see that car having a very broad range of appeal, to
folks in their mid-20's up through mid-60's, at least.  The price is
not too bad, the exterior and interior are both gorgeous (although I
think I could do without the gold leaf stuff), you don't have to be
a contortionist to get into it, it's big enough to be useful on long
trips, small enough to not have to find parking space fit for a
boat, MPG will probably be OK, etc., etc.

All that said, what will win hearts will be styling.  What will win
minds will be maintenance.  If Buick can convince people that the
quality, fit and finish, reliability, etc. will all be above
average, I'd say they'd have a sure winner.

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{Wheels.13.16}: Jil {rabbit} Wed, 16 Jun 2004 13:42:25 EDT (2 lines)

Buick's actually pretty good with quality and reliability. The
problem is that their styling puts people to sleep.

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{Wheels.13.17}: Bianca R. {lily1} Wed, 16 Jun 2004 14:02:31 EDT (1 line)

Think this will be an alarm clock?  ;-)  I do.

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{Wheels.13.18}: Jil {rabbit} Wed, 16 Jun 2004 15:00:23 EDT (1 line)

I think so!

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{Wheels.13.19}: 92 SVX, 59 TBird, 68 F250 {fvehafric} Fri, 18 Jun 2004 13:48:16 EDT (1 line)

It looks like a fish with it's mouth open.

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{Wheels.13.20}: E A Park {wahn} Fri, 09 Jul 2004 11:19:11 EDT (5 lines)

Had a VW convertible back in the day.  Would be aiming for one today
if they nearly as dependable.

I took a test drive and they are fun and comfortable.  All the car I
would need.

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{Wheels.13.21}: Bianca R. {lily1} Sat, 19 Mar 2005 13:12:47 EST (2 lines)

Re-opening this topic - Jill, have you seen or tested the new Mustang
convertible?  What do you think?

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{Wheels.13.22}: Jil {rabbit} Sat, 19 Mar 2005 16:30:35 EST (4 lines)

I've seen it, haven't driven it. I drive the new Mustang next month
but it'll be the coupe.

The ragtop is damn pretty, though.

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{Wheels.13.23}: Bianca R. {lily1} Sat, 19 Mar 2005 22:24:22 EST (2 lines)

That's what I thought.  Not a bad price, either.  (As long as the
dealers don't gouge, which might happen.)

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{Wheels.13.24}: Bianca R. {lily1} Fri, 27 Jan 2006 23:15:51 EST (54 lines)

I went to the Washington Auto Show today, and got to sit in a whole
bunch of cars.  I'm still yearning for a convertible.  Of the
convertibles that would seat four adults, the Volvo to me was the most
attractive, and it's loaded with safety features.  The Solara is a
close second in attractiveness and features, and costs around $12,000
less.  It has the more typical soft-top rather than a hardtop.  The
SAAB did not impress me for the price, but it had some nice features.
 The Sebring just did nothing for me.

I LOVE the new Volvo C70.  It's got this origami-folding hardtop which
is really amazing.  They wouldn't let anyone sit in the convertibles,
unfortunately, but I did get to sit in the sedans, and the seats were
by far the most comfortable of anything I've ever seen.  There were
two convertibles on display, one silver, one white,  one with top up
and the other with top down, plus every so often they demonstrated how
the top works, to the jaw-dropping amazement of one and all.

The trunk is very spacious with the top up.  With the top down, it's a
bit weird since the hardtop all folds together and is what you see
when you open the trunk.  But you push a button on the side, and like
magic, the top lifts a bit so you can get to the storage space.  You
could get two overnighters or one large-ish suitcase or several
grocery bags in the trunk, even with the top down.

The interior has several little storage cubbies, and most of them will
automatically lock.  The leather looked gorgeous, better than any
other car I've seen.  The interior in general looks very clean, not
tarted up, just clean and simple.

Cost will be about $42,000, nicely equipped.

SAAB, for almost the same price, did not impress me at all.  Materials
looked tacky, fit and finish not so great, some of the storage cubbies
very un-user friendly.  For instance, the place to put CDs was a
half-circle.  Fine if you want to carry around loose CDs, but I always
like to have mine in their cases in a cubby-hole, and there was no
such space.

The seats were very comfortable, radio system was great, trunk space
also pretty good for a convertible.  For the money, though, I thought
the Volvo was a lot better.

Stepping down a whole bunch of money, the Solara looked gorgeous and
was very comfortable.  It was easy to enter, even for the back seat
passengers.  Trunk is huge, even with the top down.  It looks more
like a highway cruiser than a sports car, but that's fine with me,
that's what I want.  Couldn't test the radio as the car didn't have
the power on.

There were a lot of roadsters on the market - the Mazda Miata M5, the
Pontiac Solstice, and others.  I felt like a midget in a toy car in
all of them.  Maybe it's just me, but I'd be terrified to be in one of
those cars on a highway with huge trucks whizzing past.  They're just
too low.  Or I'm too old, one of the two!

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{Wheels.13.25}: Jil {rabbit} Sat, 28 Jan 2006 09:57:26 EST (4 lines)

I love the M5 and Solstice, but if you're any size at all, you wear
them. They're very confident on the highway, big trucks and all.

The Volvo is gorgeous, though. And I like the looks of the Solara.

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