With spring right around the corner, many car enthusiasts get the annual itch to want a two-seat convertible as a weekend get-away car. However, as soon as the thought sets in, counteracting ones are right behind to step in with such arguments as too small, too impractical, and too expensive.
Four years ago, my wife and I pondered that very same question. This time, however, we were determined to find a collectible car that could meet out needs and our budget. With us both having long commutes, my wife pointed out that getting a third car as our weekend car made more sense because we would be more likely to get in it for fun more than if one served double duty as as daily driver as well.
So, with that in mind we came up with three constraints to finding our weekend car. First, it had to have a convertible top. Second, it needed enough luggage space for the two of us to be able to go on trips with it. Third, while performance was also important, I was willing to give up ultimate handling for the sake of comfort to ensure my wife would not grow tired of our weekend car. Now all I had to do was a find possible cars that fit those constraints while holding to our budget of $15,000.
The good news is that we live in a time when affordable cars like this do exist! The late 90s and 2000s truly were a special time in the automotive business as manufacturers were finally making reliable, good looking cars with great performance that consumers actually wanted to own. Now nearly twenty years on, great low mileage examples are yours for the taking if you do your homework! Below are three examples currently for sale.
Chevrolet Corvette C5 (1997-2004)
In the fall of 1996, GM launched the first all-new “C5” Corvette that was a radical departure from any version previously offered. In addition to featuring the then-new all-aluminum LS small block V8 (now considered one of the best engines ever made!), this new Corvette featured a rear transaxle that improved weight distribution and interior space. A side benefit was that convertible versions now featured a lockable trunk for the first time since 1962. Better still was that the boot featured 10.4 cubic feet of shallow, but very usable space.
The Platinum-over-Black leather model year 2000 six-speed model featured in the pictures above can be found here on Craigslist currently for the asking price of $15,500 or best offer near Neptune, New Jersey by the private seller.
Mercedes Benz R129 SL (1990-2001)
In 1989 Mercedes-Benz introduced a completely redesigned and modern SL to replace the prior model that dated back to 1971. This new R129 version featured many advanced features that we now take for granted. Among these was the first application of an automated pop-up in the event of a roll-over. Available in six-, V8, or V12 power, this generation of SL offered vastly improved performance while still providing luxury its buyer’s demanded.
The Green-over-Tan leather 1995 SL320 example featured above can currently be found here on BringATrailer.com as a no-reserve auction by the private seller. The current high bid is only $8,000, however we expect the high bidder will end up paying close to $15,000 get what appears to be a very nice example.
Porsche Boxster 986 (1997-2004)
The original 986 Porsche Boxster launched in model year 1997 and remained in production through 2004 when the mildly updated 987 version arrived. This is the car my wife and I ultimately decided to purchase as the sound of the flat six at your back combined with the extremely well-balanced handling and the practicality of two decent-sized trunks make these the perfect weekend getaway car. In the four years we’ve owned ours, we’ve logged nearly 30K trouble-free weekend & vacation miles.
Saavy GWR followers will remember that we featured this 2002 Rain Forest Green Metallic over Gray leather Porsche Boxster with only 43K miles in early February. You can still find it here for sale on Autotrader.com by the private seller who is asking $13,500.
Hopefully these three examples will motivate you to either look at purchasing these or perhaps look for something similar with the colors and options you prefer. Before you buy, however, we recommend doing your homework and learn everything you can about each model and the trouble spots to watch out for. Two-seat roadsters tend to be well-maintained, low-mileage pleasure vehicles so don’t be afraid to walk away from a sale if the seller cannot provide detailed maintenance documentation. Good luck finding your fun and practical sports car and be sure to comment below on what you end up finding and buying!