Bryan has a family member who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She has always wanted to drive a convertible and Bryan wants to help her get what will likely be her last car. They have a pretty solid budget but want something that won’t drop in value too much.
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Here is the scenario -
A close family member has terminal cancer. Likely has a year to live. She’s always wanted a convertible. We are looking for something that’s fun to drive and will hold its value well (since, sadly, we will sell it once the inevitable happens). Sorry for the sad story, but it would really bring her some joy if we can find the right ride. We are pretty open minded and have a budget up to $25,000. However, it must be automatic.
Budget: up to $25,000
Daily Driver: Yes
Wants: Fun, Open Top, Good Resale
Doesn’t want: Something too unreliable
Expert 1: Tom McParland - The Ultimate Driver
Bryan, I am very sorry to hear about your family member. Cancer sucks, but it’s cool that you are doing something to make her time more enjoyable. Obviously, there are plenty of convertibles to choose from with a $25,000 budget, and you wouldn’t have submitted your case to WCSYB if you were just going to buy a Miata.
My pick would be a great Miata substitute, the BMW 230 convertible. You could argue that the 2-series was the best BMW of the lineup if you still cared about the whole “Ultimate Driving Machine” ethos. They were compact and fun, but still came with all the luxury features you would expect from BMW. While they may not be as “engaging” as a Miata, the 230 is probably a bit easier to live with and you get more usable horsepower. Here is a nice example with around 46,000 miles but you will have to go to Georgia to grab it.
Expert 2: José Rodríguez Jr. - Take The Long Way
I’m sorry, Bryan. As Tom already said, cancer sucks, but you’ve got the right idea here, and it’s wonderful that you want memories of happy drives together with your family and the top-down magic of a convertible. I think a Toyota Solara would be perfect for you. This bright 2006 model could be the one, though it will involve a road trip. Make it a good one!
The Solara was built on a Camry platform. Rather, it actually is a Camry. Its V6 engine will just go and go without a sweat, and its cabin is great for the long haul. It even has a roomy back seat complete with rear head rests!
The Solara didn’t really succeed in making the Camry more exciting, but I think it’s been unfairly judged by many drivers. Given its platform, I think it’s the perfect car for longer drives that, rather than thrill and tire you out, allow you focus on the people around you while enjoying a leisurely drive.
Expert 3: Mercedes Streeter - Something Very Different
I’m sorry to hear about your family member, Bryan. I adore this idea of making every moment count, and convertibles are an awesome way to enjoy every mile.
Here’s a convertible that spreads joy even when it’s sitting still, the Suzuki Cappuccino. This Japanese Domestic Market convertible kei car offers up a great top-down driving experience in a fun-size package. This car was never sold in America and it’s unlike pretty much anything else you’ll see on the roads. It will likely make its driver a local celebrity wherever it parks.
I’ve been having trouble finding an automatic for sale in America. However, if you can wait about two months, you can import one from Japan. If you go that route, you may make money when you sell it. However, this car is so much fun that I’m not sure you’ll want to give it up.
Expert 4: Rory Carroll - It’s...The Nicest Car You Can Buy
Bryan, like the rest of my colleagues, I commend you and your relative for making the effort to make your remaining time together memorable.
The more recent sedan-based Mercedes convertibles are great to drive, mega comfortable and handsome. They’re not exactly my cup of tea, they’re never my favorite cars, but as far as general “niceness” I think they’re at least among the nicest cars you can buy. And, thanks to the magic of German luxury car depreciation, they’re now within your budget. Check out this 2016 E 400 Cab in Nashville. You’ll want to ditch those wheels though.