There’s nothing quite like a convertible. No matter how big car companies make their panoramic sunroofs, there simply isn’t another way to have the drop-top experience without driving one. Being open and exposed to nature and feeling the wind in your hair can make a normal drive far more interesting. Even with a few drawbacks, such as limited security, safety, and requiring extra maintenance, adding a convertible top can make a fairly boring car into something far more enjoyable. When added to a performance car, an open cockpit can make a driver feel far more in tune with the vehicle and world around them.
While an adept automaker can remove the roof of a car without compromising the structural integrity and styling too much, other companies aren’t so capable. Given how chopping the roof off introduces more flex in the body, hurting both handling and comfort, automotive designers must find other ways to tame the chassis. When done poorly, issues such as cowl shake and disconcerting driving characteristics begin to emerge. Then there’s the styling. It seems like some automakers put all of their efforts into designing the standard model and are unable to transfer the original roofline onto a folding roof. Soft tops can look flimsy and poorly proportioned while folding hardtops often require a gigantic trunk, often resulting in a huge, unflattering rear deck that clashes with car’s lines. Even though there are many incredible convertibles for sale, here are 20 examples to avoid.
20 Chrysler Sebring
Even though it’s not the worst car DaimlerChrysler produced, the third generation Chrysler Sebring still wasn’t a good car. It had bizarre styling, a terrible interior, and some undesirable powertrain choices. While the Sebring convertible might look better than the awkwardly proportioned sedan, that’s really not saying much, especially when looking at the drop top’s massive, flat rear deck.
Then there’s the performance. Even though V6 powertrains were available, many Sebrings were saddled with a 173 horsepower four-cylinder motor that had to haul over 3,700 pounds of sad Chrysler.
Perhaps the only positive note is that the Sebring is one of the few convertibles that has usable rear seats.
19 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
Crossovers are taking over every automotive segment. They’re replacing sedans, wagons, sports cars, and off-roaders. However, these vehicles have yet to make an impact on the convertible market, but that hasn’t stopped a couple automakers from trying to do so, with Nissan’s Murano CrossCabriolet being one of the first examples.
While convertibles are often seen as sporty vehicles, the CrossCabriolet was not, given its CVT automatic and 4,435-pound curb weight. The roof is poorly proportioned and Nissan left a large rear deck, all of which Land Rover was able to avoid with its recent Evoque convertible. That said, the CrossCabriolet was at least something different in an otherwise played out market.
18 Chevrolet Cavalier
It’s unlikely that anyone would consider the Chevy Cavalier to be a fun vehicle. Apparently, Chevy thought removing the compact’s roof might change consumer’s minds, but there’s nothing that could make the model appealing beyond being its low price.
While the soft top replacement was actually not bad, as it surprisingly retaining the car’s lines, the real problem was the car itself.
The Cavalier just hasn’t aged well at all. It’s an ancient design with forgettable performance and an awful interior. A folding roof wasn’t going to transform the Cavalier into an interesting car that was worth buying, and it certainly wasn’t going to improve its already unimpressive performance.
17 Yugo Cabrio
It’s unlikely that any car will ever be as openly mocked as the Yugo. Regardless of the car’s poor design choices and extremely basic layout, the company was ambitious, making both a performance version and a convertible.
Given the model’s poor reception when it was new, it’s unlikely that chopping off the roof improved the public’s perception of the vehicle, and it certainly wouldn’t improve the model’s driving characteristics.
Credit where its due, the small Yugoslavian company did a better job at making a roof that fit the shape of the car when it was up than some multi-million-dollar companies have done in recent years.
16 Nissan Micra C+C
There isn’t much to say about the standard third generation Nissan Micra, other than its unique styling that was far more intriguing than the comparable Versa sold in North America. Unfortunately, the convertible Micra C+C was absolutely hideous. Its long, truck-like rear end absolutely annihilates the car’s otherwise round shape.
For reasons only known to Nissan, the company decided to make the model a hardtop convertible, rather than going with a soft top design that could’ve retained the car’s shape, like Volkswagen did with the New Beetle. Not to mention, a fabric roof would likely have kept the price down.
15 Chrysler LeBaron
LeBaron is a historic name for Chrysler’s luxury models, with it being attached to the brand’s most well-known premium models, such as the Imperial and Airflow. By the ‘80s however, the name was associated with some rather sad vehicles.
Much like other Mopars of the time period, the LeBaron was built on the K-body, which was a low-end budget car platform.
Possibly to make it seem more luxurious, the LeBaron was available in a drop top design that could be further “upgraded” with the Town and Country package which added some awful fake wood grain to the sides of the vehicle.
14 Mercury Capri
America doesn’t see many Australian cars, with the most well-known examples being the Holdens that GM sold under the Chevy and Pontiac marques. However, Ford sold a model from down under in the US that has been largely forgotten: the Mercury Capri.
This compact sports convertible wasn’t necessarily a bad car, as it was lightweight and had a 132-horsepower turbocharged motor available, which was decently powerful for the time. However, with a front-wheel-drive design and two-seat layout, it’s hard to see how the Capri was a preferable alternative to the rear-wheel-drive Mazda Miata or a more practical four-seat convertible.
13 Geo Metro
There are many ways to improve a boring car, and it’s especially easy when the car in question is a lightweight economy model. The easiest way to do so is to drop in a more powerful motor and install stiffer suspension. Turning such a car into a convertible, however, is less common. The Metro was never really a fun car, but Geo gave it the chop top treatment to possibly spice it up.
Given how small, tinny, and basic the standard Metro is, it’s not hard to think about how compromised the structural integrity is on the convertible. Worse still, the roof design wasn’t even half as good looking as the considerably older Yugo.
12 Nissan 300ZX
In 1989, the Nissan 300ZX was completely redesigned, appearing with a handsome new aerodynamic shape and a lot of new technology, such as twin turbocharged motors and four-wheel-steering. Really, there’s almost no way removing the roof could ruin this car, but Nissan found a way.
Regardless of whatever impact the ragtop had on the driving experience, the convertible roof was horribly ugly, looking like an afterthought that doesn’t flow with the car’s shape at all.
Even if it wasn’t so hideous, the convertible was completely pointless, as the 300ZX was also sold with a T-top, which was both simpler and preserves the hardtop’s shape and the convertible’s open-air experience.
11 Vauxhall Astra TwinTop
During the 2000s, Europe seemed to be obsessed with hardtop convertibles, which apparently affected many compact cars, such as the usually dull Opel and Vauxhall Astra. Known as the TwinTop, possibly named as such to imply that it could be both a coupe and a convertible, this version of the Astra actually made the folding metal roof design work surprisingly well, despite the car’s original hatchback body.
However, performance was an issue due to the extra weight of that heavy roof, as the Astra’s 138 horsepower 1.8-liter motor took over 10 seconds to get to 60 according to Auto Car, and less powerful motors were available.
10 Citroën C3 Pluriel
Looking at the Citroën C3 Pluriel, it’s difficult to see how the roof folds. Citroën decided to make something different by designing the fabric center of the top to roll down and making sides of the roof completely removable. While the simplicity and modularity of the design may seem like a clever idea, it’s completely impractical.
There’s nowhere to store the roof frames inside the car, meaning that it is impossible to put the roof back up if it starts to rain during a drive.
On a similar note, one would also need a place to store the roof rails in their home as well.
9 Chrysler PT Cruiser
Even though the PT Cruiser wasn’t an unpopular car when it was new, it has since lost all its appeal over the years, becoming a complete joke of a car, and the convertible variant likely didn’t help its image. With a shorter, two-door body, the soft top Cruiser resembles the Plymouth Prowler more than the standard model ever did.
Unfortunately, it’s still a PT Cruiser, making it a horribly unlikeable car, and its basket-handle roll bar didn’t help its looks any, looking like the horrible chop tops of the ‘80s. Perhaps the worst part of this PT Cruiser is that everyone can see who’s behind the wheel.
8 Smart ForTwo Cabrio
There’s almost no way to make a Smart ForTwo a desirable car to a mass audience. It’s simply too weird and impractical as a daily driver for many to consider. Fitting a folding roof into such a tiny package is a task many other automakers have failed at, but Smart managed to accomplish without losing the model’s iconic shape.
Unfortunately, the actual open roof area is rather small, making the Cabrio a questionable investment over a standard ForTwo, especially considering that the basic model has an available glass roof.
Is the tiny patch of open air really that much better than just rolling the windows down?
7 Porsche 944
There aren’t many bad Porsches out there, and the 944 certainly isn’t one of them. These cars are popular for many reasons, mostly due to their performance and how easy they are to work on. Given how cheap 944’s can be, it’s a good budget performance option.
The convertible model, however, is a strange looking beast. Unquestionably the worst part of this car is the roof itself, as it is such a tiny, lumpy design that looks awful when put up. Porsche went through a lot of trouble to just to offer a convertible, as it sent hardtop 944’s to another company to modify them, prompting a $6700 price increase, according to Road and Track.
6 Shelby GT500
This may seem like a sacrilegious entry, as it’s hard to see how a supercharged V8 Mustang convertible could possibly be a bad car in any regard. Unfortunately, the 2007 to 2012 Shelby GT500 soft top didn’t have the chassis to support its powerful motor.
Car and Driver described the 2007 convertible’s chassis as “rubbery.” In 2010, the Mustang, and by extension the GT500, was redesigned, with the Shelby coupe seeing improved suspension and steering. However, Jalopnik reported that no such improvements found their way to the convertible model. Quite a shame for a 540-horsepower supercharged muscle car. Thankfully, the 2013 update brought chassis improvements to the drop top along with 662 horsepower.
5 Ford Focus Coupe-Cabriolet
If there’s a lesson to be learned in this list, it’s to never convert a hatchback into a hardtop convertible. While a simpler fabric top can allow automakers to retain a car’s shape to some extent, a bulky hardtop results in horribly awkward shapes, especially when crammed onto a small car, such as the Ford Focus.
Look at that car’s awful proportions. It’s one of the ugliest cars sold within the last few years due to that ridiculous rear deck and laughable roofline.
Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of this model was that it was built by Pininfarina, the same company that has built many gorgeous Ferraris and Maseratis over the years.
4 Buick Cascada
In recent years, Buick has sold many rebadged Opels to Americans, and one of its most recent additions to its lineup is the Cascada, a dedicated convertible offering. There are few other convertibles on the market that aren’t sports or muscle cars, making it a rather unique offering today. Unfortunately, the Cascada isn’t very good.
While it isn’t a particularly large car, it manages to weigh more than the larger Chrysler 200 convertible which occupied this market segment prior to the Cascada. Unlike the Chrysler, however, the Buick is only powered by a four-cylinder, resulting in Car and Driver recording an 8.3 second 0-60. The magazine reported terrible cowl shake as well.
3 Nissan 350Z Roadster
Released in 2002, the Nissan 350Z was an impressive performance machine in a unique and handsome package. This two-seater was an impressive and good-looking car, but the Roadster model lost the latter accolade, as the top looked almost unfinished as it was horribly disproportional to the rest of the body.
The 350Z Roadster also had a ludicrously long rear deck that was terrible when the roof was down and even more pronounced with it up.
Nissan did improve the convertible design with the 370Z, but the company simply doesn’t seem to be very good at designing convertible roofs, especially when it comes to its Z cars.
2 Dodge Dakota
Unlike full-size pickups, compact trucks are meant to be utilitarian with only a few exceptions. This was especially true in the ‘80s before pickups became status symbols they are today. For whatever reason, Dodge decided to create a soft top Dakota, one of the few convertible trucks ever made.
It’s really obvious why there are so few examples of such vehicles, mostly due to how the work truck and drop top cruiser images completely clash with each other. The Dakota Convertible not much a cruiser if it can only move three people, and it wasn’t much of a work truck given its pathetically weak V6.
1 Mitsubishi Colt CZC
In certain markets, Mitsubishi sells the Colt as its small, cheap compact. Where Nissan tried to make the Micra attractive for this segment, Mitsubishi went for a more conservatively styled vehicle, with the exception being the CZC hardtop convertible model.
The standard Colt has the styling of a scaled-down minivan, which made turning it into an aesthetically pleasing convertible quite a difficult task, a task that Mitsubishi clearly wasn’t skilled enough to accomplish. It is truly incredible how jarring the CZC’s rear deck is, particularly due to its sloped front end. It honestly looks like it was styled backward.
Sources: Autoblog, Jalopnik, Car and Driver, Motor Trend, AutoCar