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A new study from Experian Automotive seeks to quantify the traits that identify the convertible-loving droptop driver. Of course, after reading through the findings, this just kind of confirms a lot of things that have been kind of obvious about convertible owners for kind of a long time.

They're educated, wealthy and older than the average new car customers, with 50 percent holding a bachelor's degree, 19 percent reporting a household income in excess of $175,000 (11.7 percent cleared $1 million), and 72 percent were over the age of 45. Considering the traditionally higher cost of a convertible, and the fact that many are probably second or third cars, these factoids aren't exactly shocking. Even the most popular locations for convertibles aren't all that surprising. Los Angeles is number one, followed by New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta.

What is surprising, though, are the most popular vehicles during the study. We agree with four of the five entries – the Ford Mustang, Mazda MX-5, BMW 3 Series and the Chevrolet Corvette captured positions one, three, four and five, respectively. The number two position, though, is inexplicable. It's held by the Chrysler Sebring (we're thinking Experian is referring to the 200). So, if this study proves nothing else, it's evidence that age, education and money can't totally prevent bad decisions.

Of course, we wouldn't put too much faith in these findings. Our big issue is the perilously short time period that this data was gleaned from. Experian only looked at new vehicle registrations during the first quarter of 2014. Aside from the limited time to collect findings and watch trends develop, analyzing convertible buying trends during the single coldest winter in recent memory hardly seems prudent.

With that in mind, head below and take a look at Experian's findings, including analysis between convertible drivers and the average new-car customer.
Show full PR text
Experian Automotive analysis shows consumers who drive with the top down are more educated and affluent than the general population

Analysis also shows that California and Florida account for 23 percent of all convertible vehicle registrations

Schaumburg, Ill., July 22, 2014 - In the spirit of the summer season, Experian Automotive released findings from an analysis looking at trends on the ultimate summertime vehicle, the convertible. The analysis shows that during the first quarter of 2014, convertible car buyers tended to have a higher education and were more affluent than the average new car buyer.

In Q1 2014, more than 50 percent of all convertible buyers had at least a bachelor's degree, while only 38.2 percent of average new car buyers had a similar education level. Additionally, nearly 19 percent of consumers purchasing a convertible had an average household income in excess of $175,000, and 11.7 percent owned a home valued at more than $1 million. Conversely, only 10.7 percent of average new car buyers had a household income of the same level, and only 4.4 percent owned a home valued at the same price.

"The one long-standing perception of convertible vehicles is that they are driven predominately by consumers who live in sunny, coastal areas," said Brad Smith, director for Experian Automotive. "While that notion certainly rings true, it's not the only difference. Our research shows that convertible drivers also tend to be more affluent than the average new car buyer. One explanation to this could be that more luxury brands tend to have a convertible option."

As part of the analysis, Experian Automotive also looked where the majority of convertibles were registered in Q1 2014. Findings show that 23 percent of all convertibles* in the United States were registered in either California (13.4 percent) or Florida (9.6 percent), with Texas (7 percent), New York (4.3 percent) and Illinois (3.9 percent) rounding out the top five.

Furthermore, the top five designated market areas (DMA)** for convertibles in Q1 2014 were Los Angeles, Calif. (6.4 percent), New York, N.Y. (5.2 percent), San Francisco, Calif. (2.9 percent), Chicago, Ill. (2.9 percent), and Atlanta, Ga. (2.5 percent).

Additionally, the top five convertible vehicle models on the road during the first quarter of 2014 were the Ford Mustang, Chrysler Sebring, Mazda Miata/MX-5, BMW 3-Series and Chevrolet Corvette. The analysis also found that the Ford Mustang was the convertible vehicle model of choice across all 50 states.

Top five convertible vehicle models on the road, Q1 2014
1. Ford Mustang
2. Chrysler Sebring
3. Mazda Miata/MX-5
4. BMW 3-Series
5. Chevrolet Corvette

Other findings include:

• In Q1 2014, more than 72 percent of all consumers purchasing a convertible were older than the age of 45, while only 60 percent of average new car buyers were of the same age
• During Q1 2014, nearly 52 percent of consumers purchasing a convertible did not have the presence of a child in the household***; only 42 percent of average new car buyers did not
• There were 4.5 million convertible vehicles on U.S. roads in Q1 2014, making up 1.8 percent of the entire vehicle market
• The top five convertible vehicle makes on the road in Q1 2014 were Ford, Chrysler, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Chevrolet
• The DMA with the lowest volume of convertible vehicles in Q1 2014 was Glendive, Mont.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 30 Comments
      Chris
      • 5 Months Ago
      Well seeing as convertibles cost more, and are typically offered on more premium models, this comes as no surprise. Not too many cheap econo boxes and CUVs with drop tops...
        skoobey
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Chris
        Exactly. Like saying Ferrari owners are wealthier then an average driver. Of course.
          Dwight Bynum Jr.
          • 4 Months Ago
          @skoobey
          "Like saying Ferrari owners are wealthier then an average driver." <- This horrendous grammar error alone leads me to believe you're NOT one of the more educated convertible owners... even if you do own a convertible.
      Skicat
      • 4 Months Ago
      Age: 58, Bachelor's, 2nd car Miata (which I drove to work today)... Now if I could just figure out how to crack that $175k income stat
      Derek Hart
      • 5 Months Ago
      The available 3.6 Pentastar engine in the 200 convertible was a "Wards top ten engine", in model years 11-13, so it understandable what could have made it the second best seller.
        bullitt2605
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Derek Hart
        I have driven a 200 and it coming 2nd challenges the finding that anyone buying it is better educated.
      omgcool
      • 4 Months Ago
      Ok, I'm really crossed. What exactly is so lacking about the first generation Chrysler 200? I've driven around and found the 2011 V6 absolutely competitive at the time (except for, perhaps, available features). Everyone dogs on it, but I've yet to see anyone cite why it is such a "lackluster" car. It feels more solid, substantial, quiet, and refined than at least the Accord, Fusion, and Altima of the time. Am I going crazy?
      Frisky_Dingo
      • 4 Months Ago
      The people who bought the 200 must be the exceptions to the 'more educated' rule.
      normc32
      • 5 Months Ago
      The girlfriend loves rolling in the yellow Saturn Sky. She likes getting the looks. :-)
      jesscott
      • 4 Months Ago
      In other news....owners of 6 bedroom houses on 3 acre parcels are more educated, well to do. Duh who do you think can afford $50k automobiles?
      Chuggowitz
      • 5 Months Ago
      Guess the fact that it destroys the cars rigidity is of no consequence, not to mention as soon as you roll you're double boned. Then again, most people buy them for the aesthetic value (which I personally don't get, take the f-type for example - so much better as a hardtop)
        Chris
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Chuggowitz
        Aesthetics? One of the biggest gripes about convertibles has been that they often don't look as good as their coupe counterparts. It's the open air, wind in the hair feel that makes convertibles attractive. Most of us aren't race car drivers, so rigidity being lost doesn't mean much, and the odds of flipping over in normal driving conditions are nill.
        Doug Danzeisen Sr
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Chuggowitz
        I take it loss of rigidity is a pretty important issue for you?
        graphikzking
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Chuggowitz
        I'm willing to put some money up and say that the newer convertible are more rigid than cars made 5-10 years ago. I bet a current Corvette convertible, 4 series convertible, S5 convertible are just as rigid as a 2 generation ago M3. (E46). CAD designs have made cars much more rigid over the past 10-15 years. So much so that the "loosest" convertible is probably more rigid than a late 90's Supra, M3 etc. For some reason, Miata's still lead the way on autocross circuits even though they are all convertibles? Maybe WEIGHT is just as much a factor as rigidity? :)
      Sergey R
      • 5 Months Ago
      I really really like how convertibles look, BUT I was a passenger couple time in a convertible here in FL and I tell you it's hell to stay uncovered for so long under such sun. It's burning hard. So maybe convertibles are good for northern states. Also I see a lot of convertibles driving under FL showers coz they can't just suddenly stop and move the top up. Especially on highways. Here rain showers can happen suddenly. Plus exhaust gases from other cars. So at this moment I prefer to stay in regular car, not a convertible. That's just my opinion.
      Trent
      • 5 Months Ago
      Its masked as a donor program for the rich.
      PTC DAWG
      • 5 Months Ago
      Who didn't know that?
      Tom
      • 2 Days Ago

      Like any "niche" product, you either like convertibles or you don't.  There are no real rational or emotional arguments that will change the minds of either group.

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