2013 Ford Mustang Convertible

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.
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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.