Consider how much more thrilling life could be with a convertible.

There’s something about actually feeling the weather rather than imagining it through a digital outside-temperature display that literally gives variety to a day -- the burst of warmth when the clouds slide off the sun, the tangible chill as you drive through a rocky gorge, the ozone-y atmosphere of an approaching thunderstorm.

But are you really ready for driving with the top down?

Probably not.

Oh, don’t feel bad: It just means you’re perfectly sane, not willfully sensual.

After all, little more than 2 percent of U.S. new-car buyers opt for convertibles, and there are good reasons why. Even though those of us who love convertibles do our best to ignore them.

Convertibles are rolling compromises. Compared with solid-roofed cars, they are less weather- and noise-tight and not as structurally strong.

But the biggest reason that convertibles don’t get much respect is that the vast majority of motorists would rather be encapsulated in a silent, climate-controlled, rolling office/sound stage/den than be out in the open, assaulted by every loud noise, passing fertilizer whiff and quirk of the weather that a journey might bring.

While convertible manufacturers strive to make their retractable tops ever faster, the rest of the world’s luxury carmakers are soundproofing, silencing and insulating so thoroughly that some have had to add mechanisms to prevent drivers from trying to start engines that are already, imperceptibly running.

If the ultimate in comfort, quiet and serenity is what you’re looking for, read no further. You’re not a convertible person.

But if your mother got a motorcycle ride while she was pregnant or, like me, you remember with fondness your first ride in an MG, it just might be time to put the top down.

What the wind brings into your open car can be as oppressive as Interstate diesel fumes or the acrid smell of smoldering brake pads on the truck ahead during a long downhill. But it can also be the unmistakable scent of California eucalyptus, woodstoves on a West Virginia morning or the salt spray of a Cape Cod afternoon.

You’ll have bad hair every day. Your bald spot will get sunburned. The 18-wheeler in the next lane will loom like a 747 about to lift off. People in passing cars will point at you, and you’ll have no idea whether they’re saying, “Cool, I think I’m in love” or “Get a gander at that midlife crisis.”

But buying a convertible can put excitement back into driving. If you’re a convertible person, you’ll be cranking up the heat and putting down the top in March, and it’ll stay there until November. If not, you’ll be driving around with the air-conditioning on and the windows up, wondering why you bought a silly car with a canvas roof.

Read on, and we’ll help you decide.

Skip to other parts of the article from

The Drop-Top of Your Dreams

All About Tops

The (Drop) Top Questions

Are You a Convertible Person?

Did You Know . . .