It’s a curious thing – and a phenomenon that we’ve certainly noticed here a Big Motoring World. The great British public have taken convertibles to their hearts – this despite our less than predictable weather. Most British owners of soft tops will have lost count long ago of the number of times they’ve hopefully looked skywards, taken the roof down and set off on a journey, only to be forced to pull over in a panic only minutes later as the heavens open. This just isn’t natural convertible country.
Which makes the statistics all the more startling. In the ten years following the millennium, sales of convertibles soared – as the number of soft tops on UK roads doubled to nearly a million. And in typically stoic fashion, the research also showed that one in four drivers will still take the top down whatever the weather, with 50 per cent of drivers saying that they’d rather just crank up the heater than put the roof up. Many British drivers seem to take a similar attitude to driving with the roof down to the way they approach UK beach holidays – ‘I’ve paid good money for this, and I’m going to enjoy it, whatever the weather’.
Possibly the most impressive statistic of all is the news that here in the UK we also buy more convertibles than the French, Spanish and Italians – all nations with noticeably more dependable weather. So what is the explanation behind this? Well, here at Big Motoring World we think there are number of factors.
A unique attitude
Take the British attitude to the weather. ‘Summer’ in the UK is a pretty loosely defined thing – days can change dramatically, raining one minute and blazing sunshine the next. The new generation of soft tops are actually perfectly suited to these conditions in some ways, thanks to the way that technology has made it much easier to get the roof up and down quickly.
There’s also something about our national psyche that wants to extract every last drop of enjoyment from those fleeting summer days – and where better to do it than on the open road with the top down.
The final reason is probably a little more mundane – we’re a country of car lovers, convertibles just look great, and as a nation we find them hard to resist. Some evidence for that assertion?
Exhibit A: Britain’s favourite convertible, the gorgeous Mercedes SLK, of course.