Modern convertibles are one touch affairs where you press the down button, on the dash or remote, and the electronics do everything to get your top and windows down and stowed away. This activity is almost breathtaking to watch, the hydraulic and electric dance of motors, servos, sensors and cylinders.
But this array of electronics and motors doesn’t come cheap. Most Saab convertibles (for instance) come with 5 year and 50,000 mile warranties and the factory guarantees your top will work during that period. These top designs are usually farmed out to companies like AST and are not designed in house by the manufacturers. And practically all modern convertibles are done this way.
Now that your car is out of warranty and the top breaks (which it will) what are you facing? Parts are extremely expensive… even aftermarket parts on the internet don’t give you much of a break. Top cylinders are usually $500 bucks apiece, and where they use motors, they are usually more, around a grand apiece, and there are at least 4 of them in the usual top. Potentiometers and sensors are all over a hundred each, and there are lots of them. If you have a tonneau cover that covers up your top automatically, there are more motors and cylinders involved. Then there’s the guy that’s gonna put it all together for you, he usually comes in at a hundred dollars an hour.
I’ve always been a kind of minimalist kinda guy, and I was always a fan of how Fiat did their tops in the 70’s. It took one hand to put it up or down. Nothing to break. Unfortunately there was plenty other things on a Fiat to break. Buying an older used convertible can easily turn into an expensive purchase.