In Britain we love convertibles, so the chance to buy an open-top car and be patriotic at the same time is too good to miss. Here are some of the best home-grown convertibles.
1 - Vauxhall VX220 (2000-2005)
In mainland Europe they called this roadster the Opel Speedster and it sold by the bucket load. In the UK it was called a Vauxhall and most badge-obsessed Brits walked on by.
More fool them. This lightweight two-seater packs a 147bhp 2.2-litre in-line four amidships, enough to propel the car to 136mph and from zero to 60mph in 5.6sec. Track down the hotter VX220T, with its 200bhp 2.0-litre turbo, and you can dispatch 60mph in under 5.0sec.
It’s fun in the bends, too: agile, chuckable and easily recoverable, with go-kart steering and great balance. The driving position is superb, brakes are good and it even comes with airbags and ABS.
It’s arguably a more rounded package than a Lotus Elise, with which it shares its basic chassis. You can pick one up now from just £8k. Watch out for signs of hard track-day use and beware of accident-damaged cars.
2 - BAC Mono (2011-onwards)
If it looks like a grounded fighter plane, this central, single-seat open supercar actually goes like a rocket.
Beneath that F-22 Raptor-inspired carbonfibre bodywork lies a mid-mounted 280bhp 2.3-litre Cosworth four. Drive goes to the rear wheels via a six-speed F3-style sequential Hewland gearbox. Dry weight is just 580kg, 0-62mph takes 2.8sec and top speed is a very blustery 170mph. It’s beautifully balanced in the bends, grips well and brakes powerfully. There’s no pitch, no roll - and no weather protection, either.
New, it’ll set you back £125,500. There are 40 of them so far, so if you’re lucky, you might find a second-hand one for around the same price.
3 - TVR 420/450SE V8 Wedges (1980-1991)
‘Hairy-chested’ is the phrase most often used to describe TVRs, but the original Oliver Winterbottom-designed Tasmins now look rather dainty.
It was initially based on lowly Ford underpinnings, but a 190bhp 3.5-litre Rover V8 arrived in 1983 and things started to improve. In 1985 it was enlarged to 3.9 litres, before eventually reaching 4.4 litres and a brutish 325bhp in the 450 SE. Think 0-60mph in 5.2sec and 150mph. SEACs are faster still.
These V8s are meaty, mighty and a bit of a handful, but they grip and handle well. If you can put up with the sheer loutishness, then old-fashioned open-top fun doesn’t come much better.Prices start at £20k for a good V8.
4 - Panther Lima (1976-1982)
Fancy a drop-top British roadster of classic style but think a Morgan too common? Then hunt down a Panther.
Under the Lima’s glassfibre body is the running gear from a Vauxhall Magnum: an easily tuned 108bhp 2.3-litre four driving the rear wheels through a five-speed gearbox. Performance may be modest but this is wind-in-the-hair fun. The Lima covers 0-60mph in 7.6sec and purrs up to a top speed of 112mph. It was replaced by the equally retro Kallista, which has Ford running gear.