What could be finer than taking your sports car for a drive with the roof down on a sunny day?
How about hurtling towards the horizon with a 200mph-plus gale tugging at your follicles? Welcome to the world of super-fast convertibles. Who cares if you’d drive these cars flat out with the hood stashed away and just revel in the fact such machines exist to push the boundaries of speed, engineering and hair products. We include pricing in both US dollars and British pounds.
AC Cobra 378: 180mph; $140,000/£90,000
The original AC Cobra was one of the fastest cars of its day in the 1960s, never mind what body type was fitted. It was also famed for its voracious acceleration and this modern-day 378 is no different, getting from rest to 60mph in less than four seconds.
It helps there’s a 550bhp supercharged V8 under the bonnet that will thunder this official AC Cobra to a top speed of 180mph.
One of the founding tenets of Jaguar is pace and the F-Type SVR Convertible is certainly not short on that. Its 567bhp supercharged 5.0-litre V8 makes all manner of delectable noises as it accelerates the Brit roadster to its top speed. At full noise it pulls 195mph, which is quick but not quite fast enough to broach the magic double ton marker.
However, the Jag is also easy to live with day to day and far more practical than most of the others in this exclusive club.
Aston Martin Vanquish S Volante: 197mph; $315,775/£211,950
Is there a more cultured way to let the wind waft through your hair than from behind the sonorous notes of an Aston Martin V12 engine? The Vanquish Volante is one of those cars that speaks softly of its style, but bury the throttle pedal into the thick carpet and it will carry on to 197mph. The 5.9-litre V12 is one of the most delightful sounding engines of any car and dropping the roof lets you hear it all the more clearly.
And, impressively, the fabric roof only adds 9kg (20lb) to the overall weight compared to the coupe model. If you want one you’ll need to act fast as the successor to the Vanquish, the DBS Superleggera, has just arrived, and the convertible version won't be too far behind.
The clue’s in the name of this Lamborghini: Performante. It takes the stylish Huracan Spyder and ups the power to 631bhp from its normally aspirated 5.2-litre motor. That’s just enough to nudge this Italian into the 200mph club in all its noise and bark.
If you want to go quicker, the coupe will hit 202mph, but then you don’t have the pleasure of being able to drop the fabric roof and hear that V10 in all its aural pomp.
Ferrari 488 Spider: 202mph; $350,050/£205,271
Mid-engined, V8-powered convertible Ferraris have been cool ever since Thomas Magnum wiggled his moustache and the 488 Spider is the fastest to date. Yes, it’s 50kg (110 lb) heavier than the coupe which makes it a fraction slower, but the sensation of speed is all the greater when you retract the roof into its cubby in front of the engine.
Incidentally, that roof is made from carbonfibre and is a full 25kg (55 lb) lighter than the one used in the 430 Spider.
Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus: 204mph; $208,100/£149,890
Audi democratisation of the supercar genre with the R8 extends all way into the realms of 200mph-plus convertibles. Where most of the cars in this rarefied corner of the market have considerably heftier prices, the R8 Spyder V10 Plus slips in with a figure that looks almost attainable for the average Joe.
There’s nothing middle of the road about its pace, though, with 0-62mph coming up in only 3.3 seconds and it will reach 204mph at full tilt.
McLaren 570S Spider: 204mph; $208,800/£164,750
It’s a rare day when a McLaren slinks in at the lower half of a comparison with its peers, but that’s just where the 570S Spider resides. No shame in that when it has a top whack of 204mph and dispenses 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds. The roof folds away just as swiftly, it takes only 15 seconds to turn the 570S from a snug coupe into a fresh air fiend.
You can also manage this at up to 25mph, so no embarrassing dives for the side of the road when it starts to rain.
From the early days of Bentleys thundering around the Brooklands banking in the 1920s and ’30s, open-top cars with the winged ‘B’ badge have always been a bit special. So it is with the Continental Supersports Convertible that pounds its way to a 205mph maximum despite, at 2455kg (5401lb), being heavier than any of its rivals in this exclusive sector.
Much of that speed comes from the turbocharged W12 engine that generates 700bhp, while a four-layer fabric roof insulates you from the world when you want to travel roof-up.
Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet: 205mph; $203,000/£156,381
Cracking 200mph is no easy task, which is why Porsche asks a further £21,000 ($29,000) premium over the mere standard Turbo Cabriolet. That bags you an extra 40bhp which is what’s needed to up the top speed from 198mph to 205mph.
The 911 is unusual in this group as one of the few with four seats, so you can give the whole family a taste of very brisk wind in the hair driving when the fabric roof is stowed away in just 14 seconds.
Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster: 208mph
The rather windily titled Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster was the last hurrah for this supercharged V8 supercar that never quite captured exotic car buyers’ imaginations in the way that was hoped.
Maybe it looked too similar to the contemporary SL, but now it’s a sought-after neo-classic and no wonder when it can hit 208mph. Forced induction helps the 5.4-litre V8 score 617bhp, which is delivered to the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic gearbox. It makes the SLR remarkably easy to drive, even if it didn’t quite cure all of the coupe’s foibles. Last built in 2009, used examples can be found from £340,000 in the UK and $340,000 in the US.
Pagani Huayra Roadster: 210mph; $2.41 million/£1.86 million
When your older sibling is the jaw-dropping Zonda, you need to do something amazing to stand out in the Pagani family. The Huayra Roadster does that and more thanks to its looks and ability to tug your rug at up to 210mph.
There’s also the eye-widening price, though at least it does bag you 753bhp. However, you will have to remove the roof manually and find somewhere to store it when you head out for an open-air drive.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 Convertible: 211mph; $123,995/£96,000
On a performance-per-buck ratio, the Corvette ZR1 Convertible must outstrip all of the others in this list. While not dirt cheap, it’s remains within the reach of mere mortals yet offers a top speed that rises above cars costing as much as 20 times more than Chevy’s finest.
Packing 755bhp and 715lb ft from its supercharged 6.2-litre V8, it’s little wonder the ’vette is good for 211mph and 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds, which makes it look like a bargain.
Porsche 918 Spyder: 215mph; $845,000/£781,155
Porsche has a long history of building cars with a Targa-style roof and the 918 Spyder is another in that tradition. The simple, light carbon fibre twin panels are quick and easy to remove, and they store in a purpose-design space under the bonnet.
Yes, you have to do this manually while parked up, but it’s a small price to pay for the al fresco enjoyment of one of the world’s quickest convertibles that also happens to be capable of 400 miles between fuel stops thanks to its hybrid power. Last built in 2015, used examples are to be found from £1.2 million in the UK and $1.5 million in America.
With a name like SuperVeloce, this Lamborghini Aventador Roadster was never going to be a slouch. Keep your toe to the board and it will hit 217mph all out. Best of all, on the way to that giddy maximum you get to hear one of the last normally aspirated supercar engines in full howl.
Reaching such a rate of knots will almost certainly take less time than it does to remove and stow the roof panels, but at least they’re far easier to use than the previous Murcielago’s tent-like fabric roof.
Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta: 217mph
Ferrari created the LaFerrari Aperta as an open-top celebration of its 70th anniversary. It’s quite a gift thanks to its 217mph maximum speed and the asking price was pretty special too. Originally, only 209 were planned, but an extra car was added at the end of the production run to be auctioned off for charity; it went for US$10 million.
Every Aperta comes with a fabric roof that’s quick and easy to remove and Ferrari managed to make the convertible just as rigid as the coupe to maintain this hybrid supercar’s driving manners.
Noble M600 Speedster: 225mph; $450,000/£247,000
Noble has been doling out bloody noses to the supercar aristocracy for two decades and the M600 Speedster carries on the good work. Priced significantly lower than comparably fast rivals, it’s also a good bit quicker than all but the most expensive, exotic and powerful. Propulsion comes from a Judd-fettled 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 pushing out 650bhp that takes the Brit to 225mph flat out.
It’s helped by a slender kerb weight of just 1198kg (2636lb) compared to a Veyron’s 1990kg (4378lb) and the carbon fibre roof panel contributes to this even further as there’s nowhere to stow it in the car when it’s removed.
Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse: 254.8mph
When it was revealed in 2012, the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse was the fastest open-top car the world had ever seen. That was entirely the intention as this was a last hurrah for the Veyron that came with 1183bhp courtesy of larger turbo chargers than the standard model. The downside was a big more lag and a slower 0-62mph time of 2.6 seconds.
Hardly sluggish and the top end of 254.8mph was backed up by brakes that could generate 2.0g of stopping power. There’s one up for sale at present for £2.75 million (UK); one sold at auction in the US in 2017 for $2.35 million.
Hennessey Venom GT Spyder: 265.6mph; $1.3 million/£1 million
Love or loathe the music of Aerosmith, we have the rock band’s Steve Tyler to thank for the creation of the Hennessey Venom GT Spyder. He wanted one of the US-built, Lotus Exige-chassied and twin-turbo Corvette V8-powered missiles but with an open-top roof.
Hennessy duly obliged and in 2016 it rocketed into the record books as the fastest convertible ever with a top speed of 265.6mph set on the US Navy’s Lemoore, California runway. Quick, yes, but not as fast as the coupe model that clocked 270.4mph in 2014.
Koenigsegg Agera RS: 277.87mph; $2.1 million/£1.47 million
If you want ultimate bragging rights when it comes to convertible cars’ top speed, you need a Koenigsegg Agera RS. Its substantial price tag buys you a top speed of 277.87mph, which is usually the preserve of Bonneville Salt Flat racers. The 5.0-litre twin-turbo V8 generates 1144bhp to propel the Agera to such dizzy speeds, while the aerodynamics create 485kg (1067lb) of downforce at 155mph to keep the RS planted.
Despite this, Koenigsegg describes the Agera as ‘practical’ as the roof panel can stored inside the car.