There is just something about a convertible. Everyone from Rascal Flatts to Too $hort to the Red Hot Chili Peppers sings about cruising around with the top down. So much of our time spent behind the wheel is drudgery—commuting, running errands, shuttling kids around. The convertible is the opposite of all that. It’s a symbol of freedom, of fun. A way of being closer to nature, albeit in a gas-guzzling automobile. Convertibles are also a great way to be seen, because what good is having an awesome ride if nobody knows who it belongs to?
The first cars were all open. Even when enclosed bodies were introduced they were initially just for the passengers. So in some ways, driving a convertible can be seen as adhering to automotive tradition. But the real reason to drive a convertible isn’t academic, it’s visceral. It’s tough to resist smiling when you’re riding with the top down. And that smile turns into a devilish smirk when you jam on the gas.
It also helps that automakers from the U.S. Italy, and Germany have created some truly beautiful convertibles over the years. Narrowing it down to 10 for this list was not easy. The top 10 Ferrari convertibles alone could spark an endless debate. What I settled on are not the fastest drop-tops (although there’s some goers in there), but the cars that I would most want to drive as the sun sets on a summer day. Try not to drool.
10. VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE
Even though the VW Beetle traces its origins back to Hitler, the car still brings joy to its drivers and all those that yell “Punch buggie!” as they wail on their friends when they pass one. Pull up to a red light in one of these and you’re not going to beat anyone off the line, but everyone will nod approvingly as you putter on down the road with the a light breeze in your hair.
9. FORD MUSTANG
“Stay gold, Pony boy.” With its candy apple red color, the first generation of the Mustang is essentially 1960s Americana in automobile form. It gave birth to the Wilson Pickett song “Mustang Sally” and led to copycats like the Chevy Camaro and Pontiac Firebird.
8. TOYOTA LAND CRUISER FJ40
Convertibles don’t have to be sports cars. The Toyota FJ40 was an SUV before the term even existed and was built to get you into (and out of) hard-to-reach locations. It’s a rugged workhorse, as evidenced by the fact that many are still on the road today. Not only is the top removable, but so are the doors. Combine that with a windshield that folds down and this becomes a true al fresco vehicle.
7. CHEVY CORVETTE Z06
The Corvette, while an icon of American auto manufacturing, has never really gotten its due in terms of performance. If there are any doubts, the 2015 Corvette Z06 puts them to rest. Jay Leno was pulled over while test driving the ‘Vette, with its 650hp engine that can do 0-60 in 2.95 seconds. The best part is the price. For under $80 grand you get a car that is just as fierce as those that cost five times as much.
6. LINCOLN CONTINENTAL
The fourth-generation of the Continental that was released in 1961 is a full-blown land yacht. This was a car to pack the crew in, aided by the “suicide” rear doors, which were hinged toward the back of the car. It’s the ride that Drama, Vince, E, and Turtle pile out of at the end of the opening sequence of Entourage and the hardtop version was converted into the Deathmobile in Animal House.
5. ALFA ROMEO SPIDER DUETTO
This pocket sized roadster was the final project that the founder of the legendary Pininfarina design studio, Battista “Pinin” Farina, was personally associated with. With minor changes, the Spider continued as a staple of Alfa’s lineup through the early 1990s, a testament to its design appeal.
4. BUGATTI VEYRON GRAND SPORT VITESSE
They just had to make a convertible version of the superest of supercars, the Bugatti Veyron. The Grand Sport Vitesse is the fastest roadster in the world, with a 1,200 hp engine, the ability to go from 0-62 mph in 2.6 seconds, and a top speed of 255 mph. At those speeds you probably won’t be able to talk to your passenger while you drive with the top off, but you won’t want to. You’ll be too busy grinning from ear to ear.
3. FERRARI 308 GTS
Magnum fuckin’ P.I. drove this Ferrari. That alone should tell you how awesome it is. The targa top (the removable section of the roof) stowed neatly behind the seats and the body was reinforced for the open-air driving experience. Introduced in 1977, the 308 GTS looked like a bullet and embodied the braggadocio of the disco era.
2. PORSCHE 356 SPEEDSTER
The 356 was the first production car that Porsche made. It’s the precursor to the iconic Porsche 911, as evidenced by its bulbous front end and sloping rear. When James Dean began his fascination with cars, this was one of the ones he purchased. (So did Dylan McKay on 90210 and Malcolm In The Middle’s Frankie Muniz, but forget about that).
1. JAGUAR E-TYPE
This is the car that put Jaguar on the map and showed what British automakers could do. Enzo Ferrari, who made some stunning cars of his own, called the E-Type “the most beautiful car ever made.” His opinion was cosigned by the Museum of Modern Art, which added one to its permanent collection.