When you think of cabriolets do you picture yourself driving along twisty Alpine roads, your hair wrapped in a headscarf, shades on, and maybe a dashing man beside you?
Well if you are a cabriolet owner in Ireland the reality may be somewhat different.
Firstly, there is the weather to contend with. In a country where you can have rain, hail, snow and a bit of sun all in one day, you are more likely to feel the sting of rain and wind against your face while driving with the top down, than a gentle, warm breeze lapping around your shoulders.
Then there are other road-users. People will think you are a show-off even though it’s hard not to draw attention to yourself when driving a convertible in Ireland because they are such a rarity.
Then of course there are the practicalities. What about wind noise? How will I keep the roof clean? And if you dare to leave the top down for a few minutes outside your house you run the risk of coming out to find that the neighbour’s cat has made a bed on the backseat. Your car interior is also a prime target for birds flying overhead (it’s all fun and games until you hear a splat).
So the weather is against you, everybody thinks you are a twat and the local wildlife is only too ready to make themselves at home if you forget to let that roof up.
All in all open-top motoring sounds like a bit of a joyless experience. So for a bit of balance I thought I had better ask someone who owns a convertible what is the appeal.
Realistically how many times a year can you actually let the roof down? I put this to my sister. “Less than ten times a year,” she said. “But for those ten days it’s a brilliant feeling to drive with the roof down. It’s like the driving equivalent of going out to let your hair down. Instead you let the top down.”
But is it not really uncomfortable? “You do feel a bit windswept but you just have to remember to wear lots of layers and tie your hair back,” she says. “And don’t have anything lying on the seats that could be blown away,” she adds. I reckon she found out the hard way about that!
So it looks like I’m missing the point about cabriolets. I do have to admit that the people in the ads for these cars always look very happy. I suppose there is something a little hedonistic about open-top driving.
Don’t let me put you off with my talk of awful Irish weather, wind noise and canvas roof maintenance – there are some lovely cabriolets out there to choose from. The current crop of fashion-led cabrios are extremely tempting. While we may not have the warm weather to enjoy the experience of open-top driving, there is nothing to stop you having the dashing man beside you as you cruise down the motorway on a damp summer’s day!