For the last few weeks the sun has cracked the paving stones with metronomic regularity and predictably our fleet of convertibles in Devon, Yorkshire and the Cotswolds have been working overtime. But good things don't last and while the warm weather looks likely to stick around, it's interspersed with rain, in some places rather a lot of it.
Since at Great Escape our brains are pretty much hard wired into classic cars our immediately thoughts were about the right way to enjoy Britain's esoteric weather - full convertible, targa top or sunroof? Of course, the obvious answer is 'who cares?' To which the obviously answer is, sadly we do. So here are the pros and cons of each option so you can make an informed decision. To ensure fairness and equality we have more targa top, convertible and sunroof-equipped cars on our fleet than anyone else.
Cars with removal roof panels - targas or T-Tops - became popular in the 1970s, largely in response to US safety legislation that looked likely to outlaw full convertibles. It didn't but targa cars continued to sell. Targa cars either have one removable roof panel or two and were popularised by Fiat with the X1/9, Porsche 911, TVR and Chevrolet with the Corvette. This style has remained popular because it offers a compromise between full convertible and hard top while retain much of the structural rigidity of its metal roofed cousins. The benefits of a targa include that relative lack of scuttle shake and a big sky view without big-hair-bothering breezes. On the downside, targa top roofs need storage space when removed and in compact sports cars this generally means Most Of The Boot. They are also slower to remove and replace than most convertible roofs. However, if you like open top motoring without needing to visit the hairdresser after every trip and you like structural rigidity, a targa is a surprisingly good compromise. Great Escape has several excellent targas on the fleet - Fiat X1/9, TVR Chimera and Chevrolet Corvette.
Back when electric windows were considered a luxury, a sunshine roof - or sunroof for us plebs - was similarly out of reach on the options list. Until the 1980s that is, when virtually every car suddenly sprouted a glass roof. Now, in our era of air conditioned luxury, sunroofs are a relatively rare sight again. But affiionados love them. A decent sunroof provides ventilation, a glimpse of the sky and a hint of open top motoring. It doesn't compromise structural strength and keeps even the loosest of hairdoes intact. There have been several sunroof designs - the pop up, the pop out, the steel sliding, the glass sliding. On the plus side a sunroof opens up a car and can be used in all weathers, on the downside it isn't a convertible. But for Britain's endlessly changing fickle weather perhaps a sunroof's versatility and simplicity represents an excellent choice. We have many sunroof-equipped cars on our fleet including Saab 900, Jensen Interceptor and Ford Capri.
Britain buys more convertibles than anyone else and when the sun does shine on our sceptred isle convertible classics are dusted off and grace our roads in droves. There is a simple reason - our weather favours convertibles because we have warm rather than scorching summers. Perhaps there is also an element of wishful glass-half-full thinking going on in the heads of convertible buyers too - maybe, just maybe I may get to use it this year. A good convertible is an utter joy - there can be few more fun ways to drive than with the top down in the sun on a quiet country lane. The upsides are obvious, the downsides less so - scuttle shake, wind in the hair and the chance of getting wet. But, frankly, who cares when the upsides are so good? A Great Escape we love drop tops and we have more on our fleet than anyone else - with prices from just £95 per day covering everything from Fiat X1/9 to Jaguar E Type.
So which is better? The answer is none of them. Whether you choose a targa, sunroof or convertible will depend on what you plan to do and where you plan to go. Although if you've never driven a convertible in the sun we higghly recommend it. Whatever the rest of summer throws at us we have the choice of open top motoring to suit you and your budget. To find out more about our hire fleets in Yorkshire, Cotswolds and Devon call 01527 893733 or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk. Mention this article and claim 10% off hire from one of these sites.