We've owned convertibles throughout our marriage. As of last Sept, we are ragtopless for the first time since we were married 32 years ago. They have been a Chevelle, several Volkswagens, a Suzuki Samurai (RH drive Japanese domestic version
) two military vehicles ... and the last one, a Chrysler Sebring. The point is that a project ragtop is all fine and great. You know all the main stuff (mechanicals, drivetrain, body work, blah blah blah. and then ... you get to the top. I've dealt with three of the tops on our cars. They can be frustrating beyond belief -- they are hard to get right. and that's if the mechanical part of it is adjusted right. And have you ever seen a convertible top frame without the fabric on it? If it's out of adjustment ... how can you tell?? So maybe you have more skill and patience than I do and can do it yourself. Great. But then, which replacement top do you buy? Just because it's expensive doesn't mean its better ... its a crap shoot sometimes. So you may decide to take it to a pro ... finding someone willing *and* experienced to do it can be challenging. And even so, the best top your car will ever have is the one the factory put on it. I've never seen a convertible with a replacement top that looked anywhere as good as an original. (the military trucks being the exception. The replacement canvas was *better* than the originals ...) The replacement top we put on the Chevelle looked like crap and it didn't last nearly as long as the original did. We got to the point where we got rid of the Sebring when it needed a new top. Goodbye Sebring. Hello VW Golf Alltrack Wagon.
Living with a convertible is different, too. When we went out, I never locked the car (all you need is a big knife to get it) so I learned to never leave anything of value in the car. Also, if you don't have a garage or at least a carport to park the car, your top will deteriorate quickly in the sun. I can't tell you how many times I woke up in the middle of a night time thunderstorm wondering if I had actually put the top up. I learned to never leave the car anywhere unattended with the top down. If I was wandering off, always put the top up. Even in the driveway.
Oh yeah ... ragtops leak in the rain, are bitter cold in the winter and are EZBake ovens in the Summer. They can truly be nice weather transportation only after a while. But oh man, on the nice Spring or Fall cloudless days with low humidity and an ocean close by ... they can't be beat.
Ragtops are fun and a way of life. If you like Jimmy Buffet's "Ragtop Day" then you know what I mean. Also, and it may be a surprise, but having owned several antique ragtops, I was always amazed that the power mechanisms were always the last parts of the car to need attention. The Chevelle's top system never needed attention -- it always went up and down on command. Which was good because it was heavy. The Sebring's needed to have hydraulic fluid added every couple of years but that was it. The VW's and the Alfa Romeo Spyder were manual so as long as my shoulders were good, I could just reach back, grab the top, hook the latches and be off again. The Suzuki was a PITA because it was like a boat or a Jeep. Most of the time, we just ran it with a bimini or nothing at all.
Speaking of the Alfa ... and leaking tops ... that Alfa leaked sooooo bad that I have always wondered why the Italians even bothered to put it on the car in the first place ... All it did halfway well was be a sun shade. But it didn't even do that particularly well. Same for the M-37. I think between the road spray and the rain coming in, you probably stay dryer without the top on than with it.
There may yet be one more ragtop in our future ... maybe ... a '63 VW Cabrio. Sigh ....