Currently, I have a 1996 Mazda MX-5 and there are some things I like about it and some things that I don’t. I like the convertible-ness of it, I like the size and handling, I like the upfront lower cost (I paid just over 3 thousand), and I like the yearly cost (low maintenance and low insurance). Now, here’s the other side of the coin. While I like the go-kart like handling, I’m not as big a fan of the somewhat slow speed of the Miata. I’d also like something with a bit more luxury (power windows and doors and a bit more leather/ bit less plastic) and (I know it’s pathetic), a bit more social desirability. I wouldn’t turn down something with 4 seats for the kid-O’s, but it’s not a necessity. Manual gearboxes only, please.
I feel like I’ve run the gamut of available options and things seem to either go towards the underpowered/Spartan Miata-style convertible, or venture into the $300 dollar a month side of life (after maintenance and insurance).
So, I’m looking for a fairly inexpensive (though not necessarily Mazda inexpensive) convertible with a bit more power, same excellent handling, more luxury, and a bit more social desirability. Also, I’m not against wrenching on my own, though I am fairly new at doing so. Finally, I’d like to keep the upfront cost less than 18 thousand and it would be great if it were in the rocky mountain region.
DT Vince: For my money, at the $18k range, I'm going to head straight to the BMW Z4 M Roadster -- like this 2006 BMW Z4 M here on eBay offered for $19,900 buy-it-now or make-offer located in San Marcos, CA. The E85 Z4 (2003-2008) is a fantastic roadster and the M version is the one to get -- 3.2 liter S54B32 inline-6 pushes 330 horsepower into a 6-speed gearbox, limited slip diff out back, athletic reflexes all around -- you cannot drive a Z4 M without a smile on your face -- bonus if you can do your own wrenching as these are getting up in age and the BMW service writer will take a hoover to your wallet at every opportunity. You can save a few grand up front by opting for the non M version like this 2003 Z4 3.0i here on eBay offered here on eBay for $10,000 buy-it-now, but I think the M version will hold value better and keep you happy for longer.