Dear Tom and Ray: I want one more crack at a convertible, having had a wonderful Dodge Dart convertible in earlier years (it was stolen in Detroit when I left it with a company to replace the top and they parked it on the street — boo hoo!). Background: I’m 93 years old, drive a 2000 Subaru Outback (also a great car but has high mileage and a roof). I have extensive driving experience — across the country twice, 3,300 miles last summer (Mill Valley, Calif.; Durango, Colo.; Moab, Utah; across Nevada and back home). No arrests, no accidents, no problems (so far). What would you recommend for a secondhand, moderately priced, safe (air bags), serviceable and FUN convertible? Many thanks for your assistance. I’ve loved your column and radio show for many years. — Anne
RAY: Well, first I have to ask if you’d accept a marriage proposal from my brother. He’s been looking for someone like you ever since Wife No. 2 changed the locks.
TOM: I see you in a Porsche Turbo Carerra, Anne — as long as I’m not making the payments. I’ve made enough “payments” already, if you know what I mean!
RAY: Actually, the car that first comes to mind for you is the Toyota Camry Solara. It’s basically a Camry with two doors and a convertible top.
TOM: There are several things that make me think the Solara is the convertible for you. First, it’s based on the Toyota Camry, which means it’ll be durable, reliable, ergonomically practical and easy to service.
RAY: Second, it’s a little bigger than some of the sportier convertible alternatives, like the Mazda Miata, the Mini Cooper or the VW Golf Convertible. And if you’re driving across the country, it’s nice to have a little room for your belongings and not feel cramped. Plus a slightly larger car will feel more stable on the interstate at high speeds. Not to mention that size often adds some measure of safety if you do have an accident.