ENGINES are getting pricey – if it’s not rising fuel prices, it’s the cars themselves that are getting more expensive due to supply chain problems.
But cheap driving is still possible and cheap thrills come no easier than in a budget drop-top motorcycle.
We love an open roof here in the UK, and buy more than any other country in Europe for our size. It must be our cracking weather.
The good news is that if you’re on a budget, the second-hand market is flooded with bargains ready to enjoy this summer.
You don’t have to spend much either – we’ve found four brilliant bargains that you can get for under £2,000 and don’t use a lot of fuel.
In fact, if you’ve had fun and winter sets in, they’re all attractive enough to easily resell.
Today, MG focuses on electric cars, but it is known for decades of making beautiful two-seat roadsters with a racing pedigree.
The MG F was not widely loved as a new car in 1995, but now you can buy decent low mileage examples for around £1500, making it a solid choice.
It steers well and thanks to the small petrol engines you do not run through the fuel.
As with all open-tops, check for damp spots on the inside to avoid roof leaks, but some MG Fs are prone to suspension fatigue, so listen for knocks during the test drive.
Saab 9-3 Convertible (2004-2012)
Saab is no longer with us after folding back in 2011, but there are plenty left on the used market.
The 9-3 was a smart looking high quality car that drove well and looks like a real bargain these days.
There is room for four adults inside, many have leather seats and fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines are on offer.
Trying to spend almost £2000 for a good one, check the roof for leaks and the front tires for wear.
Mini Cooper Convertible (2004-2008)
BMW’s reinvention of the Mini may seem like yesterday, but it was actually more than 20 years ago.
That means the prices of early Cooper Convertible models look very attractive, with many decent examples around £2000.
Like all Minis, the Convertible feels agile to drive and its small engines guzzle fuel.
Check that the electric roof is in order and working properly and listen for knocking suspension and rattling dashboards during the test drive.
For around £1700 you can have a Mercedes drop top in your life – and not an old snotter, either.
The press wasn’t thrilled with the SLK at launch, but for the money it should be on your list of cheap summer bikes.
It corners well, is comfortable in the long run and none of its engines use a lot of fuel for the money.
The SLK has quite the reputation for reliability, so make sure the roof is in good working order and try to buy a car with as much service history as possible.