The good news is that there are plenty of great convertibles on the market now, some of them quite affordable -- such as the Mazda Miata, Saturn Sky and Chrysler Sebring, with prices starting well under $30,000.
The even better news is that, even though convertible weather is upon us, several new models feature a fold-down hard top. When it's in the raised position, it creates a car that is just like a regular coupe -- sealed off from the elements so it's a practical vehicle for year-round use in any kind of weather.
Midpriced convertible models include the Volkswagen Eos, Audi TT and Volvo C70, whose starting prices ranging from the low $30,000s to the upper $40,000s.
For those with plenty of disposable income, there are some great high-end models that allow for open-top cruising in grand style.
Among these are the Lexus SC 430, with a base price of about $67,000; the Jaguar XKR, with a starting price of about $94,000; and the Mercedes-Benz SL, which begins in the upper $90,000s but can range as high as $195,000 for the SL65 AMG performance version.
Here's a brief look at some of these open-top cruisers:
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda's popular little roadster was completely redesigned for 2006, and in 2007, an optional retractable hard top was added to the mix. The base car comes with a soft top. For 2009, prices begin at just under $21,000.
The two-seat Sky roadster starts at $26,400. It's one of two small GM convertibles built on the same architecture; the other is the Pontiac Solstice. The manually operated soft top folds completely into the trunk.
America's best-selling convertible, the Sebring got a complete remake for 2008. It was just the second convertible on the market to offer a choice between a standard soft top and a retractable metal top. The base model, which comes with the vinyl top, starts at $26,890 (plus freight).
The Eos is a four-passenger hardtop coupe with a folding roof that turns the vehicle into a full convertible. If you'd rather keep the top up, there's a panoramic sunroof. Prices start at $31,500.
Audi TT Roadster
An all-new generation of the TT arrived last year, and it's great on both style and performance. Prices begin at $37,200 (plus freight).
This midsize, four-passenger model was added to the Volvo lineup two years ago and now has a one-touch control for the three-piece retractable hard top. It has all of the safety features consumers expect with a Volvo. Among those are special side air bags, important in a convertible.
Lexus SC 430
A convertible with a hard top -- the first topless Lexus -- the SC 430 received a mild restyling for 2006, the first since the car arrived as a 2003 model.
The XKR is the up-level performance version of the XK line, whose convertible model begins at a more affordable $84,000. The XKR is a supercharged luxury sports car that goes from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
The two-passenger SL-class roadster is a nearly perfect melding of art and science in a production automobile. The SL comes with a power-retractable hard top that folds away into the trunk.