Open top OAPs take to the road

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  • Convertible cars more likely to be bought by over-sixties women
  • Hot weather halts downward sales trend
  • Most costly convertible listed by AA Cars is a Ferrari 458 Spider F1 DCT

The open road, the blazing sun – perhaps with the 1995 compilation album ‘Open top car: girl in a T-shirt’ blaring from the speakers. The exclusive province of a bronzed young couple heading for the coast, topping up the tan as they go?

But the reality is rather different. According to the latest AA Cars report into the ‘State of the Nation’s Cars’ using the AA’s car insurance statistics, the owner of a convertible is more likely to be a sunshine-seeking sixty-something woman.

The AA’s findings show that drivers of convertibles between the ages of 45 and 69 are most likely to be women. It’s only below age 44 and above age 70 that men outnumber women as convertible owners.

Women aged 60-64 are most likely to be convertible owners (18%, compared with 13% of men). Next highest ownership is among women aged 65-69 and 55-59.

Only 3.1% of convertible drivers are below age 44, 3.8% of them men, 2.4% women.

14.5% of convertible drivers are aged over 70, 18% of them men, 11% women.

Although convertibles represent only 4.1%* of cars (1.3 million) on Britain’s roads, this is the highest ownership ratio in Europe, according to industry insiders.

Edmund King, director of AA Cars says: “You’d think that an open top would have much more appeal in hotter regions, such as the south of France, Italy or Spain.

“But in such places, it is often so hot that drivers prefer a saloon with decent air-conditioning.”

Tops off to the South East

Regionally, convertible cars insured by the AA** are most likely to be seen in the South East (25%); followed by the South West (16%). Perhaps not surprisingly convertible cars are least likely to be owned by those in Northern Ireland (1%), Wales (5%) and Scotland (6%).

These figures are broadly reflected by car viewings made by visitors to AA Cars, the new online car sales platform launched in July.

convertible]Mr King says: “Over 3,800 of the 116,000 cars listed on AA Cars*** are convertibles. The recession and a succession of wet summers halved sales of new convertibles past four years, but the present hot spell has brought resurgence in interest.

“The greatest number of viewings is in London and the South East at 27%, followed by Yorkshire, 13% and East England 12%.

“We also find that drivers wanting a convertible look for the car of their dreams over a much wider geographic area than those looking for a saloon.”

Mr King observes that the most expensive convertibles currently listed on AA Cars are a Ferrari 458 Spider F1 DCT with a price tag of £224,940; a McLaren 12C Spider (£196,950) and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe (£184,995).

“But for more modest tastes there are plenty of convertible Audis, BMWs, Peugeots, VWs, Minis and others to choose from!”

So why are convertible owners most likely to be older women?

Mr King suggests: “People might imagine that convertible cars would have greatest appeal among younger drivers. But the realities of family life and affordability are most likely to dictate a choice of car that reflects their circumstances.

“I believe that many women who have put family behind them can at last afford the car they want, rather than the car they need and choose a car that implies freedom and an exciting new motoring era.

“And to check you don’t buy a lemon convertible, go to www.theAAcars.com where you will get a complimentary AA Cars History check which could mean you buy a peach.”

*Source: SMMT.  Peak of convertible sales since 1998 was 4.7% (109,171 cars) in 2007, but the figure dropped to 2.7% (55,211 cars) in 2012, reflecting both the recession and successive wet summers.

**Source: AA Insurance statistics July 2013 

***Source: AA Cars

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