The topless solution to a mid-life crisis 14



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There’s a television advertisement in which a gentleman of mature years watches enviously as an equally mature couple drives past in a sports car.

The message is that the couple had planned for retirement and could do whatever their desire dictated, including irritating the less fortunate or disciplined by driving around in a sports car.

I used to own a sports car similar to the one in the advertisement which is an MGA, a model built between 1955 and 1962.

This romance with open topped, classic British sports cars came to an abrupt end when I rolled it, a consequence of my exuberance exceeding my ability.

In spite of not being restrained by a seatbelt nor having a roll bar, I walked away with a few scratches.

Since then, however, all my cars have had a metal roof but were I to again consider going topless, then it is a BMW 220i which would most tempt me.

This is the convertible version of the 220i coupe, one that has a metal roof which folds away at the flick of a switch in 20 seconds and which can be raised or lowered at speeds of up to 50kmh.

I prefer to do this when stopped in traffic so as to extract the maximum degree of envy from other motorists and pedestrians but it’s a matter of personal preference.

It’s a handsome machine from any angle, its subtle modernism reflecting the driver’s taste for understated elegance, or so I liked to think when I was driving it.

Convertibles have a reputation for impracticality but the 220i can carry two rear seat passengers in reasonable comfort over short to medium distances.

There’s also sufficient space – 335 litres with the roof up and 280 litres with the roof down – in the boot to accommodate luggage for two for an escape to the beach or mountains.

Convertibles can also be noisy but not the 220i with five layers of insulation in the roof making it as quiet as its fixed roof coupe sibling.

Standard equipment faux leather upholstery, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, heated side mirrors, dual-zone climate control, satnav with a 6.5-inch multimedia screen, auto-dimming rear view mirror, auto headlights, keyless ignition and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The engine is a 2 litre petrol turbo charged four cylinder unit which delivers a smooth surge of acceleration from low engine revs through a silky smooth eight speed automatic transmission.

Fuel consumption should be around 6.2L/100km and the 220i will run on Regular 91 RON unleaded petrol.

This power plant delivers all the performance you would ever need. If you really must spend more money, then there is the 228i and if you want to spend a lot more money and be the fastest kid on the block there is the M235i.

The 220i costs $54,900, the 228i $68,900 and the M235i $85,800 so buy the 220i, pocket the change and buy two business class fares to Europe. Simple.

The lack of a roof may trigger safety concerns but the 220i’s standard features include an automatic rollover protection system that triggers twin roll hoops from behind the rear seat. There’s also dual front and side airbags and BMW’s Connected Drive system which automatically dials 000 if an airbag is deployed.

The 220i manages to blur the line between convertible and sedan in being practical, user-friendly Monday to Friday transport and a stylish, wind-in-your-face weekend cruiser.

Summer looms and with it, convertible friendly weather. Just remember the sunscreen.


BMW 220i convertible

PRICE: From $54,900

WARRANTY: Three years unlimited kilometres

ENGINE: Two litre, four cylinder turbo petrol with power of 137kW and torque of 270Nm


Would you give a sports car a go in your 60s?

Mike O'Connor

Mike O’Connor is a Brisbane-based motoring writer, travel writer and columnist. He’s driven hundreds of different cars, travelled widely and mingled with famous people, none of whom, he confesses, can remember meeting him.

  1. I’ve owned open topped sports cars and very rarely put the roof down for fear of sun and windburn. Not for me now; sports cars are too low slung for my hip replacement! I like my little Peugeot GTi the best of both worlds

  2. I was shocked recently to discover how much younger than she appeared is my convertible driving neighbour. I used to drive the least most luxurious of convertibles a mini moke, and wish I still had one. To always drive a convertible with the top down a lot I don’t think a wise decision, but they are pretty swish.

  3. Id rather have a Mercedes. But why stop where you’re in your 60’s? Do like the way the roof folds away though

  4. I had a convertible in my younger years, I got rained on and even hailed on once and I was always sunburnt, I lost several hats when they blew off and was glad to trade the car in for a sedan

  5. The E Type was the only drophead which excited me. A 2 litre race tuned Clubman yes most definitely. They can be registered so drive them on public roads.

    Better still take them to the circuit and drive them on club days where one can do 280kph with safety. Photo T5 Elfin. B|

  6. I have a hard topped sports model, much as I’d love a soft top, only for sunny days! And i can’t judtify twoo cars!

  7. My favorite car was a 1968 Pontiac GTO, one of the original muscle cars. Kept it for 20 years & sold it for twice what I paid for it.. Wish I still had it…

  8. Ive got a convertable
    Was fun. Till i got 3 degree sunburn. From driving with roof off. Then it rained ot was fasinating that droplets of water fell all t way down from those clouds n land on my eyes. Its mot topless anymore im too old to climb all over the car to cover it. But they were good days except every 6yrs one has to replace the hood.. expensive..

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