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If you were a driver or car enthusiast in the early 2000s and 2010s, you probably remember convertible cars like the E89 BMW Z4, R170 Mercedes-Benz SLK, and Cadillac XLR. However, these cars weren’t the typical soft-top roadster application you still see today. No, these cars stowed a multi-piece hardtop to bridge the gap between traditional convertibles and coupes. So, what are the problems with these hardtop convertibles?

Hardtop convertibles are a cool way to enjoy sun-soaked skies, but they’re not without their issues

Whether a four-seater like the F33 BMW 4 Series or a dedicated two-seater like the Mazda MX-5 RF, hardtop convertibles can add a layer of cohesive styling and security to a drop-top. However, as with soft-top models, there are problems with hardtop convertibles.  

  • Troublesome failures
  • Expensive repairs
  • Added weight
  • Hardtop storage often compromises trunk capacity
  • Deteriorating seals may leak water
  • Creaks and rattles as vehicles age

As you might imagine, a folding metal roof with rigid panels can have an off day. That’s right; we’re talking about bothersome failures. Tragically, that could mean a stylish roadster stranded with the top down and rain on the way. Fortunately, online forums and enthusiast pages have unique short-term solves and DIY fixes for faulty rooftops. For instance, some hardtop convertibles allow owners to manually raise the top. However, faulty or broken rooftops can result in pricey repairs. 

A blue 2013 Infiniti G with its hardtop convertible roof up.
A 2013 Infiniti G with the top up | Nissan

Unlike a soft-top roadster, a car with a folding metal roof and supporting hardware will add weight. A lot of weight. As such, drop-top cars with folding roofs will sacrifice fuel economy and performance. Furthermore, the lack of a seamless, single-piece construction roof means less rigidity for convertibles.

Moreover, hardtop convertibles tend to have problems with storage. For instance, the E89 BMW Z4 drops its folding roof panels above the contents of the trunk with a dividing tray to protect the contents. However, with the top down, space is limited and access is at a premium.

Finally, as hardtop convertible sports cars age, their seals can deteriorate and crack. As a result, water can intrude and cause damage or mold. Beyond seals, aging vehicles can develop irritating creaks and noises.