Family driving

Can your family live with a convertible?

Convertibles are fun, but can your family handle the size and driving experience?

BMW

Testing convertibles is always great fun, but they sometimes show up when the weather isn't ideal. Here in Maine, our drop-top driving season is fleeting, which can make for a tricky time driving with the top down. This year, however, a 2021 BMW 430i Convertible showed up in early August and I had an entire week of sun to soak up in the open air. I have two children, however, and own a three-row SUV to haul them, their friends, and all the accompanying gear. Squeezing into a convertible is possible and even fun at times, but it got me thinking: Could a convertible be a car we could live with on a daily basis? The answer for me is no, but there's more to the story, and I'm certainly not ruling out a drop-top purchase for my family at some point in the future.

Of course, none of this came as a surprise to me. Last year, I tested the BMW M850i Convertible, and while it was a blast, there was nothing about it that screamed "family car." This BMW is no different, but my younger daughter's shift to a booster seat from a full-size harness car seat made the back-seat fit for both of my kids much easier. Now, it's a little easier to see how the 430i Convertible could be a perfect weekend or summer car for a family that is already set with roomy daily drivers.

Here's how owning a convertible might play out for your family.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible The BMW 430i Convertible is premium, inside and out.BMW

Open-Top Fun – At a Cost

This BMW's price tag lands in the mid-$50,000 range with a few desirable options, which is about right for a premium brand convertible. There are much cheaper options to be had, however, in the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro. Both cars come in a convertible format and can be found for around half the price of the BMW. There are performance and luxury penalties when moving to the less expensive options, but for most people the draw of a convertible is the open-top experience itself. You don't absolutely need screaming performance or a top-notch interior to get the full convertible experience.

Good in Small Doses

My kids are over the moon about riding in a convertible for a while, and then spend the rest of the time complaining about noise, bugs, and wind. Rolling the side windows up helps, and models with a retractable rear windscreen are even better, but the reality is that some kids are not the best at dealing with outside-the-norm car experiences. More often than not, we'd end up driving for half an hour or so with the top down, a few more minutes with the windows up, and then the rest of the time with the top closed. That's no fun in a small car that feels even smaller with the top up.


2021 BMW 430i Convertible If your kids are like mine, the open-top experience comes with some tradeoffs.BMW

Weather Woes

I get that most of you don't live in Maine like I do, and that your spring, summer, and fall months extend longer throughout the year. You're able to enjoy the open-top driving experience more often than those of us in New England, but there will still be times that driving a convertible is less than enjoyable. If you live in Florida, for instance, how often are you going to want to drive with the top down when it's 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity under the bright sun? Even with the wind in your hair, that will get old. Keep this in mind if you're shopping for a convertible.

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A long roof with a V8. What could be better?

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Spend enough time reading car reviews, and you'll probably notice a trend among writers. We all love wagons, despite the fact that almost nobody in the United States buys them anymore. If there's a wagon that could appeal to almost anyone, however, it's this m2003 BMW 540i M Sport with a very special engine swap. It's up for auction right now and could be yours – or mine.

It doesn't get much better for a car nerd than this. The 2003 540i Sport Wagon has had its engine swapped for an S62 4.9-liter V8 and a six-speed manual transmission. For those of you not obsessed with E39 generation 5-Series cars, that's the engine from the M5 of the time. Here, it sounds every bit as raw and powerful as it does in the car it originally came from, and the six-speed manual gearbox makes this an enthusiast's dream.


2003 BMW 540i M Sport Wagon The car has been upgraded with all the right M5 components.Bring a Trailer


Inside, the black leather appears to be in great shape, considering the car's advanced age and mileage, though this wagon is lacking the in-dash navigation system that the M5 carried at the time. It's probably for the best, given that an 18-year-old computer would feel absolutely ancient compared to even the cheapest infotainment system today.

This auction is a little more than halfway through and the current bit is just over $20,000. There's quite a bit of time left for that to climb substantially, but at even twice the price it'd hard to feel cheated if you won.


2003 BMW 540i M Sport Wagon There's no navigation here, but 20 years haven't been kind to the M5's system, anyway.Bring a Trailer

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European sports sedan

Grab this 2000 BMW M5 before someone else does

Classic good looks and a rowdy V8 are the story here.

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We could spend all day bemoaning the rise of car auction sites and their impact on prices, but that won't do any good. The damage has been done. Of course, there are exceptions to the sky-high pricing we typically see on auction sites, and some cars are worth the money. This 2000 BMW M5 is one of them, and its current auction bid of just $15,250 makes us think it could go for a decent price.

The E39 M5 is one of the most legendary and sought-aftersports sedans of all time. Its 4.9-liter V8 produced 394 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque when it was new, which isn't all that crazy by today's standards, but an almost 400-horsepower family car was a big deal at the time. That magical engine is paired with a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive – an enthusiast's dream recipe.


2000 BMW M5 This car is in great shape for its age.Bring a Trailer


Inside, this car's tan leather upholstery looks great, and matches well with its black exterior. The seller has kept mods to a minimum, with just a set of aftermarket headlights on the list of changes. The car's original navigation system and head unit appear to be in place and the entire package is so well preserved it's amazing that the car hasn't drawn more interest so far.

Where this M5 will end up is anybody's guess. These cars are particularly difficult to find in any condition that could be called drivable, so this car's relatively low $15,000 current bid amount is surprising. Commentors on this auction are just as surprised as we are, and are asking where the love has gone for this M5. Of course, someone could swoop in at the last moment and start a bidding war, and with a full day left on the clock there's plenty of time for some action.


2000 BMW M5 The tan leather is nearly perfect.Bring a Trailer

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