Buy/Drive/Burn: Affordable Convertibles From 2005

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This edition of Buy/Drive/Burn was inspired by the comments some of you left on the recent QOTD Crapwagon Garage post on coupes. Though roadsters and convertibles were off limits there, the conversation turned to them wistfully. Don’t worry, convertible week is coming.

In the meantime, we’ve got a ragtop from 2005 to burn. Which one will it be?

About a decade ago, consumers had more choice for fun and affordable ragtop rides than they do today. Even with a strict price limit at $25,000, fun in the sun was yours for the taking. One of today’s contenders even has the engine in the middle.

Mazda Miata LS

It’s the one you knew would be here for sure. 2005 was the final model year for the second generation (NB) Miata, as the simple roadster was replaced by the larger and more rounded NC generation. Always a value leader, both the base and up-level LS trims came with a 1.8-liter inline-four producing 142 horsepower. All those horses go to the rear wheels via the five-speed manual. The LS trim netted buyers a six speaker Bose stereo, cruise control, and leather seats. Yours for $24,903.

Ford Mustang V6 Premium

The odd man out in our affordable trio, the Ford Mustang gives much more size and power than the other entrants, at the expense of fuel economy and additional weight. The fifth generation Mustang was brand new for the 2005 model year, and one can easily recall how the chunky, retro styling was all the rage. The Premium trim was one level up from basic Deluxe, but had the same 4.0 Cologne V6 and five-speed manual transmission. 210 horsepower was found underfoot, and Premium trims gained a power driver seat and upgraded stereo. This pony car asked just $24,815.

Toyota MR2

The roadster generation everyone forgets, the final MR2 showed up for the last time at North American Toyota dealers in 2005. Two different trims were differentiated by the manual transmission offered: standard five-speed on the lower end, or a premium priced six-speed auto-manual. The 1.8-liter engine produced 138 horsepower in the lightweight cabriolet. The five-speed version (today’s choice) did without cruise control, metal trim on the shift knob, or satellite controls on the steering wheel. This last chance MR2-nity (ugh) asked $25,145.

Which one gets the Buy and which one Burns?

[Images: Mazda, Ford, Toyota]