In this Market Trends we look at three family droptops; the Mercedes A124, Jaguar XK8 convertible and Volvo C70 convertible…
The final in the trio of Bruno Sacco designed Mercedes-Benz coupes, the two-door C124 became the basis of a factory convertible designated A124, turning an already highly desirable luxury car into one with open-top fancy. Despite a wheelbase 3.3 inches shorter than the volume saloon and the challenges of packaging an electrically folding roof, legroom in the rear is surprisingly generous. It was a considerably expensive car when new and exceeded the already eyebrow-raising premium of the coupe. In 1996, an E220 convertible was around £40,000 and E320 over £50,000 – by this point near enough the price of an E36 AMG in coupe form.
It was inevitable then that used values would remain strong, and even in the dip following the 2007 financial crash where saloon models could be picked up for very little indeed, these convertibles anchored a point about £5000. In years since the whole W124 range has appreciated, and by 2012 the soft-top cars were passing through the region of £6-8k. While the continued rise of values defies some sceptical enthusiasts, today you’ll struggle for a four-cylinder E220 in need of TLC on a £5000 budget, and you’ll need more than double that for the very best. Want a 6-cylinder? Well you’ll need to be patient and ready with around £15,000 when one becomes available. Specification and condition can drive that up to as much as £25,000, beyond which is approaching the even rarer E36 AMG.
With added refinements, even sound-insulation to their lesser relations, and a triple-skin hood lined more extravagantly than even the contemporary SL, the objective enthusiast can be swayed as easily as the subjective classic fan convinced that this is a modern interpretation of older, opulent 220SE drop-tops.
Jaguar XK8 convertible
As svelte open-top cruisers go, Jaguar have long been up on the game. Notably, the convertible versions of the XK8 sold more than double the coupe’s numbers, and so today the market is full of them. In fact, both body styles are easy and cheap to find in the classifieds, but values are certainly edging their way up. The best condition cars are now more regularly pushing beyond £10,000 and can even outprice the lower ends of the XKR market.
Over the past five years, prices have become increasingly volatile and no longer start as low as £3000. Today the range for honest, usable cars spans a rather wide £4000 to £10,000 with only truly exceptional cars pushing beyond that. Later cars with the 6-speed automatic gearboxes and 4.2 V8 engines are increasingly justifying premiums, as well as desirable equipment such as the rare sports suspension.
Looking at the alternatives to the XK8 convertible, those cars that can offer similar levels of comfort, style, and performance, the Jaguar still represents outstanding value. The rise of the XJS market, Mercedes-Benz SL prices, and the DB7 Volante’s late appreciation are bound to have an effect. While prices are on the up, the nature of their use; driven on Sundays, restored through the week, will continue to keep numbers available high and a value ceiling for the foreseeable future.
Volvo C70 convertible
Criticised with little mercy for its scuttle shake and dynamic shortfalls, the Volvo C70 has spent its used-market years languishing in the lowly market territory of its depreciated 850 and S/V70 relatives. But those seeking a comfortable family convertible won’t be as disappointed as led to believe by the road test pessimism. It’s certainly safe, adding roll-over protection bars behind the rear seats and a strengthened windscreen to the usual Volvo safety equipment, and it’s also remarkably comfortable thanks in large part to its cushy, ergonomic seats.
All this for as low as £1000 today, and even the very best examples have difficulty asking the devout Volvo enthusiasts for £5000. A wide choice of specification and condition fits in this range, so the buyer does tend to hold a strong hand. However, even while average values have held very steady over the last 5 years, there have been subtle movements within the C70 market. There has lately been a craze within Volvo circles for the evocative Saffron paintwork available in the late 1990s, and so cars in this desirable shade as well as with the impressive 4×100 watt Dynaudio, Dolby Surround sound system are being snapped up most keenly.
With 480 values markedly up, it’s worth watching how gracefully this swoopy Volvo drop-top will age and potentially appreciate.