The thousands of thrilling stretches of asphalt all across the US has made canyon carving a popular hobby among auto enthusiasts. Using their razor-sharp Porsche 911 Turbo coupes and Aston Martin DB9s, these autophiles dive into corners with perfect balance and unparalleled grip, making for lightning-fast and satisfying rides. However, these precise vehicles miss one important element–the open-top experience. Nothing complements a sports car’s beautiful handling quite like the feel of the wind in your hair and the sound of a screaming exhaust nearby. Take any one of these three exhilarating convertibles next time you’re on that favorite technical road.
#1: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
One of GM’s most dynamic and praised vehicles in years, the C7 is an absolute tour-de-force of acceleration and handling. Its LT1 6.2-liter V8 with pushrods develops an impressive 460 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque with the Z51 performance package, and its optional Tremec TR6070 7-speed manual transmission features active rev-matching for flawless out-of-corner acceleration. GM claims that due to the technology engineered into the C7’s aluminum frame, there is virtually no loss of structural integrity over the Stingray coupe, despite the convertible’s soft-top. Add the Z51 pack’s aggressively-tuned stabilizer bars, shocks, and springs and the famous adjustable Magnetic Ride Control, and there’s not a more perfect open-top to throw around on the hairpins.
#2: 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG
No longer the baby of the AMG lineup, the SLK 55 AMG offers pure and exhilarating performance befitting of its badge. Mercedes’ famous 5.5-liter V8 sits underneath the hood, although this time without any forced induction. Output is a healthy 415 horsepower and 398 lb.-ft. of torque, with 0-60 runs happening in around 4.5 seconds, though real-world testing indicates that the sprint is closer to 4 seconds. Nevertheless, the SLK 55’s 7G Tronic AMG transmission with aluminum paddle shifters is a quick-shifting gem, and the vehicle’s dynamics, involving a sports-tuned AMG suspension and active torque vectoring, virtually eliminate body roll. With fully defeatable traction control via Mercedes’ ESP system, the SLK 55 is a true burnout and power slide machine, making it extremely entertaining around the twists.
#3: 1963 Austin-Healey 3000 MKII BJ7
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful sports cars ever produced, the Austin-Healey 3000 makes it on this list for its simplicity and analog nature. Weighing in at just over 2,500 pounds and with a wheelbase of just 92 inches, few other convertibles can be tossed as easily. Its silky-smooth 134-horsepower 2.9-liter straight-six 134 provides enough power to reach a top speed of around 114 mph, and its 4-speed manual transmission with overdrive keeps the driver intimately involved in the experience. With no electronic nannies, power steering, or even servo-assisted braking, the 3000 MKII allows for the purest connection between road and driver, even if its handling and acceleration aren’t up to modern standards. The best part? The Austin-Healey’s low ride height and compact proportions make 40 mph seem like 80 mph, meaning all of that canyon carving won’t come at the cost of a speeding ticket.
Please enjoy this TFLcar.com video review of the 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray…
Frank caught automotive fever early in life. Hailing from a long line of car fanatics, he was able to recite the year and model of every car that passed him by age five. His passion and love for the automobile have only grown since then. When not thinking about cars, he is reading, writing, learning, or dreaming about them. His area of expertise is in the realm of German and Italian cars, of which Porsche is a favorite. Frank currently resides in the heart of NASCAR country in Charlotte, North Carolina, with his family. He enjoys driving exotic cars in the beautiful Carolina weather.