Ragtop buyers tend to be educated, affluent

California is tops when it come to driving with the top down. Convertible car buyers are affluent, educated and tend to live in California, especially Southern California, according to Experian Automotive, an industry research company and arm of the giant consumer credit rating agency.

There were 4.5 million convertible vehicles on U.S. roads during the first quarter, making up 1.8 percent of the entire vehicle market.

The top five convertible models on the road during the first quarter of 2014 were the Ford Mustang, Chrysler Sebring, Mazda Miata/MX-5, BMW 3-Series and Chevrolet Corvette, Experian found. The Mustang was the bestselling ragtop in every state.

Experian looked at convertible buyers during the first quarter of this year and found that half hold at least a bachelor’s degree. That compares to only 38.2 percent of other new car buyers.

They also are well off. Nearly 19 percent have an average household income of more than $175,000, and 11.7 percent own a home valued at more than $1 million. Only 10.7 percent of new car buyers are in the same income bracket, and just 4.4 percent have a $1-million home.

Experian found that California accounted for 13.4 percent of the convertibles registered in the first quarter, followed by Florida (9.6 percent), Texas (7 percent), New York (4.3 percent) and Illinois (3.9 percent). The top metropolitan areas for convertible sales were Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta.

“The one long-standing perception of convertible vehicles is that they are driven predominantly by consumers who live in sunny, coastal areas,” said Brad Smith, director for Experian Automotive.

“While that notion certainly rings true, it’s not the only difference. Our research shows that convertible drivers also tend to be more affluent than the average new car buyer. One explanation to this could be that more luxury brands tend to have a convertible option.”

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