The numbers reflect a 10-year trend in which new convertible sales have grown from 17,706 to 98,316 units.
Compared with the rest of Europe, the UK leads the way in sales growth. The latest year-end figures from ACEA, the European automobile makers' trade association, confirm that of 356,555 convertible models sold throughout Western Europe last year, more than a quarter left UK showrooms.
The UK sells roughly three times more convertible cars than either France or Italy. Only Germany, by far the largest European market for new cars, sells more convertibles each year but their 32% growth in the market since 1999 is still smaller than the UK’s 114%.
SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan says: “Some people say that we British must be mad to buy more convertibles than countries like France, Spain and Italy. But there may be a good reason why we sell thousands more than the combined total of these three markets.
“Perhaps driving with the hood down in Milan or Madrid is simply not as appealing as it is in Manchester. Maybe in southern Europe the sun is just too oppressive for anything other than the roof-up with a blast of the air conditioning. A sunny day in Scunthorpe on the other hand is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the best of top-down motoring.”