Driving with the top down

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Summer is here. But like many things in our lives, our way of experiencing summer has been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Air travel to vacation spots has become more challenging, but land travel presents new ways of exploring multiple destinations. For those who can’t go too far, enhancing the driving and riding experience can be sufficient to get a break from our ‘lockdown lives.’

Like eating al fresco in restaurants, traveling by car with the windows open is a safer alternative when riding with family, friends, or staff (personal drivers) from other households. To enhance the riding experience, consider using a top-down car.

The author and her UC Berkeley classmates Geetika Pandya (middle) and Nancy Reyes-Mullins (right), riding a topless Audi A5 Cabriolet in Santa Cruz, California.

I was still living in the United States last summer 2020 when the pandemic had already affected the world. After graduating from UC Berkeley, my classmates and I tried to enjoy our first post-graduation summer the best we could considering the COVID-19 restrictions. One day, my friend and I decided to drive-up to Santa Cruz, California to visit another classmate of ours. We took her silver Audi A5 Cabriolet, a two-door, four-seater convertible. 

Driving the Audi A5 Cabriolet topless through San Francisco gives the author and her friends (Nancy Reyes Mullins and Jacob Mullins) a more special experience even if they reside in the city.

By then, we had already spent a week on vacation in Sonoma, so we were part of the same germ family. Thus, we felt comfortable sharing the same car during the 1.5-hour drive from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. But once we met our friend in Santa Cruz, we were adding a person outside of our “quarantine bubble.” We converted the Audi A5 into a top-down car and toured Santa Cruz together. Driving around with the fresh air and smell of the sea, and seeing the sites up-close without a glass window separating us, made our touring experience more enjoyable.  Our ability to hear the music from the cafés, the sound of the waves, and the rustle of the palm trees against the wind was also enhanced by driving topless. The drive itself was transformed into a multi-sensory experience of sights, sounds, smell, and touch (the wind brushing against our hair and skin). 

Mazda MX-5/Miata

Back in San Francisco, I also felt like it was an extra special experience when we’d drive around the city in my friend’s Audi with the top down even if all the sites were familiar to me (after living in the Bay Area for two years by then). 

Porsche Boxster

The Philippines is just as ideal to have that topless driving experience. The weather is always warm, the risk of rain is low in these summer months, and the breeze gets refreshingly cooler in the late afternoons and evenings.  Arguably, except for the rainy season, the Philippines is suited for driving top-down year round. If you’re driving out of town, going topless is a great way to enjoy the breeze from trees or the mountains. Going up to Baguio where the temperature is cooler and most streets are often lined with aromatic pine trees, is another promising topless experience.

Ford Mustang Convertible

There are several top-down models here in the Philippines to choose from: the Mustang Convertible, the BMW Z4, the Mazda Miata/MX-5, the Porsche 911 Cabriolet and Boxster, the Mini Cooper Cabriolet, and the Rolls-Royce Dawn. 

The Audi A5 Cabriolet

Next time you’re going for a road trip or a short ride to the grocery, consider going topless.  Perhaps, like me, that will make you feel less cooped up amidst all the pandemic lockdowns.

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