Tips & Advice

Type in “auto financing” on any search engine and the list is endless— whether you have good credit or bad credit, someone out there is willing to finance your car for a price. Similarly, if you search for auto insurance companies, you’ll find many that offer you auto insurance coverage— no matter what your driving record is like.
Car dealerships try to simplify the car buying process as much as possible to encourage people with good credit to buy from them. However, even if your credit is less than perfect, some dealerships may still work with you to get the sale.

Keep these things in mind when you’re looking for auto financing for your vehicle:
If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Zero-financing and other offers may not apply to you unless you have excellent credit.

Some car dealerships that arrange financing mark up their rates by 2 or 3%, which can cost you thousands of dollars more to pay back. According to the Consumer Federation of America, marked-up dealer financing affects 1 out of 4 people— and it’s perfectly legal!
How can you get the best deal on auto-related costs, like financing and auto insurance?
Use the Internet to research prices, which will help you negotiate the best price. Web sites like Yahoo! Autos and The Motley Fool can help you figure out vehicle prices and financing.

Never be afraid to leave a dealership or seek another bank or credit union to handle your financing. All of these companies compete for your business— so you should never feel pressured to buy.

Obtain a copy of your credit report that includes your credit score and use it as a bargaining tool.

Apply these same principles when you shop for auto insurance. Shop around and always look for the best deal. (You can't put a price on loyalty!)
Esurance makes it easy to shop around. Find out if you save with us when you get your auto insurance quote today!

In addition to great rates and reliable coverage, Esurance has tools and information to help you understand your auto insurance coverage better. Use the Esurance FAQ for answers to your auto insurance-related questions. Get a customized report from our interactive, auto insurance planning tool, the Esurance Coverage Counselor to see which levels of coverage suit you best.

2008 Honda Accord Sedan Summary

The 2008 Accord Sedan is a 4-door, 5-passenger family sedan, available in 13 trims, ranging from the LX 5-Spd MT to the EX-L V-6 5-Spd AT w/ Navigation System.

Upon introduction, the LX 5-Spd MT is equipped with a standard 2.4-liter, I4, 177-horsepower engine that achieves 22-mpg in the city and 31-mpg on the highway. A 5-speed manual transmission with overdrive is standard. The EX-L V-6 5-Spd AT w/ Navigation System is equipped with a standard 3.5-liter, V6, 268-horsepower engine that achieves 19-mpg in the city and 29-mpg on the highway. A 5-speed automatic transmission with overdrive is standard.

The 2008 Accord Sedan is redesigned for 2008.

Car insurance (European Union)

You can insure your car with any insurance company licensed to issue such policies in any Member State of the European Union. This entitlement applies both to compulsory insurance policies in the field of civil liability and to optional insurance policies covering supplementary risks (such as theft, fire, etc.).
If you wish to take out an insurance policy for compulsory civil liability with an insurance company licensed and established in another Member State, the company is entitled to sell you such a policy only if it satisfies the following conditions:
• The insurance supervisory authority of the Member State where the vehicle is registered has been notified by the supervisory authority of the company’s home Member State that the company intends to underwrite motor insurance risks in that Member State;
• it must be a member of the national motor vehicle insurers' bureau and the guarantee fund of the Member State in which your vehicle is registered;
• if it does not have an establishment in the Member State in which your vehicle is registered, the company must have designated a representative authorised to settle claims in that Member State.
You are obliged by law to take out insurance against personal injury and material damage caused by your vehicle. This guarantee covers all the passengers in your vehicle including the members of your family. The green card or the insurance certificate issued by your insurer on conclusion of the contract is taken as proof that you have fulfilled your insurance obligations with regard to civil liability for motor vehicles.
This insurance covers your civil liability throughout the European Union, no matter where the accident happens. Thus under no circumstances may you be required to pay a supplement for this mandatory civil liability insurance when you travel to other countries of the European Union. When you travel to another Member State, presentation of your green card or your insurance certificate is not normally necessary because the licence plates of your car are taken as evidence that you have taken out compulsory civil liability insurance in your Member State.
But if you also want insurance against other hazards, such as fire or theft abroad, the insurance undertaking is entitled to demand a supplement if the cover under the insurance contract is limited to the Member State in which you reside.
In the event of a car accident caused by you, your green card or your insurance certificate constitutes proof that you have compulsory "civil liability" insurance allowing the victims to obtain compensation. All you have to do is to notify the accident to your insurance company.
The injured party will contact his own insurer who will in turn contact the national motor vehicle insurance bureau; this bureau will look after the formalities between the two insurance companies and the injured party. The same system also operates in some other countries which are not members of the European Economic Area (Switzerland, Hungary, etc.).
In the event of a car accident in another Member State for which you are not liable you are entitled to compensation in accordance with the rules in force in that Member State or in your country of residence if the level of compensation is higher in the latter. These rules still differ from one Member State to another but you have minimum coverage of 350 000 Euros for personal injury and 100 000 Euros for material damage. However, the total amount of cover may be limited in some Member States when there are several victims involved in a single claim.
If the accident is caused by an uninsured or unidentifiable car, you are entitled under Community law to compensation from the motor vehicle guarantee fund of the Member State in which the accident occurred, in accordance with the rules in force in that Member State.
The Fourth Motor Directive has introduced new rules to facilitate and speed up the settlement of claims when an accident takes place outside the victim's Member State of residence (visiting victims). The new rules introduced by the Directive also apply to accidents between two EU parties in any of the 40 or so countries covered by the Green Card system.
This Directive provides for an efficient mechanism for settling claims in respect of such accidents. It aims to facilitate and speed up the settling of claims by allowing victims to directly refer to the insurer of the liable party rather than having to refer to the liable party him or herself. Every insurer is required to nominate a claims representative in every EU Member State, so an accident victim will be able to deal with a representative of the liable insurer in his or her own Member State and language. Under the Directive, Member States are also required to:
• impose sanctions to accelerate compensation, where liable insurers take more than three months to make a reasoned reply to a compensation request;
• establish information centres to deal with motor vehicle insurance issues in general, so as to make it easier for accident victims to find out who insures the liable party;
• establish a compensation body to settle claims in cases where there is no claims representative or where the insurer is too slow to settle. This body will then claim the money back from the compensation body of the Member State where the insurer is established.
• Council Directive 72/166/EEC of 24 April 1972 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles and to enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability (published in the Official Journal, n° L 103 of 2.5.1972, p. 1)
• Council Directive 84/5/EEC of 30 December 1983 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles (published in the Official Journal, n° L 8 of 11.1.1984, p. 17)
• Council Directive 90/232/EEC of 14 May 1990 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles (published in the Official Journal, n° L 129 of 19.5.1990, p. 33)
• Council Directive 73/239/EEC of 24 July 1973 on the co-ordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the taking-up and pursuit of the business of direct insurance other than life insurance (published in the Official Journal, n° L 228 of 16.8.1973, p. 3)
• Council Directive 88/357/EEC of 22 June 1988 on the co-ordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to direct insurance other than life insurance and laying down provisions to facilitate the effective exercise of freedom to provide services and amending Council Directive 73/239/EEC (published in the Official Journal, n° L 172 of 4.7.1988, p. 1)
• Council Directive 90/618/EEC of 8 November 1990 amending, particularly as regards motor vehicle liability insurance, Council Directive 73/239/EEC and Council Directive 88/357/EEC which concern the co-ordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to direct insurance other than life insurance (published in the Official Journal, n° L 330 of 29.11.1990, p.44)
• Council Directive 92/49/EEC of 18 June 1992 on the co-ordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to direct insurance other than life insurance and amending Council Directive 73/239/EEC and Council Directive 88/357/EEC (third non-life insurance Directive - published in the Official Journal n° L 228 of 11.8.1992, p. 1)
• Directive 2000/26/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 May 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles and amending Council Directives 73/239/EEC and 88/357/EEC (fourth motor insurance Directive – published in the Official Journal nÂș L 181, of 20.07.2000, p. 65).

Ex-AIG Chief Greenberg Voted Against AIG Board of Directors Re-Election

Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, the former head of American International Group Inc, said in an interview on Wednesday he voted against the reelection of the company's board because directors have not made sure management met expectations.
"I represent the largest shareholders, and the shareholders own the company, not the board," said Greenberg, 83, in an interview with Reuters at his Park Avenue office.
Greenberg, through companies that he controls and a personal stake, holds about 12 percent of outstanding AIG shares.
"The performance is very, very poor," he added. "We voted against the board because (it) has a responsibility to make sure management meets their responsibility, which is returns to shareholders, and that has not been done."
An AIG spokesman said each director had received a majority of shareholder votes.
Earlier on Wednesday, at AIG's annual meeting, Chairman Robert Willumstad said the giant global insurer's directors stood behind management, including Chief Executive Martin Sullivan, fending off concerns raised by investors frustrated by two quarters of record losses.
Sullivan, who replaced Greenberg as chief executive about three years ago, told investors he realized there was frustration over record losses over the past two quarters, but pledged to turn things around.
Asked in the interview if Sullivan should be replaced, Greenberg said the results spoke for themselves.
"I think a lot of change has to be made," he added. He said he had a number of possible CEO candidates in mind, but declined to name any publicly.
Greenberg said he chose not to attend the meeting, but did follow the event, which was webcast. "It was almost a staged affair... It was a little more comprehensive and substantive in the past," he said.
In a May 11 letter, Greenberg asked AIG to postpone the meeting to give shareholders more time to digest the $7.8 billion loss recorded in the first quarter and what to do about it.
The losses stemmed largely from write-downs of the value of assets linked to subprime investments, but Greenberg said the problems at AIG were wider than problems with these investments.
Greenberg said AIG turned down his request for a delay of the annual meeting, citing too little time, and the high cost of rescheduling. "Given the amount of money that has been lost, that seems ironic," he said.
"I had hoped the board would recognize the unfairness in shareholders not having that (first-quarter) information before (sending in their proxies), or to be able to change their vote, or rescind their vote," Greenberg added.
While a handful of investors at the meeting did ask questions of AIG's board and management, Greenberg said he felt investors would have been more probing if they had had more time. AIG reported its first-quarter loss last Thursday, and held the annual meeting this week, as is customary.
Greenberg said he has not been back to his old work place in recent years, calling the environment "hostile."
AIG and Greenberg have been locked in a legal tussle since he quit, with numerous lawsuits outstanding between the two sides over a range of issues, including the shares held by an entity that Greenberg now controls.
Greenberg said he doesn't currently have plans to sell the AIG holdings that he controls, citing the low price.
AIG shares have fallen 45 percent over the past year. The shares closed 28 cents higher at $39.44 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Greenberg, who ran AIG for nearly four decades, parted ways with the insurer in 2005, after then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer and the SEC accused the company and him of financial misconduct.
After the split, Greenberg retained control of, and now runs, several entities that had been affiliated with AIG, including investment companies Starr International Co Inc and C.V. Starr & Co Inc, that together have assets of about $23.5 billion.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe, Phil Berlowitz)

South Dakota High Court Says Auto Insurance Covers Gun Accident

The South Dakota Supreme Court says an auto insurance policy covers injuries caused when a rifle accidentally fired in a pickup being used to drive deer hunters to the field.
A 14-year-old boy was shot in the ankle November 2001 when a rifle accidentally fired in the back seat of a pickup in Beadle County.
Milbank Insurance Co. argued that the incident was not covered because it was not an auto accident.
In a 3-2 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld a circuit judge's ruling that said Milbank was responsible for covering the boy's injuries.

GAINSCO Reports 1st Quarter 2008 Results

DALLAS, May 15 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- GAINSCO, INC. today announced net income for the first quarter 2008 of $0.2 million, or $0.01 per common share, basic and diluted. This compares to first quarter 2007 net loss of $2.6 million, or $0.10 per common share, basic and diluted.

Gross premiums written during the first quarter 2008 were approximately 11% below gross premiums written in the comparable 2007 period. Gross premiums written by geographic region for the quarters ended March 31, 2008 and March 31, 2007, were as follows:

Three months ended(dollars in millions)March 31,20082007Regions:Southeast (Florida, South Carolina)$30.331.6South Central (Texas)$12.615.8Southwest (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico)$8.510.0West (California)$0.61.1Total$52.058.5

GAAP ratios for the quarters ended March 31, 2008 and March 31, 2007, were as follows:

Three months endedMarch 31,20082007Total Company:C & CAE Ratio (1)74.8%84.0%Expense Ratio (2)(3)25.8%23.2%Combined Ratio(2)100.6%107.2%Nonstandard Personal Auto:C & CAE Ratio (1)74.8%86.7%(1) C & CAE is an abbreviation for Claims and claims adjustment expenses,stated as a percentage of net premiums earned.(2) The Expense Ratio and Combined Ratio do not reflect expenses of theholding company, which include interest expense on the note payableand subordinated debentures.(3) Commissions, change in deferred acquisition costs, underwritingexpenses and operating expenses (insurance subsidiaries only) areoffset by agency revenues and are stated as a percentage of netpremiums earned.

The Company continues to adjust and settle claims associated with its runoff lines. For the first quarter of 2008, the Company did not record material development for claims occurring in prior accident years for runoff lines. During the first quarter 2007, the Company recorded favorable development for claims occurring in prior accident years for runoff lines of $1.4 million.

As regards the Company's nonstandard personal auto business, the Company recorded during the first quarter 2008 unfavorable development for claims occurring in prior accident years of $1.7 million. For the first quarter 2007, the Company recorded unfavorable development for claims occurring in prior accident years for nonstandard personal auto of $6.2 million. In the first quarter 2008, the unfavorable development for prior accident years included approximately $0.3 million related to extra-contractual claims.

As of March 31, 2008, the Company had $67.7 million in net unpaid claims and claims adjustment expenses ("C&CAE") (Unpaid C&CAE of $75.5 million less Ceded unpaid C&CAE of $7.8 million), compared to net unpaid C&CAE at December 31, 2007 of $66.0 million (Unpaid C&CAE of $74.7 million less Ceded unpaid C&CAE of $8.7 million). These amounts include net unpaid C&CAE in respect of the Company's runoff lines of $9.9 million at March 31, 2008, and $10.3 million at December 31, 2007. As of March 31, 2008, the outstanding inventory of runoff claims was 51, compared to 47 at December 31, 2007.

As of March 31, 2008, the Company's Shareholders' equity was $64.6 million, Subordinated debentures were $43.0 million and Note payable was $1.8 million. These compare to Shareholders' equity of $66.0 million, Subordinated debentures of $43.0 million and Note payable of $1.9 million at December 31, 2007.

Per common share amounts for all periods presented have been adjusted for the rights offerings in November 2006 and August 2005, as well as the reverse stock split in November 2005.

GAINSCO, INC. is a Dallas, Texas-based holding company. The Company's nonstandard personal auto insurance products are distributed through independent retail agents in Florida and South Carolina (Southeast Region), Texas (South Central Region) and Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico (Southwest Region), and through an independent managing general agency in California (West Region). Its insurance company subsidiary is MGA Insurance Company, Inc.

Some of the statements made in this release may be forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements relate to future events or future financial performance and may involve known or unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements.

These forward-looking statements reflect current views but are based on assumptions and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other variables which should be considered when making an investment decision, including, (a) operational risks and other challenges associated with rapid growth into new and unfamiliar markets and states, (b) adverse market conditions, including heightened competition, (c) factors considered by A.M. Best in the rating of our insurance subsidiary, and the acceptability of our current rating, or a future rating, to agents and customers, (d) the Company's ability to adjust and settle the remaining claims associated with its runoff business on terms consistent with its estimates and reserves, (e) the adoption or amendment of legislation, uncertainties in the outcome of litigation and adverse trends in litigation and regulation, (f) inherent uncertainty arising from the use of estimates and assumptions in decisions about pricing and reserves, (g) the effects on claims levels or business operations resulting from natural disasters and other adverse weather conditions, (h) the availability of reinsurance and the Company's ability to collect reinsurance recoverables, (i) the availability and cost of capital, which may be required in order to implement the Company's strategies, and (j) limitations on the Company's ability to use net operating loss carryforwards. Please refer to the Company's recent SEC filings, including the Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, for more information regarding factors that could affect the Company's results.

Forward-looking statements are relevant only as of the dates made, and the Company undertakes no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect new information, events or circumstances after the date on which the statement is made. All written or oral forward-looking statements that are made by or are attributable to the Company are expressly qualified in their entirety by this cautionary notice. Actual results may differ significantly from the results discussed in these forward-looking statements.

(The GAINSCO, INC. and Subsidiaries unaudited Consolidated Statements of Operations and Other Information for the quarters ended March 31, 2008 and March 31, 2007 follow.)

GAINSCO, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIESCONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS(In thousands, except per share data)Three months endedMarch 31,20082007Net premiums earned$43,34051,463Net investment income2,1342,422Net realized gains81--Agency revenues2,9853,307Other income, net2652Total revenues48,56657,244Claims & CAE incurred32,41643,226Policy acquisition costs7,1779,424Underwriting and operating expenses7,8556,741Interest expense, net9391,023Income (loss) before Federal income taxes179(3,170)Federal income taxes12(620)Net income (loss)$167(2,550)Income (loss) per common share:Basic$0.01(0.10)Diluted$0.01(0.10)GAINSCO, INC. AND SUBSIDIARIESOTHER INFORMATION(In thousands, except per share data)Three months endedMarch 31,20082007Gross premiums written$51,96658,463GAAP RATIOS:C & CAE Ratio (1)74.8%84.0%Expense Ratio (2)(3)25.8%23.2%Combined Ratio (2)100.6%107.2%(1) C & CAE is an abbreviation for Claims and claims adjustment expenses,stated as a percentage of net premiums earned.(2) The Expense Ratio and Combined Ratio do not reflect expenses of theholding company, which include interest on the note payable andsubordinated debentures.(3) Commissions, change in deferred acquisition costs, underwritingexpenses and operating expenses (insurance subsidiaries only) areoffset by agency revenues and are stated as a percentage of netpremiums earned.


CONTACT: Scott A. Marek, Asst. Vice President-IR, +1-972-629-4493, orRichard M. Buxton, Senior Vice President, +1-972-629-4408, both of GAINSCO,INC., ir@gainsco.com

IllinoisAutoInsurance.Com Helps Find Illinois Auto Insurance Through Local Agents or Online

CHICAGO, May 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Residents now have the option of comparing Illinois auto insurance rates through local agents or online. Through a network of hundreds of agents and carriers, http://www.illinoisautoinsurance.com/ lets visitors choose whether to conduct a rate comparison from multiple agents near them or from companies conducting business online.

The preferred method of purchasing auto insurance varies within consumers. A published survey last year indicated that roughly 30% of the population would not consider purchasing their next policy online due to the technicalities involved in a policy.

Those who enjoy the personalized service of an agent and prefer to speak to a live representative do not have to rely on traditional methods; instead, they can log on and complete one single questionnaire to have local agents complete for their business. This eliminates the searching process and helps consumers make a choice not only on availability, but on offered coverage and competitive premiums.

Reports show that about 60% prefer the convenience of purchasing their next policy online. The utilization of the Internet allows for comparisons to be conducted in a fraction of the time and comes with many additional benefits such as online policy management which includes making premium installments, requesting endorsements and checking policy status online.

Company representative Bill Pirro states, "We understand that Illinois residents have different preferences when it comes to shopping for auto insurance, that's why we offer visitors the option of comparing rates and purchasing a policy through local agents or online."

Shopping for competitive premiums allows consumers to ensure low rates. With record high premiums and a declining economy, consumers are back in the market looking for any savings they can get. Illinois residents can learn more by visiting http://www.illinoisautoinsurance.com/about/ and instantly finding the right insurer regardless of purchasing method preference.


CONTACT: Martha Diaz of http://www.illinoisautoinsurance.com/,+1-909-868-0394

Web site: http://www.illinoisautoinsurance.com/

2008 Buying Guide

Convertible Buying Guide

Buying a convertible used to mean certain compromises had to be made to allow owners to enjoy the sun on their shoulders and the wind in their hair. Specifically, it meant a soft top that allowed a fair amount of noise into the cabin and a fussy tonneau cover that was a nail-buster to button down.

Today, no such sacrifices need be made — most modern soft tops have multiple layers of insulation and are automatically covered when lowered. And retractable hardtops, once available only to wealthy sun-worshippers, are now available in most segments, ranging from affordable sports cars to true four-seaters.

Convertibles Under $25,000
As much a fixture in this segment as Britney Spears is in the tabloids, the Mazda MX-5 Miata does pretty much everything well. Razor-sharp steering and handling, a peppy engine that revs gleefully to redline and a comfortable cockpit with simple controls are once again the successful formula for Mazda's rear-drive two-seater. And now, one even has the option of a retractable hardtop version of the Miata, which weighs a mere 70 pounds more than the soft top. Chief competition for the Miata comes from GM's Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky roadster twins. Though the Solstice and Sky offer sexier styling and more thrust (the latter by way of the turbocharged GXP and Redline versions), they lack the Miata's ultracommunicative connection to the road and high-quality interior.

Should you need room for a couple of kids but still want sports car reflexes in your drop top, consider the Mini Cooper convertible. Unlike the Cooper hatchback, the ragtop version hasn't been redesigned, but it still remains a strong choice. Whether one chooses the supercharged S version or less rapid standard Cooper, there's plenty of fun to be had if you enjoy driving a small, responsive car.

At opposite ends of the short-money drop-top spectrum are the Smart Fortwo cabrio and the Chrysler PT Cruiser. The former is a tiny, two-seat, 40-plus mpg commuter that's 3 feet shorter than a Mini. The latter offers a roomy four-seater cabin within its compact, retro-themed body, seats four and, with the available turbocharged engine, the PT convertible offers decent performance.

Convertibles Under $35,000
The selections in this segment are quite varied. If an old-school muscle car with retro good looks and the option of blazing acceleration appeals to you, then the Ford Mustang family should have something for you. Whether you choose the V6 cruiser or the supercharged V8-powered Shelby GT500, this stable of steeds offers an agreeable balance between handling and ride as well as a lot of performance for the money. Another sporty ragtop to consider is the Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder. Not quite as athletic as the Mustang, the Eclipse (in GT form) is comfortable, quick and handles well, though it is saddled with a rather large turning radius and the backseat is essentially an upholstered package shelf.

If a refined, Euro-bred cruiser is more your thing, there is the sophisticated, neatly tailored Volkswagen Eos. Sporting impeccable fit and finish and a retractable hardtop, the Eos is the best of the hard-top four-seat convertibles in this price range. This Vee-Dub also provides respectable performance and is a decent value provided you go easy on the options. If a hardtop isn't a requirement, Toyota's Camry Solara convertible is similarly refined but has more usable rear seats. The Solara makes no sporty claims at all, instead offering a plush ride, an upscale cabin and tight build quality.

Pontiac's G6 retractable hardtop convertible is another alternative for consumers shopping in this price bracket, but its lack of chassis refinement, dearth of luggage capacity and so-so braking performance make it hard to recommend. It's a similar story with Chrysler's redesigned Sebring convertible, which now offers a retractable hardtop option (in addition to less expensive vinyl and cloth soft-top options). Although the Sebring's cockpit is largely free of turbulence with the top down, sloppy handling dynamics and cut-rate interior materials detract from the experience. To make matters worse, you can hear the folded steel top clattering around in the trunk.

Although it's relatively unchanged since its debut eight years ago, the Honda S2000 is still a desirable, elemental sports car. With its high-winding inline-4, close-coupled two-seat roadster design and performance-focused chassis, the rear-drive S2000 is something of a higher-strung Miata.

Convertibles Under $45,000
Shoppers have a number of enticing choices in this segment. If European design and road manners appeal to you, then Audi's TT two-seater is worth a serious look. More of a comfortable grand touring machine than a back-roads burner, the TT roadster impresses with its artful style, finely crafted cockpit, comfortable ride and competent performance. Available Quattro all-wheel drive makes the TT a good choice for enthusiasts who live in inclement parts of the country.

If, on the other hand, all-out performance is the priority, then the Nissan 350Z roadster won't disappoint. A ripping V6 matched to a firmly sprung, well-balanced and communicative chassis is the foundation of the Z. With its impressive driving dynamics and fuss-free soft top, the 350Z roadster presents a value proposition that's hard to ignore.

Four-place convertibles worth considering include the Volvo C70, which features a retractable hardtop as well as superbly comfortable seats and the latest safety features, including head curtain airbags that deploy from the door sills. Be forewarned that this Volvo is a cruiser and not a sporty drop top, and indeed its performance is somewhat tepid compared to the Saab 9-3. The latter Swede boasts sharper steering and a more lively driving experience, though it lacks its compatriot's metal top and exacting build quality.

Convertibles Under $60,000
Be forewarned: The BMW 3 Series convertible can get uncomfortably pricey once you start checking off option packages. However, even at its lowest trim level — and devoid of options — this is still one of the best four-place convertibles available at any price. A superbly balanced and flex-free chassis, an enthusiastic family of engines, tight build quality and a well-conceived retractable hardtop are the highlights of the latest 3 Series drop top.

Right up there with the BMW is Audi's A4 Cabriolet family, which includes the high-performance S4 and, new for 2008, the ultrahigh-performance RS 4 variants. Like the Bimmers, these Audis offer plenty of performance (though the A4, at least, has a much softer suspension setup), solid build quality and an impeccably trimmed cabin. They also offer the advantage of all-wheel drive, courtesy of Audi's rally-proven Quattro system.

Although typically more expensive, the Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class has won many hearts simply on the basis of its elegant styling. It lacks the Bimmer's retracting hardtop, but the four-seat Benz convertible does offer a solid ride and handling balance, a lineup of powerhouse engines and, of course, the prestige that comes with the three-pointed star.

In the roadster category, there are a number of German choices as well as a bargain-priced American. For a purebred roadster, the Porsche Boxster sets the standard. With an energetic midmounted flat-6, an athletic platform and timeless styling that's a nod to the 550 Spyder of old, the Boxster is a sweet confection for serious enthusiasts. Telepathic steering, strong brakes and superb balance make the Boxster a great companion on a sunny day filled with twisting two-laners.

Nearly equal to the Boxster in driving enjoyment, the BMW Z4 is typically thousands less than its chief rival. If you can take a shine to the questionable styling and go easy on the option packages, the Z4 represents a decent value. Completing the German trio is the Mercedes-Benz SLK. In typical Mercedes fashion, the SLK tends to be a bit pricier than its rivals and though it boasts a solid chassis, it doesn't have quite the same level of communication through the steering wheel. It does, however, sport a retractable hardtop, a claim that neither the Boxster nor Z4 can make.

Presenting so much value we're surprised it's not sold at Wal-Mart is the Chevrolet Corvette. Offering exotic car levels of performance at one-third to one-fourth the price, Chevy's icon also makes for a reasonable daily driver thanks to its comfortable ride, generous luggage capacity and impressive (for a 430-hp V8) fuel-efficiency.

Another consideration for sports car fans is the Lotus Elise. A tightly focused track car that just happens to be street-legal, the Elise adheres to the strictest sports car dictums — light weight, superb balance, a flex-free and communicative chassis and no frills. As much fun as it is, the Elise is best left as a weekend toy, due to its noisy, stiff ride and sparsely outfitted cockpit.

Convertibles Over $60,000
This segment is filled with a number of dream rides. Yet, going into the sixth year of its model cycle, the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class still impresses with its abundance of performance, luxury, styling and daily-driver usability. With the base SL now boasting nearly 400 horsepower and handling ability that belies its near two-ton mass, this grand tourer for two has no problem making time, be it on an interstate or a serpentine section of blacktop. The retractable hardtop transforms the car from coupe to roadster in short order. For those whose need for speed borders on the insane, the range-topping SL65 offers over 600 horsepower under its sleek hood.

For consumers seeking a more focused performance car, the Porsche 911 offers incredible communication between its steering wheel and the road, a frisky flat-6 that makes intoxicating music as it sings its way toward redline, and tidy body dimensions wrapped in classic styling that seems to get better year after year. Yes, many of Porsche's options have ridiculous prices, but when you make one of the most desired sports cars on the planet, you can get away with that.

With its low and sleek two-seat architecture, the Cadillac XLR may appear to be a sports car. But in truth this Corvette-derived luxury roadster is more of a grand touring car. A powerful V8 and a retractable hardtop highlight this Caddy's features list, but unfortunately, in this price segment it is outclassed by more athletic and somewhat more refined rivals. In a similar vein, the Lexus SC 430 is more of a cruiser than a luxury roadster, though it boasts faultless build and materials quality. And while its specs list the Lexus as a four-seater, its rear compartment is best left for the Neiman Marcus bags. In this subcategory of essentially two-seat luxury drop tops, the Jaguar XK line makes a strong argument with its solid chassis and mostly sexy styling, though its multifunction touchscreen control can be an exercise in frustration and some may take issue with the Jag's fishlike nose.

Among high-dollar four-seaters, the BMW 6 Series (and its even speedier M6 sibling) is hard to beat. A pleasing blend of performance and comfort, the 6 Series offers a handsome cabin and handling that's more sports car than four-place GT. But as with the coupe, the 6 Series convertible has some odd styling details and a fussy iDrive multifunction control interface.