Buy them before we do: second-hand picks for 16 April

Our round-up of BMW M soft-tops begins with the M6 Convertible of 2005- 2010. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, granted. More pertinently, it’s not only expensive to buy but also expensive to own and, if anything goes wrong, too expensive to fix.

That’s why dealers aren’t interested in stocking examples that are very leggy (up to 90,000 miles is their limit, and most prefer no more than 60,000) or cheap (from around £16,000 is where they start). For less expensive examples, you’re looking at private sellers. That’s not necessarily a problem, since you can tell a lot about a car from its owner. Have your chosen M6 expertly inspected and you could stumble across a bargain.

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The M6 is powered by a 5.0-litre V10 producing 500bhp. Apparently, the coupé version was faster than the M5 saloon – or maybe that’s an urban myth. Anyway, most examples send all that oomph to the rear via a gearbox that has a flaky reputation; even some BMW specialists won’t touch an automatic M6 unless they’re totally satisfied the shifter is okay.

That’s why we plumped for an extremely rare manual: a 2007 car with 62,000 miles, which leaves plenty of room for a good warranty.

There’s no mention of its service history, however, which is a pity, because you want to be sure the conrod bearings have enjoyed fresh oil regularly. We would also check the clutch, because it has a habit of slipping from around 50,000 miles. Also on the test drive, we would feel for juddering caused by worn control-arm bushes. If that’s not enough, the suspension uses electronically controlled dampers that cost £600 per corner to replace…

BMW M3 Convertible (E46), £9995: Crumbs: a 343bhp 3.2-litre straight six, manual, soft-top M3 for the price of a new Sandero. This 2003 car has 130,000 miles, but it’s in fine nick and has a good service history. The coupé is more desirable but, come summer, we know which we would prefer.

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Porsche Boxster 2.7 Tiptronic £4950

Max Adams: ‘Warm-weather runaround’ to me screams E46-generation BMW 3 Series, because with one of these you can get a stout six-cylinder engine and room for four people all in one inexpensive package. Plus it will be easy to work on, unlike some cheap mid-engined cars of the period.

Felix Page: BMW badges will equal BMW repair prices, irrespective of age or practicality, and I would wager that my Porsche Boxster’s pleasing provenance means it will be no more hassle to live with on a daily basis. Besides, which would you honestly rather use to nip down to Camber Sands when the sun comes out?

MA: A manual Boxster instead of your automatic example. That’s probably why it’s so cheap. James might as well have my 330Ci, which will be a far better cruiser.

FP: It’s just a shame that it has back seats, so he would have to take the family along for the ride. With my car, he could savour the uninterrupted growl of a flat six and dip into every apex with no fear of making his passengers car sick.

MA: Uninterrupted growl? I didn’t know that Porsche had made a CVT Boxster! I think you’re also overlooking that my 3.0-litre engine is more powerful than your 2.7-litre one.

FP: Ah, but your car is about 300kg heavier, not to mention the fact that precisely nobody will stop to admire it when James parks up to enjoy a 99 with a Flake.

Verdict: A Beemer is for life, not just for the summer. I’ll take the 330Ci.