Let’s dispense with jingoism right here at the starting line. There aren’t any American entries in this four-seat-droptop derby because there aren’t any that fall into this price category. Okay, almost none. The base MSRP for Ford’s Shelby GT500—$53,575—does slide in below the as-tested ticket for one of our four contestants. But even though it has rear seats, the super-Mustang lacks an automatic-transmission option, whereas our four test cars were all self-shifters with manumatic function.

More significant, we suspect that guys attracted to the Shelby’s overtly outlaw persona and 540 horsepower are unlikely candidates for any of these more sedate rides. Though our four sun dogs are far more sophisticated than the superpony, to someone whose idea of convertible fun involves big longitudinal g-loads every time he tramps on the throttle, the cars in this test look like . . . well, how do you bark in German and Japanese?

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