In the movies and on TV, the young and carefree drive convertibles. In reality, top-down vehicle drivers are older and richer.

That’s according to an Experian Automotive analysis. More than 72% of convertible buyers in the first quarter were north of age 45, it says.

Nearly 19% of convertible buyers had an average household income in excess of $175,000, and about 12% owned a home valued at more than $1 million.

That compares with only about 10% of average new-car buyers having a household income like that, and only 4.4% owning a home in the seven figures.

One explanation for convertible owners skewing well-heeled “could be that more luxury brands tend to have a convertible option,” says Brad Smith, director of Experian Automotive.

About 4.5 million convertibles are in operation is the U.S., comprising 1.8% of the vehicle population, according to the information services company. 

The No.1 convertible model still on the road is the Ford Mustang, followed by the Chrysler Sebring, Mazda Miata/MX-5, BMW 3-Series and Chevrolet Corvette.

“The one longstanding perception of convertible vehicles is that they are driven predominately by consumers who live in sunny, coastal areas,” Smith says.

In that case, perception and reality are in sync. Most convertibles are registered in the warm-weather states of California (13.4%), Florida (9.6%) and Texas (7%).

New York (4.3%) and Illinois (3.9%) round out the top five convertible states.

Top markets are Los Angeles (6.4%), New York City (5.2%), San Francisco (2.9%), Chicago (2.9%) and Atlanta (2.5%).

The city of Glendive in northeast Montana ranked as the market with the lowest number of convertibles in the first quarter covering most of winter, Experian says.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com