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Top droppers: Wealthier, older buyers drive convertible sales

If your image of the average person driving a convertible is a young woman with the wind whipping through her hair as she drives down Highway 1 in California, think again.

Odds are the person driving with the top down is a wealthy baby boomer in their 50s who probably has at least a bachelor's degree, or perhaps even a master's or doctorate.

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That's the conclusion of Experian Automotive, which analyzed the profiles of those who bought convertibles in the first quarter of this year.

There is a substantial difference between convertible buyers and others buying cars, trucks and SUVs that can't drop the roof.

* 50 percent of convertible buyers had at least a bachelor's degree vs. 38 percent for all other autos,

* 19 percent of convertible buyers had annual income above $175,000, while just 11.5 percent of all auto buyers make that much every year,

* 72 percent of convertible buyers were at least 45 years old, which is far higher than the overall market where 60 percent of all vehicles sold go to people 45 or older.

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"Our research shows that convertible buyers also tend to be more affluent than the average new car buyer," said Experian Automotive's Brad Smith. "One explanation for this could be that luxury brands tend to have more convertible options."

Mustang rules convertible sales

Experian also analyzed registration data to determine the most popular convertibles and states where sales are strongest.

Rear view of the 2015 Mustang GT convertible on the top of the Empire State Building, celebrating the Mustang's 50th anniversary during the New York International Auto Show, April 16, 2014.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
Rear view of the 2015 Mustang GT convertible on the top of the Empire State Building, celebrating the Mustang's 50th anniversary during the New York International Auto Show, April 16, 2014.

The Ford Mustang is the most popular convertible in every state in the country, according to Experian.

The three most prevalent models among the 4.5 million convertibles in the U.S. are the Ford Mustang, Chrysler Sebring and Mazda Miata/MX-5.

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One perception about convertibles that still holds true: California is the state with the most convertibles registered.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.

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