Cars We Love: The Tesla Roadster

To own a Tesla Roadster is to invest in the future while saluting the past. Produced for only four years, the Roadster redefined not only the way we think about electric vehicles, but the way we think about supercars in general.

That Elon Musk ultimately called the business model that inspired the Tesla Roadster flawed has little bearing on its virtues as a car. In fact, since its inception, its 1.5, 2.0, and 2.5 updates improved it so much that we this little roadster is a Car We Love. Here’s why:

1) Supercar performance without the supercar price
Sporting a sub-four second 0-60 speed, this electric car gives new meaning to lightning off the line. It’s got 288 horsepower, which may not sound like much, but when you consider that the car give you instant access to its 200 lb-ft of torque, it certainly feels faster than many bigger engines. All that performance comes for a very reasonable price, with secondhand Tesla Roadsters for sale around $70k on Shift.

2) The unique driving experience
Performance aside, the driver experience is simply unique. Strapping into the low, rocket ship-like cockpit and turning the key gives you two unmistakeable tones as the console’s screen floods red. A glowing green “D” button begs to be pushed, allowing you to step on the accelerator in an oddly silent eruption of speed more akin to sailing than driving. A low driver position pairs with a novel center of gravity (thanks to Tesla’s battery configuration) that helps this thing fly through corners like a jet.

Top gear's g force cheeks3) Not just a coupe, but a convertible
Oh yeah, let’s not forget that the Tesla Roadster experience is amplified when you take the top down. Be forewarned, though: the open frame just means everyone will see what you look like with convertible hair and g-force cheeks.

4) A Tesla unlike any other
An elegant mashup of visionary engineering and the Lotus Elise, this car was ahead of its time in many ways. It’s easy to forget that this single-speed roadster was the car that paved the way to the Model S, Model 3, and Model X that simultaneously grace the cover of this month’s Motor Trend magazine. Like a beautiful sore thumb, it’s sure to stand out among the Ferraris and Priuses of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and, in a crowd of Palo Alto Tesla Model S, screams “respect your elders!”

5) Incredible driver benefits
Few drivers enjoy as many fringe benefits as California drivers with an electric vehicle. With California’s CVRP (Clean Vehicle Rebate Program) rebate, a growing network of Tesla and other subsidized charging stations, and HOV lane access extended until 2019, now has never been a better time to go electric.

6) Investment potential
Let’s face it: most cars are not ROI-positive assets. But the Tesla Roadster is not most cars. With a mere 2,700 models ever built, Roadster owners may very well stand to profit in the years to come. With expanding Tesla charging networks, future-proof agility, and tasteful, low-profile lines that won’t go out of style, you can bet that this modern classic will be the apple of many future collectors eyes. As much a financial investment as an emotional one? Time will tell.

For all of these reasons and more, the Tesla Roadster is a Car We Love. If you’re asking yourself “what car should I buy?” and have the cash to shell out for something truly different, consider a Roadster.

Where can I buy a Tesla Roadster?