If you hang around sports car fanatics often, you’ll likely have heard the terms convertible, coupe and roadster. While the first two are very popular car body styles, roadsters often go slightly under the radar. But that doesn’t mean that they’re inferior in any way. Join us in this article as we answer the question – What is a roadster?
Roadsters are open-roofed sports cars known for their stylish appearance. You’ve most likely seen these vehicles in many classic Hollywood movies, but you probably had no idea you were looking at a roadster. This article will explain what makes a roadster and how this car type differs from other sporty cars.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What Is A Roadster?
- 2 Roadsters Through History
- 3 Pros & Cons Of A Roadster
- 4 Roadster Vs Coupe
- 5 Popularity Of Roadsters
- 6 For Whom Is A Roadster The Right Choice For Hire Or Purchase?
- 7 Frequently Asked Questions
- 8 Conclusion
What Is A Roadster?
A roadster is an open, two-seat car with a sporty design. These vehicles usually feature sleek and stylish design elements and are known for their impressive performance and emphasis on driving pleasure.
Frank Kurtis built the first ‘true’ roadster (as many would argue), a racing car driven at the 1952 Indianapolis 500.
Roasters often have convertible tops that you can either remove manually or control automatically to enjoy an open-air driving experience. They may have hard or soft roofs. A soft roof made of fabric is a soft top, while a roof made of metal is a hard top.
Some great examples of roadsters include the Porsche Boxster and the Mercedes-Benz SLK. Other notable roadster constructors include Mazda and Pontiac.
The main features that can help you identify a roadster include:
- Sleek design
- Two doors
- Two-seater car
- Open top
- Sporty handling
Confusing Roadsters With Convertibles
Roadsters may get confused with convertibles. In fact, many people tend to use both terms interchangeably when referring to vehicles with open roofs, but they’re somewhat different. ‘Convertible’ is a general name for any passenger car that you can drive with or without a roof. The various models withdraw and store their roofs in various ways. All roadsters are convertible models, but not all convertibles qualify as roadsters.
Learn more about what a convertible is.
Roadsters Through History
The history of the roadster dates back as far as the 1890s and early 1900s, during the early automobile era. At that point, most cars were large and heavy. Then car makers started experimenting to create more agile cars that also prioritised the driving experience.
The roadster can also be linked to car racing history. Auto racing began in 1894, and many of the earliest race cars were purpose-built for speed with minimal or no bodywork. The term roadster was used to describe a style of racing cars competing in the AAA/USAC Championship Cars series. The roadster engine and drive shaft are offset from the centerline of the car, allowing the driver to sit lower in the chassis.
Roadsters were used for championship racing until they became unable to compete with new rear-engined racing cars and modern touring cars.
Pros & Cons Of A Roadster
Like all vehicles, roadsters have their advantages and disadvantages, which helps you know what to expect from these vehicles.
- Driving Pleasure: Only a few vehicles can rival the level of driving pleasure a roadster provides. These vehicles are built to ensure a more engaging driving experience with great handling.
- Design: Roadster bodies are sleek, so expect to turn a few heads when you drive past.
- Open-car seating: The convertible top allows you to enjoy the open air on sunny days, making the driving experience fun.
- Lightweight: Roadsters are lighter than saloons and other large vehicles, which contributes to their performance and handling. It also makes them highly fuel-efficient.
- Sporty performance: The powerful roadster engine and advanced suspensions ensure spirited driving.
Roadsters may also be known as spyders or speedsters when referring to Italian cars.
- Limited Seats: A roadster is a two-seat car, so there’s limited space for passengers.
- Cargo space: Roadsters also have very small boot spaces, which makes them unsuitable if you often have plenty of load.
- Comfort: Roadsters put little emphasis on comfort as their space is limited.
- Cost: Roadsters tend to be extremely expensive cars, and owning them is a prestige. As such, they’re costly to maintain.
Learn about luxury cars like the roadster here.
Roadster Vs Coupe
A coupe is another name that comes to mind if you’re looking for a sporty car, with enticing looks it differs from a roadster in a few ways. Many people think a coupe is just a roadster with a roof, but there are some other not-so-essential differences.
Roadsters have a soft or hardtop folding roof.
Coupes have fixed roofs, but some may have a sunroof for a partially open experience.
Roasters have seats for only two people.
Coupes used to have seats for two, but there are more and more of them with space for two more passengers (aldo tight).
With their superb handling and performance, the driving experience of a roadster is one to relish.
Coupes also prioritise driving experience but are more comfy and spacy.
The roadster layout results in very limited cargo space.
Coupes usually offer more boot space than their counterparts but are still limited compared to other car types.
The highest-selling roadster is the Mazda MX-5, which was introduced in 1989.
Popularity Of Roadsters
The popularity of roadsters has fluctuated over the years. These vehicles were particularly popular in the mid-20th century, with the introduction of many classic models such as the MG MGB and Triumph Spitfire. After a long decline in interest, the roadster market was rejuvenated between 1990 and the early 21st century.
Today, roasters occupy a niche market compared to other mass-produced cars like saloons and SUVs. Electric roadsters like the Tesla Roadster have also brought some attention to the market due to their combination of performance, styling and environmental friendliness. Tesla produced and sold around 2,450 Roadsters between 2008 and 2012.
For Whom Is A Roadster The Right Choice For Hire Or Purchase?
Anyone who wants an open-roof vehicle that offers an exhilarating driving experience should hire or buy a roadster. Nothing beats the feeling of being behind the wheels of a roadster with the wind blowing over your ear. These vehicles are also agile and responsive, making them great for anyone who values vehicle performance.
On the downside, roadsters are only ideal if you live in regions with good weather. Also, since their seating space is limited, these vehicles are only great for individuals or couples without children.
Frequently Asked Questions
A roadster is a sporty car with two doors, two seats, and an open-top. Roadsters are usually very sleek and stylish and their performance on the road is very impressive. The modern roadster is not a racing car by any means, but it offers a spirited driving experience that’s enough to keep the average driver on the edge of their seat.
It is called a roadster because this term was used to refer to a horse suitable for travelling. Later, the definition of the title expanded to include bicycles, tricycles and eventually open-seat cars. Over the years, the term ‘roadster’ has been used to describe various open-top cars with two seats.
Yes, roadsters have a roof, but it is a convertible top, which is retractable. You can either open it manually or control it automatically with a button in the car. Also, this roof may be hard-top or soft-top. The hard-top roofs are made from metal, while the soft-top roofs are made from fabric.
The difference between a roadster and a convertible is that not all convertibles are roadsters, but all roadsters are convertibles. ‘Convertible’ refers to any passenger car that has a retractable roof; meanwhile, a roadster is an open two-seat car with a sporty design. Roadsters prioritise performance and driving experience.
The difference between a roadster and a coupe is that coupes have fixed roofs, while roadsters have retractable roofs. Additionally, roadsters are designed with only two seats and prioritise performance, while coupes sometimes offer seats for up to four people and provide better comfort than roadsters. Also, coupes tend to offer more cargo space than roadsters. However, coupes are still limited in space and comfort compared to other car body types.
So, what is a roadster? A roadster is a two-seat open-roof car that promises pure driving pleasure. The sleek design and high performance of this car make it a top option for anyone looking to hire a vehicle that turns heads when cruising along the highway. There aren’t many better options than a modern roadster if you’re looking for a new car that is fun and has little regard for practicality.