Modern Collectibles: The Tesla Roadster charging into the History Books

The Tesla had much more aggressive styling than its Lotus counterpart.
The Tesla had much more aggressive styling than its Lotus counterpart.

There are two things basic aspects that often determine whether or not a car will be a future classic. It can either be extremely rare, or extremely brilliant. However, very few cars are able to tick both of these boxes. An extremely brilliant car usually sells like crazy, and normally there is a very sensible explanation as to why a rare car was not a sales success. However, when Tesla launched the Roadster in 2008, it was bound for the history books.

Pre Tesla electric vehicles conjured up thoughts of early twentieth century buggies, slices of cheese on wheels or hideous attempts at making cheap transportation more economical. From the dismal Citicar to the hideous GM EV-1, it seemed no manufacture large or small could create a replacement to the trusty petroleum engine. But the Tesla was different, very different. With horsepower ranging from 245 to 288 and weighing in at just over 3000 pounds, Tesla proved to the world that the humble electric motor could perform, and in many cases out perform many gas powered sports cars. But perhaps even more importantly, Tesla managed to transform the mystique around the electric car. EV’s no longer merely a glorified golf cart, but an actual alternative to petroleum. A usable range of 245 miles meant it didn’t require charging ever seven minutes, and at an cost of only $4 per full charge, running costs were very affordable. Recharging times took anywhere from just under 4 to 48 hours depending on voltage and amperage. The Lotus built body and tuned chassis meant the roadster handled very well, and a lightweight resin construction kept weight down and performance high.

Horsepower: 248 (non sport)

Torque: 200 lb-ft (non sport)

Transmission: BorgWarner 1 Speed

0-60: 3.9 Seconds (non sport)

Top Speed: 125 MPH (electronically limited)

Simple and elegant interior styling
Simple and elegant interior styling

However, the Roadster was not perfect. Early development problems led to delays and recalls. Although a two speed transmission was planned, testing proved it to be unreliable and a simpler one speed unit was used. And although incentives and subsidies were available, the Roadster’s base M.S.R.P was over $101,000. Financing was available starting in 2009, but at whopping $1700 per month, the Tesla was not a cheap vehicle.

Over a four year period, Tesla produced just 2500 Roadsters in both sport and standard form meaning they are quite a rare beast. The combination of great performance, good style and a small supply mean however you cut it, the Tesla Roadster will be a classic. If Tesla becomes a giant in the automotive industry, the Roadster will be remembered as its first vehicle. On the contrary, if Tesla goes bust tomorrow, the Roadster will be remembered as its only vehicles. Values for used Roadsters today range anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000 meaning deprecation hasn’t had its full effect yet.

For a old but fun TFL experience, watch the video below!