Just in time for summer: a roadster appreciation

We like coupes – we are driving enthusiasts, after all, and there’s something to be said about structural rigidity – but that isn’t to say top-down motoring isn’t without its (quite frankly) immense appeal. Which begs the question: if you had to drive without a roof, which car(s) would you most want to do it in? Assume that cost is no object; however, no cars that were produced only as roadsters (so no XKSS, as an example).

Here are a few of our selections, in no particular order. We think roadster driving suggests a different kind of motoring experience – less haste, more stopping and smelling of flowers – so we went more for elegance than for outright performance.

Just lovely, lovely cars, all of them.

Mercedes-Benz W113 (Pagoda):

Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider:

Jaguar XK120:

AC Ace Bristol:

Alfa Giulietta Spider:

And an honorable mention from the ‘real’ world— BMW 325i (E30):

We know, we know— we love these cars (E30s), so we’re biased. And they’re technically not roadsters. Yet one could do a lot worse than driving an E30 ‘vert (as they’re affectionately known) — plus it’s a genuine four-seater so you can bring the whole family. As with all E30s, we think good, unmolested examples will only appreciate and become more desirable with time. Make ours the M-Technic model (I or II).


~ by velofinds on April 10, 2013.

18 Responses to “Just in time for summer: a roadster appreciation”

  1. While I’m slightly partial to Porsche’s Boxster, it will never have the classic elegance and feel, of a Pagoda Benz. Along those same lines, the BMW 507 would fit rather nicely in this beautiful and desirable group.

  2. 1957 356A Carrera Speedster (in Aetna Blau).

  3. Well, do Targas comply?

    If so, let me have a 328GTS with a broken radio (which probably wouldn’t work being a Ferrari, anyway, but just to be sure nobody even asks for anything other than listening to the engine), and a mustache, please.

  4. Whenever I get back on my feet, a 1990-1991 Porsche 944S2 Cabriolet (or maybe a ’92-’95 968) are on my bucket list. I can remember seeing a white-haired gent in his fifties near Cashiers, NC, in the the fall of 1991 waiting to turn at an intersection that I was approaching. Once he turned, he drove past me in his red S2 with the top down, soaking up life…and looking quite content.

    • What a great image, John! When I reach that age, I hope I’m in a position to be that guy.

      • Brennerl, I was quite envious of that fellow and that short snippet of time in that location has always stuck with me. I had a 1966 Dodge Coronet convertible with a 318 cu. in. that wandered all over the blacktop. It was a fun college car and fed the want for something topless. I know many Porsche fans despise the 944-968 but it just hit me as perfect.

        • Disregard the 911 elitists, John. The 944 and 968 are great cars. I might prefer the look of the 944 S2 cabrio slightly over the 968 cabrio, but I know I’d look and feel damn good in either one.

          • 911 elitism is just a little bit silly, isn’t it? The 944 and 968 were held in high regard as driver’s cars – still are – and are easy on the eyes as well. What more is there? Methinks 911 owners who look down on them are compensating for shortcomings in, ahem, other areas..

            • Ditto, brennerl, the 944 S2 cabrio looks a little better to me as well and I do get the need to swing a metaphorically bigger “stick” in competition for power, influence, women, etc. I guess the “911 only” folks felt the front engine cars were heretical to the heritage of Porsche.

              I have a lawyer friend whose ancestors were English that swears by the big Jag coupes and four doors. He was severely unhappy when the X-type was unveiled in the early 2000’s…his face was scrunched up like someone had spiked his high tea with Hai Karate.

              He asked me for advice on purchasing a ride for his hot and much younger second wife (dude was loaded and genius level…I don’t begrudge him at all) as he gathered I was a car nut. They had no kids at home and he drove a pretty XK8 convertible. I recommended the BMW Z3 Coupe which seemed pretty exclusive to me and classy. He just nodded and walked away and didn’t ask me for any more opinions.

              • Interesting…I would have recommended the XK8 convertible for the “hot and much younger second wife” of your loaded lawyer friend of English descent, not for him. I’m sorry, John, but the Z3 coupe is all wrong here. Part of the point of having a “hot and much younger second wife” is ensuring that she is *seen* – therefore, a convertible is required. That convertible should exude class, luxury and look sporting (actual performance not required), so everyone he is showing her off to knows that not only can he get that “hot and much younger second wife,” but he can afford to provide her with nice things. Of course, if she feels good driving and being seen in it, maybe she’ll give him nice things too…but I digress.

  5. I’ve always had a sweet spot for the BMW 503. Not quite as svelte as its more famous sibling, but there’s a certain stateliness to it, and it’s nearly as rare. It also happens to have starred in one of my favorite car movies, too- 1971’s “The Last Run”

    Consider: http://tinyurl.com/bmw503

  6. XK120 is still a cracking looking car.

  7. Cost no object: Alfa Giulietta Spider with a 2.0l Alfa twincam, or a V12 E-Type with a shortened chassis to put the proportions right, a la this video:

    I’ve already made my choice though, as you can see here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/81749070@N07/sets/72157632321362411/

    • Nice Spit! Looks like a lot of work. Good luck! A friend had a purple one, and I always thought them the pinnacle of a Brit roadster. An accompanying Stag and Herald on our drives always made a nice Michelotti open car set…

    • So someone else likes that SWB V12 E-Type! I know some people look down on it for being a bit of a frankencar. Jury still out for me.

  8. My choice would to be, find my old red Austin Healey 3000. Failing finding that one I’d settle for a BRG version.

    I still wonder what was wrong with me for selling that car.

  9. I’ll be cliché and say Series 1 4.2l E-Type in BRG. 🙂 Otherwise a vintage Elan (not that I’d fit) or a TR5 would do nicely.

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