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Just looking – Tesla Roadster

Tesla's first attempt at an electric car is still one of its most appealing

Tesla Motors is a near-permanent fixture in automotive news circles, albeit not always for positive reasons.

And while it’s far from a mainstream brand, it’s gone from total obscurity on its 2003 incorporation to being something of a household name in just a decade and a half.

It’s doubtful Tesla would have made such an impact though were it not for the Tesla Roadster – the car that put the Californian company on the map and helped change the perception of electric vehicles from that of glorified golf karts into something to take seriously.

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For some, an electric car’s absence of noise and lack of need to interact with a transmission will always be a turn-off. But on acquaintance with the Tesla Roadster in evo issue 131 there was still something very special about the silent experience.

‘I floor the Tesla’s accelerator pedal and a moment later start laughing out loud’, said John Barker, drag-racing the Roadster against the related Lotus Elise SC. ‘This is absurd, brilliant, outrageous, unique.

‘The thump in the back is fairground-ride sudden, the traction absolute and the push insistent and uninterrupted. There are no gearshifts; the Tesla just keeps going, the tacho needle climbing around the 15,000rpm dial in a steady sweep.’

It’s an experience owners of the Tesla Model S will now be more than familiar with, and to an even greater degree. But back in 2008 it was startling and unique – there were no other volume electric vehicles on the road of note.

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Its weight hampered handling – we measured the car at 1283kg that issue, compared to 914kg for the Elise SC, but buyers have since discovered other advantages to the Roadster experience: not only are running costs low, but Tesla’s policy of continual improvements mean that even now, the company is rolling out an upgrade that allows the car’s range to increase from 245 miles to an impressive 340.

Where does this leave cars like the model on sale with TH Boler Automotive in Banbury, on Classic and Performance Car?

In a fairly good place, it has to be said. This car is chassis number two and the first to have been delivered in the UK. It’s apparently in as-new condition – having covered only 1700 miles.

But it’s also ripe for Tesla’s upgrade, with no apparent disadvantage. It’s at the upper end of pricing for a Roadster – at £58,995 (they were £92,000 new) it’s not far off the price of the new entry-level Tesla Model X – but with no new Roadster yet in sight from Tesla, it will remain a uniquely entertaining proposition for some time to come.

> Find Teslas for sale on Classic and Performance Car

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