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.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to our exclusive new offer and SAVE 39% on the shop price, get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £20!

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.

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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

‘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.

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.

Advertisement - Article continues below

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



Tesla Roadster convertible

2020 Tesla Roadster – 250mph and 0-60 in 1.9 seconds

9 Jan 2020
Toyota GT 86 coupe

Toyota GT86 review

7 Apr 2020
Toyota Supra coupe

Toyota GR Supra review

2 Apr 2020

Most Popular


Renault 5 GT Turbo – review, history, prices and specs

Not as wild and bonkers as the mid-engined Turbo, the Renault 5 GT Turbo was still a rather fine hot hatch
1 Apr 2020

BMW M5 E28 v BMW M5 F90: old vs new supersaloon face-off

From the first to the very latest, we take a dive into the history of the supersaloon with the 1985 BMW M5 E28 taking on today's model
4 Apr 2020

£1.5m Bentley Bacalar revealed in six new designs

Bentley’s exclusive Mulliner brand is returning to low-volume manufacturing with the striking Bacalar convertible
3 Apr 2020
Hyundai i30 N

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Nurburgring

We brought the Hyundai i30 Fastback back to its spiritual home in Germany's Eifel mountains, where there is a racing track you might well have heard o…
7 Oct 2019