Regardless of what happens in the automotive landscape in the next few decades, Tesla is going to stick in people’s minds as the company that took EVs mainstream and finally made electric cars cool. And as Tesla’s first production model, the original Roadster is deemed a future classic by many, evidenced by the high auction hammer price throughout the world. Ahead of its time when launched, this car represents a rare opportunity to buy the ultimate incarnation of Tesla's first model, a sports car that marked the beginning of an era.
The Tesla Roadster features a hand-made carbon fibre body riding on an aluminium chassis borrowed from the Lotus Elise. The 2,700-pound 2.5 Sport was the final iteration and focused primarily on increased performance. The 375-volt electric motor was hand-wound at the factory and is coupled to a 53kWh Li-ion battery pack. Factory output was 288 horsepower with 295 lb-ft of torque when new, all of which is available nearly instantaneously and resulted in 0 to 60 mph times of 3.7 seconds in period testing.
BACKGROUND AND HISTORY:
Named after Nikola Tesla, a genius who, more than 100 years ago at the dawn of the electric age, invented alternating electrical current, the radio, and the AC motor, among other things, Elon Musk's Tesla Motors has made quite an impact on the automobile industry and the cars of today. Introduced at the 2006 San Francisco Auto Show, the Tesla Roadster was Musk and teams first car, and first highway legal serial all-electric car to use lithium-ion battery cells and the first production all-electric car to travel more than 200 miles per charge. Based on the Lotus Elise, the Tesla Roadster was built at Tesla's Menlo Park plant, as is a high-performance sports car motivated by a completely electric powertrain. The innovative car was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in December of 2006 as the recipient of the magazine's 'Best Inventions 2006 - Transportation Invention award'. The first 100 Tesla Roadsters sold out in less than three weeks, and general production began on March 17, 2008, with just 500 of these first-generation Roadsters to be built. The Tesla Roadster marked the beginning of an era, and remains a very sporty and entertaining car to drive.
When it debuted the Roadster was a pretty ground-breaking vehicle. The base model, the first of four that were produced, featured a range of 244 miles on a full charge and an electric motor that was good for 248 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The chassis and body were based on a Lotus Elise/Exige architecture -- Lotus provided the motorless "gliders" for Tesla.
The debut base model and the upgraded Roadster 1.5, the first of which rolled out in 2008, could make the sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and had a top speed of 125 mph. The base model started at $109,000 USD, an attractive purchase for reasonably well-funded fans of electric cars. Roadster 2.0, the second version of the model, dialed up the power to 248 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque while keeping the range at 244 miles.
The big leap with the first-gen Roadster came with Roadster 2.5 and 2.5 Sport, which served up 288 hp along with a top torque output of 295 lb-ft in the Sport model. These later variants also featured slightly revised styling front and back. By this time the Roadster featured a single-speed BorgWarner transmission, in contrast to the two-speed transmission of the debut model. Zero to 60 mph sprints were down to 3.7 seconds, but the price was up to $128,500 USD for the top 2.5 Sport, which offered improved noise insulation, new seats and a larger 7.0-inch optional touchscreen infotainment system.
Four versions of just the first-generation Roadster makes it sound like there were a lot of these cars out there, but production for all versions combined topped out at around 2,450 examples. The Roadster may have been offered in a lot of flavors over half a decade, but it was a very exclusive car even by the metric of the Model S.
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