Most of us love a good roadster. They are nippy, come with amazing looks, and usually manage to get you plenty of eyeballs on the road. Open the top and the wind in your hair is likely to put you in a great mood, especially if you set off on the open road for a long drive.
And for those who do not want to spend too much on a sports car likely to be driven only on the weekends, there’s always the used car market to get yourself a pre-loved roadster that’s cheap and likely to give you plenty of thrills.
But before you put down for one, remember, not every roadster is worth the price, because while some of them look attractive and look cheap, they can be quite a financial drain in upkeep and maintenance down the line. Also, not every sports car was built to last, right?
So, here go five roadsters to look out for, and five you should not consider at all.
Worth Every Penny: 2008 Porsche Boxster
The 2008 Porsche Boxster was a homage to the classic roadster, comfortable enough for daily use and thrilling enough for the track. The rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive Boxster was an absolute driving delight, and even better was the Boxster S.
The 3.4-liter engine made 295 horses and 251 lb-ft of torque and added to the classic Porsche sound and feel. It made winding roads an absolute pleasure, especially when you drop the top down. Finding a limited edition for less than $30,000 is a breeze.
Stay Away From: 2006-2009 Pontiac Solstice
The Pontiac Solstice was a rushed-into production car that had the potential to be better but never could do much considering its short life span. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine made 177 horses, and while the handling was fairly nimble, the lag in gears was noticeable.
There is almost no cargo space so this was not a car you could take a long trip in, and even the interiors do not inspire comfort. Lowering the manual top took time and needed the driver to step out of the car, so all in all, this was a bit of a disaster.
Worth Every Penny: 2015 BMW Z4
If you like your sports car less basic and more luxurious, the kind that gives you thrills but in a smooth, plush way, then the 2015 BMW Z4 is your kind of roadster. The first thing that will stun you is how roomy the Z4 is from the inside and how reasonably priced it is for the kind of performance it offers.
The power-to-weight ratio makes it an excellent roadster, or should we say speedster. And for less than $30,000, it makes for a great addition to your garage.
Stay Away From: Chrysler TC
The Chrysler TC was the joint effort between two floundering companies, Chrysler and Maserati, and accordingly, turned into a floundering car. There were plenty of other Maserati cars already in the market receiving lukewarm reception, so clearly, the public was in no mood for another one.
Sadly, it came with Chrysler looks and Maserati styling, with enough power but shoddy build quality. And over the years, it’s only gone down the drain. Give this one a wide berth even though it comes dirt cheap.
Worth Every Penny: 2000-2009 Honda S2000
The ‘90s belonged to Japan, in that it made the best of cars that threw the rivals into a tizzy. And one of these was the sunniest roadster ever, the Honda S2000, which came with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for 237 snarly horses.
By 2004, the engine increased in displacement to 2.2-liters, though the output remained the same. Out of the 111,000 examples made, 66,000 sold in the US, so remember, this was a very popular car indeed. And you can get one for less than $30,000, with ease.
Stay Away From: 2002-05 Eleventh-Gen Ford Thunderbird
Now, don’t get us wrong, the eleventh generation of the Ford thunderbird was a thing of undeniable beauty and class. And so good-looking, it was more a Lincoln than a Ford and did not even cost all that much. What it wasn’t, was a sports car, because it wasn’t all that nimble.
Another issue with this car is that the coil-on-plug ignition was erratic, so while it lasted on long on some cars, it failed on others in short periods. While it’s a lovely thing to look at, buying one may involve plenty of fixes, so staying away is a good idea.
Worth Every Penny: 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC
While none of these cost less than $30,000 or so in the used car bazaar, the Mercedes Benz SLC makes for a great roadster, with most of the tech and safety in place, considering its 2017 model year. This is more for weekend trips rather than adventure, and while it makes for a thrilling ride, comfort is kept in mind in a big way.
The cabin is a little dated and the trunk is limited, but there are plenty of innovative features to keep you happy.
Stay Away From: 1954 Chevy Corvette
The Chevy Corvette is a great car indeed, but it has taken it years to become what it is today. When it was launched in 1953, designed by Harley Earl, it had plenty of issues that came with a not-so-great build, a put-together engine, and too high a price.
The 1954 model was no better and while these Corvettes may be hailed as classics in the collector’s world, they are not the right roadster for you. The six-cylinder engine with 155 horsepower apart, these cars are a bit too dated for you to have any fun on the open road.
Worth Every Penny: 2021 Mazda MX-5 Miata
Considering most of the used cars on this list are under $30,000, why not just go for a new Miata for the same price? The Mazda MX-5 Miata starts at $27,825 and is a pure driving pleasure. Yes, it cannot speed up beyond a measure and the other roadsters on this list will leave it behind. But it’s still a joy to drive, period.
Plus, with a new car, you are stress-free about the upkeep and maintenance for some years, and there’s nothing like the smell of a new car, and some fresh paint to keep you grinning from ear to ear. As they say, it’s better to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow.
Stay Away From: 1969-76 Porsche 914
We started with a Porsche, and we are going to end with one, although this was more of a Volkswagen dressed up as a Porsche. There was nothing too bad about the car except that calling it a sports car was a stretch, considering its 80-horsepower engine and not-so-light curb weight.
It did handle well, of course, but remember, a car that was slow in the ‘70s is likely to be a snail today, never mind the Porsche badge. So make sure to look for another Porsche if a posh sportster is what you are looking for.
Sources: CarGurus, ConsumerReports, Hemmings, TrueCar
Emphasizing the thrill of driving, the 2000s pushed the performance of sports cars to whole new heights and produced plenty of icons along the way.
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