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Sunday, 04 September 2011


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I like your list, and would like to add a few to it.

Fiat Barchetta. I never owned one, but drove one for Sunday jaunts when its’ owner spent six months abroad and wanted to keep the engine turning over. It never broke down on me, but apparently they were not reliable. http://cars.88000.org/wallpapers/99/Fiat_Barchetta_Spider%2C_2004.jpg

Alfa Spyder, of The Graduate fame and with the metal bumpers not the plastic ones of the last years of production.

Triumph Stags and MGBs were also popular in the UK when I grew up. However, while it breaks your rules as a roadster in almost every way, not being sporty, beautiful and having 3 seats, an open Landrover Series II on the short wheel base chassis is more fun than any of them. I imagine an old Willys jeep is about the same. If I had some wasting money, I’d get one just for the fun of it.

One word..... Morgan motor company....

You know, it's been almost 12 years since I have driven a car, and I ain't missed it at all. Well, at least the daily drive to work and back, I ain't missed.

But reading this, and looking at those machines---by machines I mean things of mechanical precision, a precision that is a beauty in itself---I get awfully tempted to throw some money at one.

A fine machine that when it ultimately breaks down---in my experience on a dark, cold, rainy or snowy night out in the sticks a million miles from nowhere when I have to go to work early the next morning---I can troubleshoot and often repair in a logical, systematic way. I seem to be becoming less able to see any logic in the more modern stuff. Hell, I can't even figure out a menu on an Olympus E-P3.

It isn't so hard to find a decent Miata in Tokyo. A neighbor lady has a nice black one that I have long admired. Unfortunately, I figure one of those Mr. Bean Minis is closer to the price I'd be willing to pay for a car.

I used to love cars. Even spent a year as a body repair apprentice just after high school. Don't know what changed my mind. Must have been the Jeep CJ-5. An old Jeep salesman once told me, "Everyone should own at least one Jeep. To learn their lesson."

Good list. I'm sure there will be lots of pointless discussion over everyone's favorites.

My subjective bit is that the original Series 1 XK-E such as the red 1963 specimen at Wikipedia is the only one deserving to be on such a list. Later models were ... lumpy.

Mike: The BN2 Healy "Hundred" was better looking, IMHO (especially with the adjustable windscreen in the "raked" position). I also liked the XK 120 better than the E, but otherwise a nice list. I would have named the TC; not quite old enough to remember the pre-war version in its salad days;~).

So #7's gonna be a 356 Porsche. Do the right thing and forego the Speedster - we're talking pretty here - and put up the 356B Roadster which sort of splits the difference between the Speedster and the Cabriolet. Oh, I'll take the 250 California over your 275 ur-Fiat please...


Great list and nice shots. Your list is (almost) spot on, especially number 1.
I know this is about how roadsters look, but I can't resist saying something about how they function. They aren't for folks like me who dislike the sun frying their brains, the wind buffeting their ears, and the road noise grinding their teeth. Forgetting those inconveniences after having an MGA for a summer in Panama, I bought an Alfa Spyder in LA. (That added whimsical operation to the downside.) Apparently remembering only the unreliability issue of the Alfa, fifteen years later, I bought a Miata in Georgia. I have stuck to coupes for the last fifteen.
I see you have reserved the number 7 spot. I assume that will be for the boat tail Alfa. After seeing and hearing Benjamin Braddock's make high-speed runs between LA and Berkeley and Palo Alto in 1967 (I saw it in 1968), I vowed that one day I would do the same. And I did, about ten years later. Only then did I realize that Mike Nichols must have left the emergency repair scenes along the highways on the cutting room floor. Still, they were magnificent looking, sounding and, intermittently, driving cars.

Plus One for the Healey 3000 and the Mazda, always wanted both. My first boss in the photo biz told me about owning a 3000 in Chicago in the 60's, and the neighborhood 'wags' used to spin off the knock-off hubs when it was parked on the street. One morning he woke up with a terrible hangover, didn't check his car, and started speeding to the studio, all four wheels came off in an intersection!

The Mazda Miata is the answer for all the poor people, like myself, who owned horrible English roadsters in the 70's, which they could never keep running. Dead dependable, and, since I've rented a few in my day, the absolute same driving experience as my old Triumph TR-4. I remember when they were introduced for 13K, and there were waiting lists, so the car was quickly boosted to 18K, before finally settling at 25K, should have got one at 13K!

You're missing one here tho, the MGA (ovalhood, as we used to call it), the first roadster I ever got a ride in, and something I'd immediately buy again if money was no object. I still remember the high-school kid that was manager of my paper-boy station ('shack' to you), when I was still in grade school, having a run down one he was working on, and him giving me a rather fast ride in it! The Days!

You forgot the Sunbeam Tiger.

Can't argue with any of these, except perhaps the Miata - commonly know as a hairdresser's car in the UK. or the car your sister drives....

No TVR's though?

Wish the Healey was a bit higher up the list, and maybe the original AC Cobra instead of the one on steroids.

I thought I had a photo of a road going Jaguar C-Type that I saw in Zurich, but how about the Daimler Dart? Not strictly speaking a roadster, but near as dammit


Most beautiful? Ferrari 275 GTB4 "NART" Spider. Of course when it comes to open two seaters, Italian makes would take first ten out of ten, imo.

All great cars, and I even agree with the order you've put them in. But could you please use a picture of the Series 1 E-type? That's way more beautiful than this Series 3...

Hey Mike when I was in Acadia last weekend, I was standing at Otter point overlook and a guy pulled up in a "Bug eye" sprite (61) I asked how many of them he had so he could keep one running and told me "12"! gotta love British sports cars. I have a friend who once owned 19 MG As to achieve the same result.......

Sorry Mike. Make any camera list you want, but if you are going to make a list of All Time Best Looking Roadsters and not have an Auburn 851 SC at the top of the list I am afraid I have an issue.

Wot ?
No mention of the Mercedes 300SL ?


You philistine ;-)

Can't fault any of your choices. They're all fine-looking automobiles. I myself have a 1972 MGB sitting out in the garage. When it runs well (rarely) it's an absolute hoot to drive. But 15 years of constant maintenance/repairs and not enough driving time has cured me of my interest in British autos. In my next life I'll be Jay Leno so I can own the cars and hire enough mechanics to keep them running.

Nit: Cuts don't work in feeds.

What? No Morgan? No Super Seven? Sigh...

Beautiful cars all. Hey, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, my uncle had a late '60s Morgan; I rode in it once or twice, and it was a blast. Another beautiful roadster.

In college I bought a yellow/orange Fiat 850 Spider (not the more well-known 128 Spider) with a little 850cc 50hp engine. Oh my goodness, what a piece of shit. But when I could keep it from breaking down every couple hundred miles, it drove like a dream. A friend with a big muscle car worth ten times more took it for a spin and came back with a huge grin on her face. When a car is that tiny, it just feels and drives completely differently than bigger cars, no matter how powerful or well built. Sadly it put on half its miles behind a tow truck, and I had to put it out of its misery.

These really are some good looking cars except the Miata. Seriously, when you look over the photos again, it sticks out like a sore thumb. If we need to stay in that price range, I would choose the S2000 or a Z3 over it. What about the Lotus Elise?

Funny, I generally prefer the looks of the coupe counterparts, especially the XKE, some Corvettes (split window), and most definitely the 275 GTB, one of the most gorgeous coupes of all time.

It's all about the Shelby here Mike. Damn look at that thing. Few frills and all business.

Well, I wouldn't agree about the MG. I think this after-war, on the left, is prettier. Lower, more streamlined... prettier. :)

Coincidentally, a friend of a friend brought over from the UK a late-50s MG looking like that. Completely restored, bought very cheaply, something like 4000 pounds. It's so pretty... there's no other word. I'll take a photo when I'm there next and send it to you.

The Alfa-Romeo Guilleta Spider http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alfa_Giulietta_Spider.JPG and one you've already picked, the Healey are my two favorites. The Healey was the first sports car I ever rode in. I was about 12.

Great list even if it lacks my old TR3a.
I think the 275GTS is the most beautiful drophead Ferrari but the 275GTB has a grip on me that is over 40 years old.

But, but, but ... nice list! I've had the pleasure of driving a few of them.

On this day in photography news: George Eastman registered the trademark Kodak on September 4, 1888.

I would add the Alfa Romeo Giuletta Spider of the early 1960s, a roadster I owned and loved when it was running, and, a slight difference of opinion, the first generation Mazda Miatas (1990-97), with the pop-up headlights and spare comforts compared to what Miatas offer now. I am still driving my 97, bought new at the time. The original Miata for me combines the fun of an Alfa-Romeo or a 1963 Lotus Elan (upon which the body of the 1st generation Miata seems at least partially to be based), but unlike any previous roadster I can think of, at least the British and Itanlian ones, almost never spends time in the shop except for routine service. The later Miatas are significantly better cars in a number of ways, especially the most recent ones. However, I love my headlights and won't give them up, silly as it seems.

"Goertz later penned the original Datsun 240Z, another high point of automotive style."

Agreed. I love that car. My uncle had half a dozen Zs, but 'progressed' to Nissan Skylines. I remember his 240Z fondest of all, and regret passing up the opportunity to purchase it when he had to let it go. A nice original-looking 240 is very much on my 'one day, it will be mine' list.

Agree with all those cars, but would like to add a Morgan; whatever the old model with the straight doors (no side curtains) was.

As much as I love old roadsters, they seem to come with a curse - lack of reliability and abundance of discomfort. Loved driving the two that I owned, an early TR3 (I think it was a '57) and a '72 MGB. Great fun to drive full out when they were running (and it was dry)and impossible to get in/out of as one's body aged. Whenever I miss them, I take a nap.

No love for the Alfa Romeo Duetto?

The 1967 Sunbeam Alpine (in British Racing Green, of course) was my favorite. Beautiful car, but not particularly well made. A joy to drive when not in the shop.
Not to be compared to the over-muscled Tiger. The Alpine was refined and nimble, if not particularly fast.

Forwarded the off-topic column to two friends who prefer roadsters. One thought your selection a bit conservative,
however the other friend (a bird no less)
suggested the original three-wheel Morgan
as one you missed. Mind she has an original three wheel Morgan herself, along with two Norton motorcycles and a Norvin. At her age she should slow down
however in a set of leathers she and her female S.O. are dangerous on a track (they race sidecars as a hobby)
They are retired owners of two different automobile dealerships (North American junque). They did suggest
maybe a proper MG GT enclosed coupe might be another vehicle to consider, without the rubber safety bumpers, thank you.

How could you have liked the TF with all its decadence over the TC and TD (was there ever a TE?). The Mg-TF reminded me of an American car series late in its model life, when all the rococo flourishes were brought out to extend sales -- change for the sake of change.

I lusted after a Jag XK-120 (soft top, of course) for several years, until finally a neighbor kid with more free-spending parents got one. That straight six with three SU carburetors was how an engine should look. I was surprised at how messy the Healey 3000 engine compartment looks by comparison. I had two SUs on my Volvo P544, which lasted me a dozen years and nearly 200,000 miles. That was almost a coupe; at least it had just two doors.

I came very close to purchasing a Miata in the late 1990s. But the firm user requirement that I be able to pick up my girlfriend and suitcases at JFK at 6 am turned that noble impulse into a Ford Probe GT, also a fine car.

Thanks for a great OT.


I'm glad to see the Jag in it's rightful place at #1. I didn't even know this car existed until a couple of months ago when I saw one parked at a local upscale market. It is hands down the most beautiful car I've ever seen. Undoubtedly this says more about me than the art, but stumbling across this car in a parking lot affected me more than virtually every exhibit I saw during a day at the Louvre.

PS I'm a little disheartened at the exclusion of the 1955 Porche Spyder. They had long stood as the most striking automobile I'd come across (right up until my run in with the E-type).

One more vote for thr Morgan!


Miss a couple of Lancias, a few Alfas (someone already mentioned the Giulietta Spider, add the 8C etc.), the Porsche Spider, the list is long even if you exclude exotic makes and models such as Maserati (200Si!!!) etc. But there is an unforgivable omission: the Seven!

Middle age crisis pushes me hard now towards one of these: seems the Mazda is the logical choice, although there are two alternate proposals I feel worth looking at: the Fiat Barchetta and the 90's version f the Merc 300SL.

7. [To be added later today —Ed.]

You're canny, Ed.

I have a lot of trouble getting past the details on some of these cars that make them look so dated. I'm not talking about things like the MG TA midget... I'm more thinking of the details on the 507. I can appreciate the proportions and the overall style, but the wheels, windshield, headlamps, etc just look like things the designer would have done differently if cost and manufacturing were better. I.e. I have trouble really appreciating some older cars because they look like they could so obviously be improved. Maybe it's because they were ahead of their time, so they seem held back?

This tends to go away when cars start to get really old, and look completely different than more modern models, a la the MG TA midget, which is just really cool.

On a similar note, anything with pop-up headlights just screams "someone once thought this was a really cool trick" or maybe "Pontiac Fiero". I was very happy to see the Miata and Corvette get rid of them.

Oh... and the Jaguar E-Type is a long hooded, poorly proportioned, almost-nice looking car that looks like it's been lying (a la Pinnochio).

As I read down your list I became increasing concerned about your taste in autos, and then suddenly, TWO "E" types! I can rest easy now. No love for the Triumph TR6 though eh?

Ooh a list!

I'd have a Jag XK140 in there; a random search turned up this one; http://www.flickr.com/photos/ozan_d/245366707/ which I like but comes in soft-top as well.

The MX5/Miata deserves it's place as it's hugely popular for the reasons you stated (the brief for the update was to keep everything pretty much the same - don't try and "improve" it), my modern choice would be any of the Lotus range; http://www.lotuscars.com/en/exigecup260
(the Elise is soft-top, but I'm not sure about the others).
If you want back to basics there is also the Caterham range; http://www.caterham.co.uk/assets/html/showroom.html

I was up at Castle Combe racetrack last week and it was great seeing a lot of classic Ferraris, Porsches etc seriously racing.

Convertables are popular in the UK which sort of reflects how optimistic we are about our weather!

all the best phil

Any British car must be driven during the day only as they are powered by Lucas - The Prince of Darkness.

I like your list, even though none of my personally experienced roadsters made it. My first roadster ride was an MGA, and it made quite an impression! My first new car, upon graduation from MIT, was a Sunbeam Alpine Series V, and my second is a 1971 Fiat 850 Sport Spider which my wife and I purchased shortly after getting married; I refer to it as our "anniversary car", as I always remember the model year of the car! This year we celebrated 40 years of marriage with a drive in our 40 year old Spider... We also have a 1998 Sebring JXi - not a roadster, but a bit more reliable transportation (and I really like its styling); I agree with the comment about manual transmissions being essential to the roadster experience - and I'm not sure that these dual clutch computer shifted boxes are acceptable in a true roadster!!

Well, I'm no expert but I'd add the Ferrari 250TR (aka Testa Rossa) http://www.autoblog.com/2009/08/17/monterey-2009-ferrari-250-tr-gets-airborn-makes-friends-with-t/


(E-type)"Series 1 V6 is purer"
Rarer too: in fact entirely imaginary.

For pure British masochism I don't think anything beats the TVR (and classic look, as well).

But my favorite has always been Porsche - the odd looking 914 and the Boxster. 911 has gone way upscale to the super car/exotic level and no longer qualifies.

And the Boxster's engine is in the RIGHT place!

I'm not into cars particularly, Mike, but from an aesthetic standpoint I have to agree with MJFerron. The Shelby Cobra is all business, like get of my f...ing way.

The Miata body is styled after, and the drive train, even the engine configuration, is modeled after the Lotus Elan, a car I always admired. Those who miff at the Miata styling perhaps are seeking an apology for Mazda's theft to Colin Chapman's memory.

But always having had a beer budget and fine wine aspirations, I have an original 1990 Miata, w/o power steering, which I have kept off NY's salted roads, every single winter. Zero rust on the car, and giant smiles on my face in the springtime when it comes out of hibernation. 'Had a 1960 Alfa Giulietta roadster (not the Veloce, sadly) in college, $400, with rust and a pushed in nose, and a 1968 Fiat 850 Spyder that transformed itself to fairly decent handling once the stock bias ply tires (on 12" steel rims) were dispensed with for Pirelli Cinturato radials. Again, sports cars on the cheap.

Hmmm. Let's see now. I could get back into this historic roadster business in a more meaningful way, or I could save pennies to pursue my Nikon Acquisition Syndrome. As a denizen of this blog, that question was answered some time ago. NAS has cleaned me out, and I shall have to continue to nurse the Miata along for another couple of decades for just the cost of insurance and a few oil changes.

Porsche-Glockler http://www.conceptcarz.com/view/photo/473211,11003/1952-Porsche-Glockler-Roadster_photo.aspx

While it deserves to be better than 7, I nominate it for the open spot.

Can' forget Harold's E type.....

My "late-life-crisis" roadster may seem a bit mundane, Merc SLK230k, but the folding hard-top and white leather interior of mine just melted my heart. Considered MX-5 but there are far more of those around here (Thames Valley, UK) than even the Merc and couldn't bring myself to buy something quite so commonplace, although manual transmission would have been a plus.

In two weeks, with top down (if dry) and boot loaded with cameras and lenses I'll be having a day of total self-indulgence at the Goodwood Revival. Mike, get your E-type and enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

David, Berkshire, UK

>>The Giulietta eventually came to signify everything romantic and sophisticated about Europe to me

To me it's just one of the most beautiful cars ever made ;-)

Not quite a roadster, but I have a soft spot for mid-60s Chevy Corvairs. I think VW Karmann Ghias look cool too. The customized ones (both Corvairs and Karmann Ghias) I saw in my youth here in southern California looked the best. I love the TR-6 too.

"Was there really a V6 E-type?"

Whoops, sorry, brain-slip. Fixed now.


"No love for the Triumph TR6 though eh?"

I know I said I was talking just about looks, but the TR-6 I remember still kind of horrifies me...you see, I lived in an apartment building where a fellow-tenant acquaintance had one, and the amount of time it spent being either non-operable or in the shop or being worked on in the parking lot was truly shocking. I think it spent more time not working that working, literally. I think maybe that glancing experience of it put me off it.


Bordering on a racing car and low volume compared with the "E" type, but I just think there is something so "right" about the looks of the Jaguar "C" type - tops my lottery win list!

Love a roadster - open air motoring is wonderful and a beautiful looking car is a joy. Drove a Triumph Stag for years - handsome car but unreliable and expensive. My '63 MGB sits in the garage waiting to be fixed - blown head gasket. I have "graduated" to the perfect "fat, balding, old man's car" - the Mercedes SL500. Pretty from most front views, reliable, quick and droptop at the push of a button. Bugger of a job getting the golf clubs in though. Just leaving for work and the weather is improving here in Melbourne so down with the top and off with a smile and a cap to protect the balding head.

I won't weigh in on the cars, but there is a photographic tie-in. All cars tend to be tricky to photograph, but roadsters as a class could practically be defined by the impossibility of capturing them in one frame. The top of your list epitomizes this; the two photographs look rather like completely different cars, and neither looks much like the vehical in the round. And to that, ad the further visual quirk that roadsters are the cars which look the most insubstantial from the outside, yet impose themselves most awkwardly from the perspective of the driver... probably there is a connection to the fact that much of their appeal as objects is visual, yet visually ungraspable.

I always wanted an Austin Healey 3000 and found one for sale, but it sold to someone else while I was rounding up cash. A '59 AH Sprite was for sale, and I bought it instead of the "Big Healey". It was my "bimbo on the rebound".
I spent 3 years restoring it and have been driving it for another 15. I couldn't be happier with my choice.

Mike, I was about to chastise you for neglecting the TR-6 but instead see that you've now included it. On graduating from college, I wanted the XK-E but still remember that it was an outlandish $5600. Then I saw the TR-6 at a barely affordable $3600 and was hooked.

True, my own TR-6 -- apparently like all the others -- was somewhat reliability challenged but still a beautiful car. Here's mine:

Was it Billy Crystal who said (something like) "It's better to look good than to be good and (the TR-6) looked marvelous!"

Could we have the option to swap out the MX-5/Miata for the Suzuki Cappuccino? Having driven both I feel the Capp apes the old Spitfires, Midgets and Bs even better than the Mazda, and somehow manages to be both "squee!" cute and genuinely good looking at the same time...


BobRapp, please have a look at my comment last year on Prince Lucas, http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/07/quote.html?cid=6a00df351e888f88340133f2091910970b#comment-6a00df351e888f88340133f2091910970b.

The branches I worked for became a rather successful high reliability supplier of safety systems called TRW Automotive Inc: they're just not British, although lots of the engineers and managers are, including the CEO.

When I was around 7, living in England, I saw a TR6 outside a pub. I instantly fell in love and longed to get one. Some 30 years later, I bought a '72 model in California...rust free and mechanically sound. After moving to Washington State, I started on a ground-up restoration in my single car garage...a 7 year project that, I admit, I at times regretted starting. A few pictures here...


Now almost 40 years since I first laid eyes on a TR6, I still rate it as number 1 in my top 10!


although it isn't that sexy as say Miata and isn't quite a roadster (convertible, actually), but I recall your passion to tight rides and thus - just google for Daihatsu Copen. It won't take long, but should give you some extra thoughts. If you do not limit your search for web-pages and images only, then you'll find some feedback from those brits which - as I believe - you're not indifferent to.


Nice roundup -- but what about this beauty?

KAR 120C

Beauty, eye, beholder and all that - but in my eye the Miata may be one of the best roadsters, but not one of the best-looking ones, at the very least not in the Top-10. I'm not a fan of Porsche myself, but on looks alone, any number of their cars look better than the Mazda.

But yes - beholder and all that :)

When I saw the title I immediately thought to nominate the E-Type but then thought "nah, Mike's list will be full of Corvettes and Camaros and Firebirds". Imagine my pleasant surprise.

I still remember my dad coming home one night circa 1966 in an E-Type coupe (he was the chief mechanic at the local Jag distributor), adding me aged 9 to the parcel shelf at the back and his friend to the passenger seat, heading to the bottom of the local hill and saying "Right, the owner's complaining it'll only do 90 mph in third, should do 110, I reckon we've fixed it, let's see what she'll do!". The road was not straight. Thrilling. So I'm biased!

I'll see your Bugatti type 37A and raise you a Bugatti Model 100 Racer. An airplane. A strange and beautiful airplane.


Watching last week's BBCA Top Gear last week, were you? :)

For some reason, I've liked the Toyota MR-2 Spyder.

"...commonly know as a hairdresser's car in the UK."

Nice to see that homophobia is alive and well in the old country. Oh, I have a red NC.

"Watching last week's BBCA Top Gear last week, were you?"

Yes, but the most recent episode delivered from iTunes featured the three hosts racing silly-looking hatchbacks through an Italian town that had very narrow streets and, apparently, a wall around it, and a moat for all I know. Not much in that show about roadsters. Do I have something to look forward to?


Well, it's not a two seater, so may not qualify as a roadster, but a Citroen DS Decapotable is a thing of beauty.

On the two seater front, a Lancia Aurelia Spyder, or a Maserati Ghibli Spyder, or an Alpine A108 convertible would all be welcome in my garage.

Of the moderns, the Alfa Brera based Spyder isn't too shaby either.

From a sixties Road & Track magazine:
Did you ever take fright in the night
At the sight of an old Mark I Sprite?
Though his eyes are so large
When he's ready to charge
If you toss him a bone, he won't bite.

Dave Kee

"Nice to see that homophobia is alive and well in the old country. Oh, I have a red NC."

I always took it as meaning a girls car - however if you say it implies homophobia, then I apologise. Not on behalf of the UK of course, a sad country I abandoned long ago

I was infected with roadsters, or sports cars as we called them then, when I was in my teens in the '50s, and my aunt returned from a post-war job in Germany with an MG TD. When she was ready to sell it to acquire something she could actually depend on to get her from place to place, I wanted it so badly my teeth itched. But my Dad, the banker, was wiser, and I ended up with a 1952 four-door Plymouth sedan. But, like malaria, that infection presented later in life. First as an MG midget, and later as a '74 Triumph TR6 in 1985. This spring, after 15 years of storage waiting for me to retire and attend to its multiple needs, it is on the road again with spirit and joyfulness. And I am like a 12-year-old the day after Christmas, waking up to remember he has that great new toy.


What about the Lotus 7. I built a Westfield , which is a cheaper and better car than the Lotus/Caterham, and mine was the most fun you could ever have with your clothes on! See mine in bits here http://s1184.photobucket.com/albums/z335/Dooling61/?action=view&current=Westie1.jpg fully built here http://s1184.photobucket.com/albums/z335/Dooling61/?action=view&current=Westie2.jpg and the office here http://s1184.photobucket.com/albums/z335/Dooling61/?action=view&current=Westie3.jpg
Ken Croft, now living in SW France

Where is the 250 California Spyder Ferrari??? It beats the hell out of the otherwise very good list! Anyway - cars make some men become kids again (or they never grew up :) )!

Hi Mike,

I am a longtime reader, but this is my first post. The Roadster List was great except it was missing the true #1 !!!!

The Early 1930's Ford Roadster is THE Classic Roadster. Although it has been tweeked and tuned over the past 80 years, so many cars have used it as a base. To be honest I was a bit shocked that you didnt even have it on the list!

Here is a Pic!



You've left out the best.....MORGAN.

My current favourite would have to be a Lotus - either an Elise or a Seven (perhaps in it's current guise as a Caterham).

Analog Matt,
Are we still concentrating on looks alone? Seems like the '32 V8 Ford is hard to pin down in that respect, since it is, as you say, used as a "base" for many "sports cars" (hots rods).

Plus, I've never been sure just how sporty they actually are...seems to me they are boulevard cruisers and drag racers, but hard to set up for handling. My final problem with them is that I just don't fit in the dang things!

No hate from here, though. Of course they are lots of fun, and have probably provided more automotive fun, of the wrenching variety anyhow, for more people than any other car ever....


'36 black ford coup.....

i owned an '38 ford two door in college .......closest i got

you have a great site.


reformed large format guy.

Take a look at the Morgan Aero

I may have DVR'ed them in a different order, but Jeremy celebrates the E Type in one oft is season's episodes, with a humorous ending.

I like your list, however if you had to have a British roadster that was fun to drive when you weren't fixing it, the obvious choice is a Lotus Elan.

I may have missed it but I can see no mention of the Allard name.
I fell in love with one when I was a youngster and despite having driven and owned many "silly" cars (Cobras, Corvettes, Triumphs, M.G's etc.) I have never driven or owned one - but you did say 'best looking' and for me they represent pure "motor orgasm"

The most fun car I've ever owned & driven... the Fiat X1/9.

Lotus Elan, because it looks exactly like what it is.

Hi Mike

Well we all love them. My brother in law had a Sunbeam Alpine 3.0l and I had all too briefly an autin healy 3000 ... which was fabulous and an MGB which was slow and lovely . But whe I was very young I bought a Triumph spitfire and in Brisitsh Racing Green it was my absolute pride and JOY. It was slow, rusted and had nothing sensible to recommend it ....

To me there are two groups : effectively one group is a two seater sports car .... and an E type would fit in this category. Then there are roadsters which are ridiculous cars. Open , often slower than they should be .... but you are in love from the moment you get in them.

I remember driving down to Dorset from london after a party ending at 3.00am. It was raining , I was so sleepy the only way I could 'safely' drive was to take the roof off and let that rain pour on in. Wonderful days !!!


It is almost unforgivable that you left out the 1955-57 Porsche Speedster. Surely a classic roadster by anyone's definition. Also how about early American roadsters by Auburn, Cord, Dusenberg?

I have decided to forgive you, but only grudgingly.



if you want to be more up to date with Top Gear, use a British IP address and go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/ . It doesn't cost any money either, unlike iTunes. I'm sure the TOP village can give you a range of options for international IPs.

If the BBC licence police ever do catch up with you in Waukesha (they'd need to leave metropolitan London first, which would be a culture shock for them), tell them you are borrowing my licence as I never watch TV online but still have to fork out the tax. It doesn't cost any money either, unlike iTunes.

I saw a TVR Tuscan on the road today but a solid roof version. I'd forgotten about those. Beautiful car, like the AC Shelby Cobra you mention. He went past me like I was standing still. I think it is the first one I ever saw in the metal.

Re: Jeremy Clarkson, Top Gear and XK-E.

Season 17, episode 1. Includes Jeremy drooling over the Eagle Speedster -- an XK-E inspired supercar.

Mike, sorry but everyone hasn't found it (although one comment alluded to it). The 2900 8C Alfa Romeo spider of the 1930's is the obvious choice for top spot (http://www.paulrussell.com/portfolio-retrospective/A-alfa/38_2900/). Few were made and $2-3 MILLION might get you one if an owner is in dire straits. These cars are so renowned that I have seen articles written about them being completely rebuilt from burnt-out wrecks! Yes, the same can be said about the Bugatti and 250 Ferrari, but just look at the Alfa! Also consider that Alfa has a racing history (including this car!) that is not matched by any other marque! (And all you Ferrari guys realize that Enzo got his start running Alfa's racing team!)

I left out the Stutz Bearcat, too. [g]


Eh, and what about the Mercedes 300 SL roadstar?

Ah... Cars and cameras. Easy to relate to.

I've had a few nice cars, and driven a lot more that made good memories. A new TR4A with two beautiful girls in Italy for a couple of weeks (Yes it was tight :-)). A 1970 Datsun 240Z without the emission control stuff, and lots of open roads. A 1990 Miata, and currently a Boxster. I had a GT3, but for everything except the track the Boxster is more fun, and there is no car I'd rather drive.

Speaking of fun: I had a lot of fun in the 60's working on other people's TR's, Alfas and MG's. Rarely did we get to drive or ride in them, but working on other people's cars was fun, as long as I could go home to my ride and just drive away.

As for looks, that is something else. I love the looks of the first XKE's, but I certainly don't want one. Various Ferrari's are gorgeous, but most of them aren't that much fun to drive, unless you get into fairly modern ones. Most British cars other than the XKE are...odd and/or almost pathetically unreliable. The only car that compares with the XKE for looks is the 507, which I don't particularly want either.

Rick in CO,
Those are amazing pictures, I will admit. Yes.


Hi Mike, Picture #1 IS a stingray the waspy waisted ones with the overly long snouts were Mako bodies. While not a roadster my favorite has to be the short lived split-window fastback coupe corvette.I also loved my MGB/GT that I had for way too short a time.

Thanks much, Steve. I made the correction to the post, and added an image link.


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