Many people think of cars simply as a means of transportation. However, for others, cars are more than just machines and driving is a great source of pleasure. When it comes to the joy of driving, few cars can match the thrill of driving a roadster. Here are 4 classic roadsters that redefined the joy of driving.
Austin-Healey Sprite Mark I
The Mark I Sprite is not just one of the first post-World War II roadsters; it is also one of the most distinct. The headlight arrangement made the Sprite stand out from its roadster contemporaries and lovingly earned it the nickname “Frogeye”. Austin-Healey’s goal was to build a low-cost fun-to-drive car that could bring the joy of driving to the common man. However, the Mark I Sprite did more than just that. It kick-started an era of British roadsters and helped show the world that Great Britain produced the best and most fun to drive two-seat convertibles in the world.
Prior to World War II, Triumph had already built a solid reputation for itself. The company returned just as strong after the War and continued to do what they did best – build roadsters. However, the pinnacle for Triumph was undoubtedly in 1962, with the launch of the Spitfire. Designed by Italian Giovanni Michelloti, the Spitfire took the world by storm thanks to a combination of good looks, a nippy engine and superb handling. In production for almost two decades, the Spitfire is usually regarded as one of the best British classic cars of all time.
The AC Cobra represents the zenith of what can be achieved when British and American engineering come together. Starting life as an AC Ace, the AC Cobra combined the best of both worlds – nimble handling and brute power. The origin of the car is all thanks to American Carol Shelby’s dream of putting a V8 in the light-body AC. Turned down by Chevrolet (who saw the AC Cobra as a potential competitor for the Corvette), Shelby approached Ford, who were more than happy to let him have a couple of monster small-block 4.2L V8s. The end result was a car so good, that people all over America wanted to get their hands on one so that they could take it to the track. In February 1963, Carol Shelby got his revenge as Dave McDonald drove his AC Cobra past the Corvettes to win at the Riverside International Raceway; the Cobra’s first ever race win. The car not only beat the Corvettes, but also trounced Maseratis, Jaguars and Porsches, thus sealing the car’s reputation as a legend.
Alfa Romeo Spider
Alfa Romeo has always been known for building cars that were less machines and more works of art. They weren’t necessarily the most reliable of machines, but classic Alfas had a certain je ne sais quoi that other cars lacked. When Alfa launched the Spider in 1966 at the Geneva Motor Show, the world fell in love with the roadster. It was not the most radical of designs; in fact, Pininfarina had kept the design quite simple. Yet, there was something so elegant and charming in its simplicity that the Spider became an instant hit. After Dustin Hoffman drove the car in The Graduate, the Spider became, and remains till today, one of the most sought after cars in the world.
It is no surprise then that these 4 roadsters are often some of the most expensive and sought after cars at auctions around the world.