May 16, 2024 | Kaddy Gibson

10 Of The World’s Greatest Roadsters, Ranked


Timeless Beauties

Roadsters have been beloved by auto enthusiasts since the beginning—after all, the first cars to come off the production lines had no roofs. Even after hardtops became the norm, people never forgot the thrill of driving exposed to the elements, and the roadster eventually carved its own niche in the auto market.

To celebrate these timeless hot rods, we looked at some of the coolest roadster in the world and ranked them from lowest to highest. While style, speed, and performance all matter, their final position is ultimately based on their auction price. Enjoy!

Roadsters-Msn

10. 1990 Mazda MX-5 Miata

While roadsters from British companies like Triumph and MG were all the rage throughout the 1960s and ‘70s, by the late ‘80s they were a blip in the American car market. People wanted something more fun and reliable—and Mazda delivered with the MX-5 Miata.

1990 Mazda MX-5 MiataSsmIntrigue, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

A Stunner

Since its release in 1990, the Miata has been one of the world’s most popular roadsters, in part because it revitalized the demand for roadsters. People instantly fell for its stylish looks and excellent handling with perfect weight distribution.

Black Mazda MX-5 Miata outside.Fabio Aro, Flickr

Beloved By All

More than just looking good, the Miata was also fast enough to hold its own in a race. For many years, it was popular in SCCA racing and it’s still a fan favorite in other forms of racing like autocross. 

In fact, people love it so much that the MX-5 Miata holds the title for the most-raced car in the world.

1990 Mazda Miata, Super Touring UnlimitedRobert Yorde, Flickr

An Affordable Option

The debut model is still desired today, and more affordable than any new cars on the market. For one in pristine condition, you can expect to pay about $20,000 but many sell for half that price.

Mazda MX5 Miata NA, modified and shot with a blue and pink lightJon Hillenbrand, Flickr

9. 1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500

For many years, the Spitfire 1500 was the prime example of a great British roadster. Beneath the hood, it sported a 1,500 cc 4-cylinder engine and with its sharp handling and low position to the ground, driving it felt like zipping around in a go-kart.

Blue 1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500 outside.AlfvanBeem, CC-BY-SA-1.0, Wikimedia Commons

Simple Yet Stylish

Renowned car designer Giovanni Michelotti came up with the style of the Spitfire, giving a curvy, attractive look that was reminiscent of that era’s Ferraris. 

Inside the car was a little less glamorous, with a basic design and cheap materials, but there was no denying how fun it was to drive.

Green 1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500 TCRutger van der Maar, Flickr

A Rare Beauty

If you can find a Spitfire 1500 for sale, it won’t break the bank too much to call it yours. A restoration recently sold on Bring a Trailer for $20,000, but they usually go for quite a bit cheaper than that.

Red Triumph Spitfire 1500 driving outside.AlfvanBeem, Wikimedia Commons

8. 1986 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce

During the roadster decline in the late ‘80s, Alfa Romeo was the only manufacturer that was importing cars, namely the Spider. First hitting the market in 1966, the Spider would later go toe-to-toe with the Miata for sales, before finally ending production in 1994.

1984 Alfa Romeo Spider VeloceRiley, Flickr

Upgraded

The style of the Spider didn’t change much throughout its production run, but later models did get some significant tweaks. The engines were smaller in the early years and the car used a SPICA mechanical fuel injection system. 

The Spider’s engine got an upgrade in the ‘70s, increasing to 2.0-liter, but it’s the 1982 model that still wows us.

Alfa-Romeo Spider 2.0 Veloce MotorKarleHorn, Flickr

State-Of-The-Art Tech

In 1982, Alfa Romeo gave the Spider an upgrade by making Bosch electronic fuel injection the standard. In the 1989 Spider Veloce, this upgraded fuel system is paired with air conditioning, modern electronics, and a cool rear spoiler that you won’t find on other later models of the car.

Silver Alfa Romeo Spider VeloceStribrohorak, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Hard To Find

If you manage to find an Alfa Romeo Spider in good condition, it won’t come cheap. A pristine 1986 version of the car was sold late last year for $32,000.

1974 Alfa Romeo Spider VeloceRex Gray, Flickr

7. 2020 Chevrolet Covette

People instantly fell for the 2020 C8 Corvette when it was first unveiled—with stunning looks and lots of power beneath the hood, it’s easy to see why.

2020 Chevrolet Corvette (C8) Front ViewMustang Joe, Wikimedia Commons

Powerful

The new Corvette featured a powerful 495-horsepower V-8 engine which gave it incredible performance. This was supported by the car’s perfectly balanced handling.

Red Chevrolet Corvette - rear view.WAVYVISUALS, Pexels

The Price Tag 

The base models of the 2020 Corvette went for about $60,000 and there’s been little depreciation on them since. The boosted performance model, the Stingray, will cost a fair bit more, with used ones going for at least $80,000.

Green 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingrayharry_nl, Flickr

6. 1952 Jaguar XK120

In the post-war era, British company Jaguar made some of the best roadsters on the market. 

The XK120 is one of those models. It was meant to be a limited-production release, but brought in more buyers than the company expected—even Clark Gable wanted one and received one of the first models off the line.

Clark Gable's Jaguar XK120Classic Driver

Wicked Fast

At the time, the XK120 was one of the fastest cars on the road. It sported a twin-cam straight-six engine that could hit 120 mph, which was a record in 1948. 

The car had no windows or roof, but the stylish, lightweight body and thrilling ride was enough for buyers.

Dark red 1952 Jaguar XK120, 68 year old automobileJoshua Sanderson Media, Shutterstock

Worth The Price

The XK120 is still a highly coveted roadster. A nice one in good condition will come with a price tag of at least $100,000.

light blue 1951 Jaguar XK120 RoadsterCars Down Under, Flickr

5. 1965 Shelby 427 Cobra

When Carroll Shelby took on a car project, it always resulted in something remarkable. In the early '60s, he stumbled upon the British AC Ace roadster, which had a stunning design and handling but outdated engines. 

So, Shelby gave it a Ford engine and the 427 Cobra was born.

1965 Shelby Cobra 427 SC with Carroll ShelbyAlden Jewell, Flickr

An Instant Hit

The debut of the Shelby Cobra was met with widespread acclaim, despite its limited production run. Fitted with a 289 Ford V-8, these cars were thrillingly fast and enjoyable to drive, despite their minimalist design.

1965 - 427 blue Shelby Cobra engine.Andos_pics, Flickr

Speed Boost

Shelby's later modifications, including the use of coil springs and Ford 427 big-block engines, transformed the Cobra into a high-speed sensation. 

Although fewer than 1,000 Shelby Cobras were manufactured, their legacy endured through a flourishing replica industry.

Silver Shelby Cobra - 1965Huhu Uet, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

Million Dollar Baby

Today, Shelby American offers meticulously crafted replicas with either fiberglass or aluminum bodies. It’ll cost you, but not nearly as much as an original. 

In 2023, an original 427 Cobra sold for $1.4 million, but rarer versions, like the one owned by Carroll himself, can go for upwards of $5 million.

1965 - Shelby 427 Cobraartistmac, Flickr

4. 1958 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster

In 1953, Mercedes-Benz introduced the groundbreaking 300SL, instantly capturing attention with its distinctive gullwing doors. However, it was the 1957 transformation into a roadster that truly showcased the car's greatness, despite the shift receiving less initial fanfare.

Yellow 1958 Mercedes 300Sl RoadsterCalreyn88, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Sold!

The roadster variant of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL faced an uncertain future until an American importer persuaded German management of its potential success in the lucrative U.S. market. 

Upon its arrival, buyers were undeterred by the high price tag, snapping up every available unit.

1958 Mercedes Benz 300Sl RoadsterSicnag, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Speed And Reliability 

Beyond its speed and agility, the 300SL proved to be a practical and reliable choice, boasting innovative features like mechanical direct injection.

Dashboard and white steering wheel and bright red leather interior of classic Mercedes-Benz vintage 1958 300SL silver convertible roadsterexpatpostcards, Shutterstock

A Wise Investment

Investing in a 300SL proved to be as rewarding as driving one. With values consistently rising, these cars have become coveted assets, fetching impressive sums at auctions. In 2023, one sold $1.82 million.

1960 Red Mercedes 300Sl RoadsterSicnag, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

3. 1957 BMW 507

The BMW 507 roadster of the 1950s remains a testament to automotive beauty, despite its lackluster sales performance leading to its premature demise.

Launched in 1955 at the insistence of BMW's American importer, optimism surrounded its potential success—but it fell short of expectations.

Light blue BMW 507pilot_micha, Flickr

Versatile Beauty

Equipped with a new V-8 engine borrowed from a luxury sedan, the 507 boasted a meticulously crafted aluminum body promising both elegance and performance. Its convertible ragtop, which had optional detachable hardtops, added versatility to its allure.

1957 Silver BMW 507Alden Jewell, Flickr

Production Costs

Additionally, the 507's exceptional handling, attributed to its double wishbone suspension and front anti-roll bar, ensured a dynamic driving experience.

Initially targeted at a reasonable retail price of $5,000, production costs ballooned, pushing the final price to $10,500.

Blue Bmw 507, rear viewMatti Blume, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Price Tag

Nowadays, owning a 507 could prove to be a lucrative investment, given the rarity of these classic cars. In 2022, an auction by R.M. Sotheby's in Monaco saw one fetching €2,030,000, or approximately $2.2 million.

Red Bmw 507 Series I RoadsterAlexandre Prevot, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

2. 2020 Pagani Huayra Roadster

Horacio Pagani's journey from Lamborghini to founding his own company, Pagani Automobili, is a testament to his unwavering dedication to innovation. 

Despite facing resistance to his carbon fiber vision at Lamborghini, Pagani forged ahead, crafting his own iconic cars with meticulous attention to detail.

Blue Pagani Huayra Roadster Carbon - frontMrWalkr, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Beautiful Innovation

The Pagani Huayra, Pagani Automobili's second creation, epitomizes the pinnacle of automotive artistry. With a blend of carbon fiber, leather, and premium alloys, each Huayra is a masterpiece both inside and out.

Pagani Huayra (In Explore January 02, 2020)aguswiss1, CC-BY-SA-2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Engine

Powered by bespoke AMG engines, meticulously engineered for the Huayra, these machines deliver up to 750 horsepower, propelling the lightweight car to a top speed of 238 mph. 

2020 Pagani Huayra Roadster M158 EngineMr.choppers, CC-BY-SA-3.0, Wikimedia Commons

A Rare Privilege 

Owning a Huayra is a privilege reserved for the few, given its uniqueness and substantial price tag. With production limited to just a handful of cars annually, these beauties rarely surface at auctions. 

However, a 2018 Huayra Roadster sold by R.M. Sotheby's in 2020 for $2.3 million—that’s probably nothing compared to what it would cost today.

Pagani Huayra BC RoadsterBryan S, Flickr

1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder

Ferrari stands as an icon in the realm of sports cars, renowned for its blend of prestige and performance. Enzo Ferrari's venture into production cars began with limited-edition models. 

By the 1960s, Ferrari had expanded its repertoire to include exotic grand touring cars and roadsters.

Classic luxury roadster Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder SWBArt Konovalov, Shutterstock

The Greatest

One of Ferrari’s best roadsters is the 250 GT California Spyder. Beneath the hood, it’s powered by a 3.0-liter Colombo V-12 engine while the exterior features the exquisite craftsmanship synonymous with the brand.

1960 - 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWB - rear Georg Sander, Flickr

A Rarity 

Despite its modest power output compared to modern counterparts, people couldn’t get enough of the California Spyder's timeless elegance and captivating design by Scaglietti. 

Despite Ferrari's increasing production volumes, the 250 GT SWB California Spyder remains a rare gem—the company only made 106 of these hot rods. 

1960 - 1962 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder California SWBGeorg Sander, Flickr

Unparalleled Charm 

The rarity of the California Spyder has driven its value to unprecedented heights. 

In 2023, a Gooding & Company auction saw a bid of $18 million for one of these prized hot rods, confirming the enduring allure—and investment potential—of the Ferrari California Spyder.

Green Ferrari 250 GT SWB California SpiderCorbon, CC-BY-SA-4.0, Wikimedia Commons


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