Roadsters distill driving down to its very essence. You buy them to fulfill the fantasy of cruising idyllics road on perfect summer days. And unlike many other automobiles meant to appeal to heart over head, roadsters are readily attainable at a reasonable cost. You don’t need to blow the budget on a pristine Jaguar E-Type or Mercedes 280SL Pagoda to get the feeling of driving with the top down.
Here are five vintage roadsters that look great, drive well and won’t require short-changing into the kids’ or grandkids' college fund. And yes, the 1990s are now far enough in the past to count as "vintage."
Mercedes took a different approach to the roadster with the R107. It was heavy, oozed gravitas — and, in higher specs, packed a big 5.6-liter V8. Mercedes built a lot of them, and built them to last. They were ungodly expensive at the time, which meant most were driven sparingly and well-cared-for. You can still find a solid one for less than $15,000.
The Mazda MX-5 Miata paired the feel of a 1970s British roadster with sublime handling and far better build quality. From its inception, it has been one of the best pure driver’s cars on the market. And it has always been common and affordable for just about everyone in the market for a car (probably as a second car, since it’s anything but practical). You can find a first-generation model enjoy the pop-up headlights for less than $10,000.
Yes, a 1.9-liter four-pot BMW convertible made for a silly Bond car. But you're not James Bond, and the Z3 is a fun, still-quite-good-looking BMW. Later versions have a six-cylinder and a reasonable amount of pop, but you can find one with low mileage for less than $10,000.
Kelley Blue Book has released their best cars to buy awards for 2021. The results may surprise you.
The 986 was the first Porsche Boxster. It saved the company in the late 1990s. It’s not an enthusiast favorite, because it was water-cooled, it was a convertible — and mere mortals could afford it. Nonetheless, it’s a two-door, naturally aspirated flat-six-powered Porsche that you can find for less than $15,000 — or a little more, if you want an absolutely mint one.
The Fiat 124 was an excellent sedan. Fiat decided to make it into a stunning roadster with a body designed by legendary Italian automotive design house Pininfarina, who loved the car so much they tried to keep making it under their own branding after 1981. You can find them between $5,000 and $15,000 today.
If you like the idea but are scared off from a 40-plus-year-old Italian car, the modern remake of the 124 Spider was excellent, and there may still be new ones going for well below MSRP.
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