2008-2011 Tesla Roadster: Should You Buy One, And For How Much?

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2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5

2011 Tesla Roadster 2.5

For the past five years or more, the iconic Tesla Roadster has been the poster child for electric cars.

Produced between 2008 and 2011, the two-seat Tesla Roadster combines the desirability of a luxury sports car with race-car performance, while its massive 53 kilowatt-hour battery pack gives enough power for up to grand-tourer style road-trips.  

Sold in the U.S. until the end of December 2011, most of the Teslas on the roads of the U.S. today are still with their original owners, but with the 2012 Tesla Model S launch imminent, some Tesla owners are selling their Roadster in preparation for their new 7-seat sedan. 

But should you buy a Tesla Roadster used? What are the differences between the various models? And how much should you pay? 


Although there are many early Tesla Roadsters on the road with 1.x generation drivetrains, most of the Tesla Roadsters on sale today are based on the later, much improved 2.x series drivetrain. 

Replacing the original two-speed transmission, the 2.x vehicles combine a single-speed, fixed ratio, rear-wheel drive transmission with a 185 kilowatt, mid-mounted AC induction electric motor to give 200 foot-pounds of torque, and a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds. 

Available as an upgrade, complete with hand-wound motor, power electronics, sports wheels and tires, adjustable suspension and sport badging, the Tesla Roadster Sport cuts the 0-60mph time to 3.7 seconds. 

All Tesla Roadster 2.x. cars benefit from improved cooling and power electronics designed to improve performance in extreme cold or extreme heat over the original 1.x models. 

Styling, Interior

Essentially the same car, the 2.0 and 2.5 variants of the Tesla Roadster look similar from a distance. 

However, the Tesla Roadster 2.5 benefits from an updated interior, redesigned, more comfortable seats, improved sound insulation and an optional 7-inch touchscreen display with rear-view camera. 

There’s also a few subtle changes to body panels, including a redesigned front grille and rear diffuser that echoes the front grille from Tesla’s 2012 Model S.

Easily upgradable

LIke many limited-run, premium cars, Tesla is more than happy to perform upgrades on Roadsters after purchase. 

Since there were continual small changes during production, it also allows owners to upgrade everything from centre consoles, heater knobs, trunk liner, radiator fans and even seat components as the owner desires. 

In fact, Tesla offers both a sport upgrade and a 2.5 upgrade as complete aftermarket add-ons, allowing Tesla Roadster owners  to upgrade their car to Roadster 2.5 -- or even 2.5 Sport specification. 

All at a price, of course.

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