Roadster (automobile)

A roadster (also spider, spyder) is an open two-seat car with emphasis on sporting appearance or character.[1][2] Initially an American term for a two-seat car with no weather protection, usage has spread internationally and has evolved to include two-seat convertibles.

The roadster was also a style of racing car driven in United States Auto Club (USAC) Championship Racing, including the Indianapolis 500, in the 1950s and 1960s. This type of racing car was superseded by rear-engine cars.

1931 Ford Model A 40B Roadster C9954
1931 Ford Model A roadster


1909 Vanderbilt Cup, American roadster
Early roadster competing for the Vanderbilt Cup

The term "roadster" originates in the United States, where it was used in the nineteenth century to describe a horse suitable for travelling.[3][4] By the end of the century the definition had expanded to include bicycles and tricycles.[5] In 1916, the United States Society of Automobile Engineers defined a roadster as: "an open car seating two or three. It may have additional seats on running boards or in rear deck."[6] Due to it having a single row of seats, the main seat for the driver and passenger was usually further back in the chassis than it would have been in a touring car.[4][7](p258) Roadsters usually had a hooded dashboard.[7](p257)

In the United Kingdom, historically the preferred terms were "open two-seater" and "two-seat tourer".[8][9] Since the 1950s, the term "roadster" has also been increasingly used in the United Kingdom.[10][11][12] It is noted that the optional 4-seat variant of the Morgan Roadster would not be technically considered a roadster.


The earliest roadster automobiles had only basic bodies without doors, windshields, or other weather protection. By the 1920s they were appointed similarly to touring cars, with doors, windshields, simple folding tops, and side curtains.[4]

Roadster bodies were offered on automobiles of all sizes and classes, from mass-produced cars like the Ford Model T and the Austin 7 to extremely expensive cars like the Cadillac V-16, the Duesenberg Model J and Bugatti Royale.

Fire Chief's Model T

1926 Ford Model T roadster

1932 Duesenberg J Murphy coupe convertible

1932 Duesenberg J Murphy-bodied roadster

1937 Delahaye 135MS Roadster

1937 Delahaye 135MS roadster


1949 MG TC open two-seater marketed in USA as a roadster

1946 Triumph Roadster

1946 Triumph Roadster designed to appeal to and named for the U.S. market

By the 1970s "roadster" could be applied to any two-seater car of sporting appearance or character.[13] In response to market demand they were manufactured as well-equipped as convertibles[14] with side windows that retracted into the doors. Popular models through the 1960s and 1970s were the Alfa Romeo Spider, MGB and Triumph TR4.

'73 MG MGB Roadster (Hudson)

1973 MGB

The highest selling roadster is the Mazda MX-5, which was introduced in 1989.[15][16][17] The early style of roadster with minimal weather protection is still in production by several low-volume manufacturers and fabricators, including the windowless Morgan Roadster, the doorless Caterham 7 and the bodyless Ariel Atom.

IndyCar roadster layout

Kurtis Indy Roadster Donington pits
1957 Kurtis Indy roadster

The term roadster was used to describe a style of racing cars competing in the AAA/USAC Championship Cars series (the IndyCar equivalents of the time) from 1952 to 1969. The roadster engine and drive shaft are offset from the centerline of the car. This allows the driver to sit lower in the chassis and facilitates a weight offset which is beneficial on oval tracks.[18]

One story of why this type of racing car is referred to as a "roadster" is that a team was preparing a new car for the Indianapolis 500. They had it covered in a corner of their shop. If they were asked about their car they would try and obscure its importance by saying that it was just their (hot rod) "roadster". After the Indianapolis racer was made public, the "roadster" name was still attached to it.

Frank Kurtis built the first roadster to race and entered it in the 1952 Indianapolis 500. It was driven by Bill Vukovich who led for most of the race until a steering failure eliminated him. The Howard Keck owned team with Vukovich driving went on to win the 1953 and 1954 contests with the same car. Bob Sweikert won the 1955 500 in a Kurtis after Vukovich was killed while leading. A. J. Watson,[19] George Salih and Quinn Epperly were other notable roadster constructors. Watson-built roadsters won in 1956, 1959 - 1964 though the 1961 and 1963 winners were actually close copies built from Watson designs. The 1957 and 1958 winner was the same car built by Salih with help by Epperly built with a unique placement of the engine in a 'lay down' mounting so the cylinders were nearly horizontal instead of vertical as traditional design dictated.[20] This gave a slightly lower center of mass and a lower profile.

Roadsters continued to race until the late 1960s, although they became increasingly uncompetitive against the new rear-engined racing cars. The last roadster to complete the full race distance was in 1965, when Gordon Johncock finished fifth in the Wienberger Homes Watson car. The last roadster to make the race was built and driven by Jim Hurtubise in the 1968 race and dropped out early.[21]

Some pavement midgets roadsters were built and raced into the early 1970s but never were dominant.[22]

See also

  • Barchetta, a related two-seater body style designed primarily for racing
  • Convertible, the general term to describe vehicles with retractable roofs and retractable side windows
  • Roadster utility
  • Tonneau cover, a protective cover for the seats in an open car


  1. ^ Pollard, Elaine, ed. (1994). "R". The Oxford Paperback Dictionary (fourth ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 692. ISBN 0-19-280012-4. roadster noun an open car without rear seats.
  2. ^ Georgano, G. N., ed. (1971). "Glossary". Encyclopedia of American Automobiles. New York, NY USA: E. P. Dutton. pp. 215–217. ISBN 0-525-097929. LCCN 79147885. Roadster. A two-passenger open car of sporting appearance.
  3. ^ Webster, Noah; Goodrich, Chauncey A.; Porter, Noah (1861). "Roadster". An American Dictionary of the English Language. Springfield, MA US: G. and C. Merriam. p. 959.
  4. ^ a b c Haajanen, Lennart W. (2003). Illustrated Dictionary of Automobile Body Styles. Illustrations by Bertil Nydén; foreword by Karl Ludvigsen. Jefferson, NC USA: McFarland. p. 113. ISBN 0-7864-1276-3. LCCN 2002014546.
  5. ^ Porter, Noah, ed. (1898). "Roadster". Webster's International Dictionary of the English Language. Springfield, MA US: G. and C. Merriam. p. 1246. LCCN 98001281.
  6. ^ Society of Automobile Engineers, Nomenclature Division (August 20, 1916). "What's What in Automobile Bodies Officially Determined" (pdf). The New York Times. New York, NY USA. Nomenclature Division, Society of Automobile Engineers. ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. Retrieved 2012-05-31. Here it is, with other body types and distinctions, officially determined recently by the Nomenclature Division of the Society of Automobile Engineers:
  7. ^ a b Clough, Albert L. (1913). A dictionary of automobile terms. The Horseless Age Company. LCCN 13003001. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  8. ^ Culshaw, David; Horrobin, Peter (2013) [1974]. "Appendix 5 - Coachwork styles". The complete catalogue of British Cars 1895 - 1975 (e-book ed.). Poundbury, Dorchester, UK: Veloce Publishing. pp. 480–484. ISBN 978-1-845845-83-4.
  9. ^ "The Used Car Problem". Garage Organization and Management. Taylor & Francis. pp. 259–260. Retrieved 2012-10-26. (for the purposes of this British publication) "In order to avoid confusion, however, the universally understood terms 'Tourer', 'Coupé', 'Saloon', 'Limousine', etc., have been adopted, adding the American term 'Roadster' as the two-seater edition of the tourer."
  10. ^ "Short History of the MGA & Magnette". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  11. ^ "MGA facts, figures and colours".
  12. ^ "MG MGA ROADSTER For Sale - Car and Classic".
  13. ^ Georgano 1971, p. 216.
  14. ^ Culshaw & Horrobin 2013, p. 482.
  15. ^ "Mazda Produces 900,000th MX-5, Recognized as World's Best-Selling Sports Car". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  16. ^ "History of the Mazda MX-5 - picture special". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  17. ^ "25 Snapshots of the Mazda Miata Through History". Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  18. ^ "The 10 greatest Indy roadsters in history". Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  19. ^ "(USAC) Championship Indy Car Roadster". Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  20. ^ "Brickyard Classic: 1958 Indy 500 – The Salih and Epperly "Laydown" Roadsters". Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Robin Miller". Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  22. ^ "The Don Edmunds Fully Independent Suspended Roadster Midget". Retrieved 14 April 2019.

Caravelle may be a reference to:

Caravelle, the French marketing name for the typeface Folio

The Caravelle peninsula of the French Caribbean island of Martinique

Sud Aviation Caravelle, the short/medium-range jet airliner, produced by Sud Aviation

Sud Aviation Super-Caravelle, the design for a supersonic transport from Sud Aviation

Volkswagen Caravelle (disambiguation), minibuses/vans produced by Volkswagen

Renault Caravelle, the roadster automobile produced by Renault

Plymouth Caravelle, a sedan made by Chrysler Corporation from 1983 to 1988

Plymouth Caravelle Salon, a rebadged Dodge Diplomat sold in Canada

An alternative spelling of caravel, a 15th-century sailing ship

SS Caravelle, a Danish cargo ship in service 1938-40

Caravelle Hotel, Ho Chih Minh City

Caravelle Manifesto, 1960 Vietnamese political document presented in that hotel

The Caravelles, British duo girl band

La Caravelle, restaurant and jazz venue in Marseille, France

La Caravelle (New York), restaurant in New York City, specialising in French cuisine


A convertible or cabriolet () is a passenger car that can be driven with or without a roof in place. The methods of retracting and storing the roof vary between models.

A convertible allows an open-air driving experience, with the ability to provide a roof when required. Potential drawbacks of convertibles are reduced structural rigidity (requiring significant engineering and modification to counteract the effects of removing a car's roof) and cargo space.The majority of convertible roofs are a folding construction made from cloth. Other types of convertible roofs include retractable hardtops (often constructed from metal or plastic) and detachable hardtops (where a metal or plastic roof is manually removed and often stored in the trunk).

LaSalle (automobile)

LaSalle was an American brand of luxury automobiles manufactured and marketed by General Motors' Cadillac division from 1927 through 1940. Alfred P. Sloan developed the concept for LaSalle and certain other General Motors' marques in order to fill pricing gaps he perceived in the General Motors product portfolio. Sloan created LaSalle as a companion marque for Cadillac. LaSalle automobiles were manufactured by Cadillac, but were priced lower than Cadillac-branded automobiles and were marketed as the second-most prestigious marque in the General Motors portfolio.

Like Cadillac, the LaSalle brand name was based on that of a French explorer, René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle.

Lambert (automobile)

The Lambert automobile and Lambert truck were built by the Lambert Automobile Company as an American vehicle from 1905 through 1916. The Lambert automobile motor in the early part of manufacturing moved around on the chassis. It was on the back of the chassis, then in the center, then to the front, and back again to the rear of the automobile. The early motors were built at the Lambert factories of the Buckeye Manufacturing Company and later they were outsourced to other proprietary manufactures.


MG TF may refer to two roadster automobile models produced by MG Cars:

MG TF (1953), produced from 1953 to 1955

MG TF (2002), produced from 2002 to 2005, and then from 2007 to 2011

Robert Cumberford

Robert Wayne Cumberford (born August 4, 1935) is a former automotive designer for General Motors, author and design critic – widely known as Automotive Design Editor and outspoken columnist for Automobile magazine.

Examples of Cumberford's critiques:

The Dream cars of the 50's: "myths created to make people dream about the future."

The $2,500 Tata Nano: "perhaps the most significant car since the Ford Model T was introduced 100 years ago."

The Jeep Cherokee: "One of the 20 greatest cars of all time."

the NSU Ro80: “A handsome, modern-looking car with much cleaner lines than anything of the time.”

The Jaguar E-Type "Elegant, extremely phallic and a great middle-aged man's compensation," and "the ultimate automotive expression of phalliform perfection."

The Ford Five Hundred:"It's a pretty good trick to make a brand-new car look old, bland and boring right out of the box. No doubt it's a good car, but one fundamentally uninteresting visually."

The 2016 Acura NSX: Its "very hard to mess up the styling of a mid-engine sports car... but Acura has managed it."

The Tesla Model S: "I would happily own one."

The Tesla Model 3: "It is an excellent design."On the automotive industry, Cumberford wrote in 1998 that "a lot of automotive enthusiasm is based on what is undoubtedly immature excitement over excess." In 2014 he wrote that there is "no foreseeable future for the Italian coachbuilding firms," referring to the storied design houses of Bertone, Zagato, Ghia, Pininfarina and Giugiaro.

On prominent automotive figures, Cumberford described Alec Issigonis, who received a knighthood "in recognition of his engineering genius," as "not terribly innovative in a mechanical sense." He wrote in 2004 that intensely controversial car designer Chris Bangle is "a man with the courage of his convictions and of solid character, and he is worthy of our admiration for that alone." Noted automotive cartoonist Stan Mott described Cumberford as "an intellectual automotive enthusiast." Automobile editor Jean Lindamood Jennings said Cumberford "is highly opinionated, as every working car designer in the world today knows, sometimes painfully," adding that his design reviews have become "wildly popular." At the 2013 LA Auto Show, Jennings said Cumberford "tends toward a certain cantankerous crustyness just shy of curmudgeonly."Cumberford won the 2013 Best Article of the Year Award from the Motor Press Guild for his article, "GM's Road Not Taken" about the LaSalle II Roadster, published in Automobile magazine in March 2013.

Singer Motors

Singer Motors Limited was a British motor vehicle manufacturing business, originally a bicycle manufacturer founded as Singer & Co by George Singer, in 1874 in Coventry, England. Singer & Co's bicycle manufacture continued. From 1901 George Singer's Singer Motor Co made cars and commercial vehicles.

Singer Motor Co was the first motor manufacturer to make a small economy car that was a replica of a large car, showing a small car was a practical proposition. It was much more sturdily built than otherwise similar cyclecars. With its four-cylinder ten horsepower engine the Singer Ten was launched at the 1912 Cycle and Motor Cycle Show at Olympia. William Rootes, a Singer apprentice at the time of its development and consummate car-salesman, contracted to buy 50, the entire first year's supply. It became a best-seller. Ultimately, Singer's business was acquired by his Rootes Group in 1956, which continued the brand until 1970, a few years following Rootes' acquisition by the American Chrysler corporation.

Car design
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