Roadster (automobile)

Last updated
2015 Mazda MX-5 (ND) Roadster GT convertible (2018-09-03) 01.jpg
1931 Ford Model A 40B Roadster C9954.jpg
1931 Ford Model A roadster

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.

Contents

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 This type of racing car was superseded by rear-mid-engine cars.

Etymology

Early roadster competing for the Vanderbilt Cup 1909 Vanderbilt Cup, American roadster.jpg
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 term "Spider" or "Spyder" sometimes used in convertible names is said to come from before the automobile era. Some 19th-cenntury lightweight horse-drawn phaetons had a small body and large wooden wheels with thin spokes; they were nicknamed "spiders" because of their appearance; the nickname was transferred to sports cars, although they did not look similar. [13] An alternative explanation for the term, used principally on Italian cars, is simply the Italian transliteration of "Speeder" or "Speedster", originating in a reporter's crackly telephone call to Italy in 1953 about the Porsche 550 "Speedster" (a car driven by James Dean). [14]

History

The earliest roadster automobiles, sometimes called "speedster" 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.

By the 1970s "roadster" could be applied to any two-seater car of sporting appearance or character. [15] In response to market demand they were manufactured as well-equipped as convertibles [16] with side windows that retracted into the doors. Popular models through the 1960s and 1970s were the Alfa Romeo Spider, MGB and Triumph TR4.

The highest selling roadster is the Mazda MX-5, which was introduced in 1989. [17] [18] [19] 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

1957 Kurtis Indy roadster Kurtis Indy Roadster Donington pits.jpg
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. [20]

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.[ citation needed ]

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, [21] 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. [22] 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. [23]

Some pavement midgets roadsters were built and raced into the early 1970s but never were dominant. [24]

See also

Related Research Articles

Mazda MX-5 Lightweight two-passenger roadster

The Mazda MX-5 is a lightweight two-passenger roadster sports car manufactured and marketed by Mazda with a front mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. The convertible is marketed as the Mazda Roadster or Eunos Roadster in Japan, and as the Mazda MX-5 Miata in North America, where it is widely known as the Miata.

Sports car Performance-oriented car class, generally small or light-weight with good handling

A sports car is a car designed with an emphasis on dynamic performance, such as handling, acceleration, top speed, or thrill of driving. Sports cars originated in Europe in the early 1900s and are currently produced by many manufacturers around the world.

Convertible Vehicle with a removable roof

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 and cargo space.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Motorsport track in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an automobile racing circuit located in Speedway, Indiana in the United States. It is the home of the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, and formerly the home of the United States Grand Prix. It is the largest sports venue in the world. It is located on the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road, approximately six miles (10 km) west of Downtown Indianapolis.

Quincy David "Quin" Epperly was an American racing car constructor. He was born in Floyd, Virginia, to John Wesley and Iowa Texas Epperly. After completing a correspondence course in "Theory of Aircraft Construction", Epperly moved to Southern California in 1940 to work for Lockheed and Pacific Airmotive. During the war, he joined the Coast Guard Reserve to spend evenings after work on watch at the Wilmington Coast Guard Patrol Base.

United States Auto Club Auto racing sanctioning body in the United States

The United States Auto Club (USAC) is one of the sanctioning bodies of auto racing in the United States. From 1956 to 1979, USAC sanctioned the United States National Championship, and from 1956 to 1997 the organization sanctioned the Indianapolis 500. Today, USAC serves as the sanctioning body for a number of racing series, including the Silver Crown Series, National Sprint Cars, National Midgets, Speed2 Midget Series, .25 Midget Series, Stadium Super Trucks, TORC: The Off-Road Championship, and Pirelli World Challenge.

Touring car

Touring car and tourer are both terms for open cars.

George Amick American racing driver

George Reggie "Little George" Amick was an American racecar driver, mainly competing in the American National Championship. He was killed in a crash in a USAC 100-mile (160 km) race at Daytona International Speedway.

Bill Vukovich American racing driver

William John Vukovich Sr. was an American automobile racing driver. He won the 1953 and 1954 Indianapolis 500 plus two more American Automobile Association National Championship races. Several drivers of his generation have referred to Vukovich as the greatest ever in American motorsport.

American open-wheel car racing Category of professional-level automobile racing in North America

American open-wheel car racing, also known as Indy car racing, is a category of professional automobile racing in Northern America. As of 2020, the top-level American open-wheel racing championship is sanctioned by IndyCar.

Indy Lights American automobile racing series

Indy Lights is an American developmental automobile racing series sanctioned by IndyCar, currently known as Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires for sponsorship reasons. Indy Lights is the highest step on the Road to Indy, a program of racing series leading up to the IndyCar Series. The Indy Lights series has been promoted by Anderson Promotions since 2014, which also manages the Road to Indy program.

This article discusses the year-by-year history of the Indianapolis 500 race.

Intermeccanica

Intermeccanica is an automobile manufacturer, founded in Torino, Italy, in 1959 by Frank Reisner. It subsequently moved first to the United States, then to Canada, and is currently headed by Frank's son, Henry Reisner.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway race results

Race results from the automobile and motorcycle races contested at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. Races have been held on six different track configurations:

IndyCar Auto racing sanctioning body for North American open wheel racing

INDYCAR, LLC, is an American-based auto racing sanctioning body for Indy car racing and other disciplines of open wheel car racing. The organization sanctions five racing series: the premier IndyCar Series with its centerpiece the Indianapolis 500, developmental series Indy Lights, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship and the U.S. F2000 National Championship, which are all a part of the Road to Indy and the Global Mazda MX-5 Cup. IndyCar is recognized as a member organization of the FIA through ACCUS.

Roadster may refer to: An Indian fashion Subsidiary of myntra.com

Mazda MX-5 (NC) Motor vehicle

The Mazda MX-5 (NC) is the third generation of the Mazda MX-5 manufactured from 2005 to 2015. At its introduction in 2005, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award and made Car and Driver's 10Best list from 2006 to 2013. The NC is the first MX-5 generation to feature a retractable hardtop variant, with its roof being able to fold and unfold in 12 seconds without sacrificing trunk space.

Mazda MX-5 (ND) Motor vehicle

The Mazda MX-5 (ND) is the fourth and current generation of the Mazda MX-5. Mazda officially unveiled the car on September 3, 2014, in the United States and Spain, and on September 4, 2014, in Japan. The new MX-5 was presented at the October 2014 Paris Motor Show, and at the November 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The car is manufactured in Mazda's Hiroshima plant since March 4, 2015. The vehicle was released in the third quarter of 2015. In the US, the release price of the MX-5 was between $24,915 and $30,065. On March 24, 2016 the MX-5 was awarded World Car of the Year (WCOTY) and the World Car Design of the Year at the New York Auto Show. It was the second Mazda to win WCOTY following the Demio/Mazda2 in 2008.

Mazda MX-5 (NA) Motor vehicle

The Mazda MX-5 (NA) is the first generation of the Mazda MX-5 manufactured from 1989 to 1997. Inspired by the post-war era British sports cars, the MX-5 rejuvenated interest in roadsters after the demise of cars such as the MG B and Triumph Spitfire. Since its debut, the MX-5 has won numerous automotive awards and has become the world's best selling sports car.

References

  1. Pollard, Elaine, ed. (1994). "R". The Oxford Paperback Dictionary (Fourth ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 692. ISBN   0-19-280012-4. roadsternoun 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. 1 2 3 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. 1 2 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". www.namgar.com. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  11. "MGA facts, figures and colours". mgcc.co.uk.
  12. "MG MGA ROADSTER For Sale - Car and Classic". www.carandclassic.co.uk.
  13. Silvestro, Brian (14 May 2018). "Here's Why Convertibles Are Called Spiders". Road & Track.
  14. Ternström, Peter (6 January 2020). "Why are so many Italian convertible cars called spider?". Gran Turismo Events.
  15. Georgano 1971, p. 216.
  16. Culshaw & Horrobin 2013, p. 482.
  17. "Mazda Produces 900,000th MX-5, Recognized as World's Best-Selling Sports Car". www.motortrend.com. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  18. "History of the Mazda MX-5 - picture special". www.autocar.co.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  19. "25 Snapshots of the Mazda Miata Through History". www.cheatsheet.com. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  20. "The 10 greatest Indy roadsters in history". www.macsmotorcitygarage.com. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  21. "(USAC) Championship Indy Car Roadster". www.ewarbirds.org. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  22. "Brickyard Classic: 1958 Indy 500 – The Salih and Epperly "Laydown" Roadsters". www.curbsideclassic.com. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  23. "Robin Miller". www.racer.com. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  24. "The Don Edmunds Fully Independent Suspended Roadster Midget". www.donedmunds.com. Retrieved 14 April 2019.