For all of those folks who purchased a calendar for 2016, this is a way to get to know the image that will be hanging on your wall for a month. At the start of each new calendar turn, a blog post will go live introducing the car and a little history behind it. If I have any more images of the car, then this is where you'll see them.
For the inaugural post, Ian was kind enough to construct a Q&A with the questions I posed to him, as well as adding a bit more to plump up the story. These monthly introductions will be dynamic, so don't get too comfortable. For now, please enjoy January.
Briefly introduce your car and why you drive it. What's your story?
This is an electric Tesla Roadster. Having grown up in England I wanted a British styled car, so we did test drives, one weekend in 2011, of the Jaguar XKR and Aston Martin DB9. We had actually ordered an XKR on the Saturday afternoon. Then I came across the Tesla while reading about cars on the internet. At that time Tesla Motors had very little publicity and a web site which just asked you to give them your details to set up a test drive. Tesla called me back almost immediately and said they could have a car at my house for a test drive the following morning (Sunday) at 8 am. My Wife and I both loved the car immediately and it was a revelation to tear down our residential street in near silence. I like the way the car handles; very little body roll but the nose lifts up significantly under full acceleration - it almost feels like you could pull a wheelie in this car. The response to the foot pedal is immediate; it reminds me of the slot cars I used to play with as a kid. I feel very lucky to own this car and love talking to people about it - even the cops who occasionally follow me around!
What's the exact model of your car? Where does it fit in the production history?
This is a 2011 Tesla Roadster "version 2.5", the last production variant of the 100% electric Tesla Roadster. The carbon fibre body is light and the car overall requires little maintenance. This particular vehicle is was one of the last Roadsters which were built-to-order for US customers in terms of paint and features; the sequence number is 1329 out of approximately 1450 which were shipped to US customers. A further 950 or so were shipped abroad for a total production of 2400 over the lifetime of the car. The last new Roadster was sold in 2012. There was a "Roadster Sport" version available as an upgrade package at build time, which has a different motor and does 0-60 in 3.7s, but this is the base model with a 0-60 time of 3.9s.
How long have you had the car? What is the mileage? How often do you drive it?
We ordered the car new in March 2011 and took delivery three months later (the cars really were being manufactured to order at that time; three months was the minimum wait time). I was putting 600 miles a week on the car for a while, as I had a long commute and it is my daily driver, but that was only for the first year or so. The total mileage is now around 46K and I still drive it every day.
What is special about your car? Is it a collector's vehicle? Have you customized it?
This is an almost 100% stock vehicle and apart from being rare it is not yet a collector's car. Driving an all-electric car still feels so novel that I didn't feel the urge to customize it at all. We added a few official upgrades when we ordered it: shiny wheels, tech package (sound system, reversing camera, etc.), and most Roadster owners have had the headlights upgraded by Tesla to Xenon bulbs. But these are pretty basic changes. The only 3rd-party product in the car is a product called the "Open Vehicles Monitoring System" (OVMS) which allows me to track the car on a smart phone as well as control charging if is plugged in, or lock/unlock it remotely.
What have been the worst and best experiences with this car?
Worst: I think I've been extremely lucky with this car which has never broken down or left me stranded. The worst single experience I personally had in the car was probably losing control and doing a 180 degree spin in the snow, on a narrow road in the winter of 2013 - luckily for me there was nothing coming the other way and I just ended up facing backwards in the opposite lane. That's not a feature of this car and could have happened to anyone, but I'd started to take the car for granted. Trying to fight that sensation now though!
Best: Honestly, this car is at its best every single time a stop light goes from red to green. It's not really a track racing car, but accelerating from zero to sixty in a straight line even on notorious Route 1 is a pure thrill which hasn't got old in the time I've owned this car. The electric drive train gives close to 100% torque from a standing start. Riding in the car feels amazing because the acceleration is smooth with no gear changes, and watching this car take off from a standing start is uncanny. It's as close as I've seen to a Star Wars speeder.
Any other thoughts about this car?
When people hear this is an electric vehicle they usually ask "how far on a charge?" (answer: 200+ miles) and "how long to charge back up?" (answer: 3-4 hours at 240V in my garage, although I rarely need to charge at the fastest rate). I only learned to drive at age 34 and this is almost my first car, so I'm just used to not stopping at gas stations, and not having my garage smell of gasoline.
I think the Roadster is a beautiful car; I like to see it in my garage and I lovingly detail it before every show. The acceleration, responsiveness and handling are great. Regardless of my mood when I get into the car, I usually climb out with a smile on my face!
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