In 1955, a neighbor took me for a ride in his Jaguar XK-120. It was Olde English white with red leather interior. I still remember the smell of hot oil, the sound of the exhaust, the feel of the wind in my face and the sight of the clouds sliding by overhead. As we motored along, he explained the difference between a convertible and a roadster to me. He said, “A convertible is a two seater that has a top you put down under ideal conditions. A roadster is a two seater that has a top you put up only when you have no other choice!”
Over the years, I have owned a number of roadsters – an MGA, several MGB’s and presently a Mazda Miata. Yesterday, I took possession of my latest roadster, a 1991 Cadillac Allante. This model was designed to be a “halo” car for Cadillac – a top of the line offering that would raise the public perception of Cadillac at a time when its image in the marketplace was seriously tarnished.
The Allante was styled by renowned Italian coach builder PininFarina, a firm that had also designed a number of Ferraris. The cars were built in America, then flown across the Atlantic to Italy, where the craftsmen at PininFarina would complete the car and ship it back to America. The process was frightfully expensive, of course, which meant the cars were outrageously costly. My car retailed for over $53,000 in 1991. In today’s dollars, that would be well into 6 figure territory! Sadly, slow sales meant the Allante was discontinued in 1993 after only a 6 year production run.
There is something about a roadster that just makes us smile. It promises speed, power and adventure with a hint of danger. After all, actress Isadora Duncan was strangled while riding in a roadster when her long scarf became entangled in the rear wheel. People started wearing much shorter scarfs after that!
The new car was called “Pearl” by the prior owners and it is a most fitting name for this pearl white beauty. So welcome, Pearl. I wonder what motoring adventures are in store for us?