The Return of the Roadster
by Doug Breithaupt

Roadster lovers rejoice. Just some 20 years ago, many predicted that there was no place for the roadster among modern automobiles. The Healey was gone and the Triumph and MG were on their last legs. Corvette's last roadster had been in 1975 and the Mercedes-Benz 350SL was too expensive for the masses. The roadster returned in the 1990's and today the selection of roadsters is impressive.

Toy car makers are always happy to produce high-profile cars and roadsters are a favorite. The nine cars shown below are all in current production, although colors may be different. The single model most responsible for the roadster renewal is Mazda's much-loved Miata. First offered in 1989, the Miata has proved that our love for the open road in an open car is alive and well. Mazda brought us an affordable roadster that is a delight to drive. Of course, Tomica offers one the best small-scale Miata models, (labeled as a Eunos, the name used in Japan). Only Hot Wheels, Zlymex and Road Champs put the Miata in their line-ups along with Tomica.

The other significant roadster of the 1990's came from Chrysler and Dodge. The Dodge Viper has now proved that it is much more than the hype that has surrounded it since introduction. It began as a Cobra-like showcar for the 1990's and today it is a champion of the Daytona, Le Mans and Sebring. The Viper has forced Corvette owners to concede that America's sports car may have a V10. Hot Wheels, Maisto, Johnny Lightning, Racing Champions, Road Champs and Matchbox have all done Viper RT or GTS models with the Matchbox RT one of the best.

Hot on the tail of the Viper, Chrysler gave Plymouth a roadster, just as amazing as the Viper. The Plymouth Prowler may not have saved Plymouth but it gave Plymouth a sweet note to to play goodbye. The Prowler has been done by Johnny Lightning, Maisto, Racing Champions and Matchbox. One British roadster is represented by the MGF. Now under British ownership, the MGF is appropriately offered by Matchbox. The Corvette C5 roadster has only been done by Johnny Lightning top date and it is a very nice example. The newest roadster is Honda's S2000. This car has been modeled by Tomica and Maisto to date.

The Germans have always liked roadsters and the big three are the Mercedes-Benz SLK230, BMW Z3/Z Roadster/M Roadster and the Porsche Boxter. Maisto, Hot Wheels, Yat Ming and Siku have done the SLK230. Siku, Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Yat Ming and Maisto have done the BMW. The Boxter is available from Tomica, Matchbox, Racing Champions, Yat Ming and Siku.

New roadsters from Toyota, Audi, BMW and Jaguar are sure to be offered by toy makers soon. The 2-seater, soft-top is hear to stay.

1993 Mazda Miata MX5 (Eunos) #111 by Tomica

1993 Dodge Viper RT/10 #37 by Matchbox

1998 Mercedes-Benz SLK230 by Maisto

1996 MGF #66 by Matchbox

1998 Corvette Conv. #735 by Johnny Lightning

1997 BMW Z3 #846 by Siku

2000 Honda S2000 #64 by Tomica

1994 Plymouth Prower #18 by Matchbox

1997 Porsche Boxter #55 by Matchbox