While I can’t help but admire the madness behind the TDI-swapped Smart ForTwo we were taking a look at earlier this week, it’s not how I’d choose to get my kicks from one of the Daimler division’s early cars. Nope: I’d get a Roadster.
Confusingly offered as a Roadster or a Roadster Coupe - which combined the same targa top arrangement with a breadvan-shaped glasshouse sitting on the back - these pint-sized sports cars are now seriously cheap. As in sub-£2000 cheap.
On our classifieds trawl we did get a little carried away, and rather than picking one of the cheapest ones, we upped the imaginary budget a bit and plucked out this £3349 Brabus Roadster for closer inspection.
These benefit from a more powerful version of the mid-range 700cc turbocharged inline-three, pumping out a heady, umm, 99bhp. Even with a low kerb weight these aren’t exactly fast, with the sluggish six-speed sequential gearbox contributing to a leisurely 9.5 second 0-60mph time. But as we explained after a recent drive in the new VW Up GTI, there’s more to driving fun than outright speed.
Brabus Roadsters also have a slightly sportier exhaust, a slightly fancier cabin, lower suspension and 17-inch wheels that look comically over-sized on the car’s dinky frame.
If you’re interested in any Smart Roadster, check carefully for leaks. It’s a common and expensive issue to sort, and one that led to the car’s demise in the first place - Daimler was forced to end production following a flood of expensive warranty claims.
But if you do find a good one and take the plunge, hang on to it. Few are left now, and we get the sense that prices at the bottom end are starting to level out. Dare we say it - there might even be some future classic potential here…