Tesla is revamping its relationship with owners of the original Roadster. Here's a closer look at Tesla's first car.

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Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

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Tesla's first vehicle was the original Roadster, and even CEO Elon Musk now admits it was an early draft of what Tesla could do. The design was borrowed from Lotus, and the UK automaker supplied Tesla with chassis through the Roadster's run, from 2008-2012.

The Roadster announced, dramatically, what Tesla was all about: fast, sexy, all-electric cars. No more glorified golf carts.

The Roadster hit the market priced at $80,000, but by the time the third upgrade was retired, the sticker had topped $150,000. Around 2,500 were sold.

Many are still on the road, and Tesla recently announced it would provide separate customer service and maintenance support to Roadster owners; these folks are a committed crew of early adopters and Tesla continues to care about them.

Here's a closer look at the Tesla that fathered all that followed, from the Model S to Model X, Model 3, Semi, Cybertruck, and forthcoming New Roadster.

The original Roadster hit the street in 2008, after several years of development by an upstart Silicon Valley automaker called Tesla, after Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor.

Tesla Roadster 2007

TeslaElon Musk had taken all his winnings from selling PayPal to eBay and sunk them into Tesla and another company, SpaceX. He was determined to make electric cars a viable alternative to gas-powered vehicles.

elon musk red tesla roadster electric car smiling 2009 RTR23D14

Rebecca Cook/ReutersThe first Roadsters arrived in 2008, and Musk himself later admitted that they weren't the greatest cars in the world. But they made a statement, and over three iterations, Tesla ironed out the kinks.

tesla roadster buy back model s

Tesla MotorsThe Roadster wasn't an original Tesla design; "glider" chassis were borrowed from Lotus.

tesla roadster

Wikimedia CommonsThe electric drivetrain consisted of a rear-wheel-drive motor, a 53-kilowatt-hour battery pack consisting of 6,000 lithium-ion cells wired together and serving up over 200 miles of range, and a single-speed transmission. The 0-60 mph time was an impressive 3.9 seconds.

tesla roadster

Telsa MotorsTesla later improved the Roadster, launching the Sport 2.0 version in 2010. I drove it then, and was blown away. The 0-60 mph time improved to 3.7 seconds, but the price tag went up to about $100,000.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2010

Screenshot via YouTubeAbout five years, later, Tesla found a Roadster for me to revisit. It's still my favorite Tesla and the one I'd buy.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Read all about it.

By the time the Roadster had been officially retired, the battery pack had been upgraded to an 80 kWh capacity.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderWhat the car never lost, even as it got beefier power and more carbon fiber, was blinding straight-line speed and point-and-shoot handing. The car was a joy to steer, so precise was the rack.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderThe soft top could be quickly removed and stowed in a tiny trunk for open-air motoring.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderThe Roadster was how we got to know Tesla and understand Musk's ambition.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderThe car was rudimentary, however. Sure, the powertrain was high-tech. But you still started it with a key.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider The interior was bare-bones.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderThe transmission was basic.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderReadouts were digital, but they were like an early 2000s video game.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderThe infotainment system just barely got the job done.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business InsiderStill, if you don't count the Lunar Rover, this is the only Earth-bound car to make it into space. Piloted by "Starman," Musk's personal Candy Red Roadster was mounted atop SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket and sent into orbit in early 2018. It's still up there.

tesla roadster space

SpaceX via Getty ImagesFor Roadster lovers, there's currently no two-door on sale from Tesla. But the New Roadster, unveiled in 2017, is on the way. The 0-60 mph time is projected at 1.9 seconds, which would make it the fastest street-legal car available.

Tesla Roadster

TeslaWas a great car, still is. It's wonderful that Tesla continues to look after owners, even as it encourages them to think about adding newer Teslas to their fleets.

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

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