Strap on your helmets, boys and girls: these five open-top speedsters put nothing in between you and the wind rushing rapidly through your hair.
Cars have grown to encompass all manner of convenience features these days: cup holders, electric everything, satellite navigation, automatic sensors of every sort…. But not every car on the market or show stand packs such an extensive equipment list – and not for budget reasons, either. In fact some don’t have roofs, windows or even a windshield, for that matter. And those are some of our favorites. They’re not very practical, and as a result they’re not very common. But here are five of our favorite contemporary windowless speedsters.
The most recent on our list is the Pininfarina Sergio concept. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show just two months ago, the Sergio is a tribute to the company’s late chairman. It’s based on a Ferrari 458 Italia, but ditches such frivolities as its roof and glass, replacing them with even more rakish coachwork. As a result, the Sergio is actually lighter than the car on which it is based, so its screaming 570-horsepower 4.5-liter V8 can drive it to 62 in a quoted 3.4 seconds. Although strictly a concept for the time being, Pininfarina says it could build a limited number of Sergio speedsters if there’s the demand.
Before McLaren and Mercedes-Benz parted ways, they teamed up for one last special-edition SLR. But rather than take the existing Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and simply tweak it, the two automakers cut off the roof, rebodied the car and turned it into something even more extreme. The result was called the Stirling Moss edition, in tribute to the octogenarian former racing driver. Only 75 examples were made, carrying the 640hp version of the 5.4-liter supercharged V8 from the 722 edition, but with nothing to impede the sensation of the rushing air as the car accelerated to 62 in 3.5 seconds and topped out at 220 mph.
Veritas likewise revealed the production RS III in 2009. Reviving the name and spirit of a post-war German racing manufacturer, the Veritas packed a 5.0-liter BMW V10 (instead of the concept's V12) to propel the aggressively-styled single-seat speedster to 60 in 3.6 seconds and a 216mph top speed. Alternate reports indicated that Veritas would build only 30 or 50 of the RS III, but following a hybrid prototype that appeared a couple of years ago, we haven’t heard much from the company since. Wiesmann, however, adopted a similar form with the Spyder concept it revealed at the 2011 Geneva show, earning an honorary place on this list.
Though Callaway today may seem like just another Chevy tuner back in the day it was far more. It didn’t just tune mechanical bits, but comprehensively rebodied Corvettes into different machines altogether. Its last such product was the C16. Based on the C6 Corvette, the Callaway C16 was launched in 2007 and came in coupe, convertible and speedster form. The latter ditched the roof and glass, with only a pair of deflectors to channel airflow over the occupants' heads. Its 6.2-liter supercharged V8 produced 700 horsepower and 660 lb-ft of torque to hit 60 in 3.2 seconds and top out at 210 mph, with a price tag exceeding $300k.
If all of these +/- 600-horsepower super-speedsters seem like too much machine for your modest tastes, then this last addition to our list may be more up your alley. Mazda revealed this MX-5 Superlight concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, ditching the roof and windows and replacing them with brushed aluminum hood and trim and an exquisite saddle-brown leather interior. Powered by a modest 1.8-liter four with just 126 horsepower, the MX-5 Superlight was conceived by Mazda’s European team in Germany to celebrate the Miata’s 20th anniversary. Unfortunately it never made production.