HomeCar CultureCommentaryWill Tesla roadster values rocket through the stratosphere?

Will Tesla roadster values rocket through the stratosphere?


About a year ago, I found myself thinking about electric vehicles and their collectability, or lack thereof. The more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that there will come the day when EVs will be featured on auction blocks and will be much in demand by car collectors.

Sure, you see the occasional Detroit Electric or Baker in auction catalogs from time to time. But the way things are progressing, what with electric-powered sports cars and even the Formula E racing series, the time is coming when EVs will become highly collectible.

I also became convinced that were I in position to invest in an EV, with an eye on enjoying the driving now — and enjoying the growth in value of my investment when I sold it somewhere down the road — the car I’d want would be one of the original Tesla Roadsters. I even started checking classified ads.

And I was discouraged to see that, for the most part, those original Tesla Roaedsters had held their value better than you’d expect from the typical used sports cars.

Eldon Musk’s Tesla Roadster readied for its space flight | SpaceX photo

And now Elon Musk and his SpaceX company have shot one of those red roadsters into space, and I’m guessing that the value of those remaining here on Earth will shoot up as well.

The Tesla Roadster isn’t the first motorcar to go into space. NASA sent up three Lunar Roving Vehicles in the early 1970s so Apollo astronauts could ride around on the moon’s surface.

But if I recall correctly, the Lunar Roving Vehicles were lacking on creature comforts and had a top speed of 8 mph (though Eugene Cernan reportedly got one up to 11.2 mph to claim the lunar land-speed record).

Tesla launched its Roadster for Earth roads in 2008, and over the course of about four years of production sold nearly 2,500 of them. They were true sports cars, very fast (EVs have instant torque) and with a range of around 200 miles on a full charge of its lithium-ion battery pack.

In a pre-launch interview, Musk told space.com that on typical test flights of new rocket technology (such as SpaceX’s new Falcon Heavy rocket), the payload carried tends to be concrete or steel, simply ballast to verify that the rocket will be capable to carrying real materials — or people — into space when the time comes.

“That seems extremely boring,” the website quoted a Twitter post by Musk.

To make things more interesting, SpaceX decided to use Musk’s own Tesla Roadster as its test payload. Not only that, the Roadster would carry a mannequin wearing a space suit while the car’s audio played David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

To make things even more interesting, there’s a scale model of the car and its passenger riding on the dashboard.

And now, if all goes well, the Tesla Roadster and its passenger are heading out into space after a few laps around the world. And I’ll be left looking again at those classified ads and watching for the prices to shoot up to the moon — and beyond.


Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


  1. His first car to be produced was to be a sedan that would be affordable, around 30K, or this is what the government was lead to believe when they gave him the millions of dollars in grant money to help finance sending a six figure car into space. Yep, another good screwing for the tax payers! The 2 cars he has already built are great but he should have respected the tax payers enough to do it in the right order. Would have gotten richer off the sedan and then could have built the others. Oh well, this is par for the course for big business and the government. Sounds like Obama and some congressmen are a little richer. Do WE really deserve this??????

    • You’re missing the point here Ken. Do you understand how significant it is that those booster rockets launched the car into space and then returned to earth? This is innovation that is launching us into the next space age. Who cares if the pay load was a car? And who care’s if my taxes paid for it? At least my tax dollars went toward fueling space exploration. I wish all my tax dollars could be as useful instead of paying for Trumps frequent vacations.

  2. batteries do not age well, the best ones do not last over 10 years, so this makes a collectible electric car an oxymoron. They are like old cell phones in a drawer, even if you one day decide to spend upwards of $50,000 and get a new battery, most likely you will not be able to find one. Even if you somehow manage to get a new battery, it will not again last much. Museum display -yes, collectible -no.

    • Perhaps, but I know people who are driving hybrid vehicles with batteries that are well over 10 years in age. And early 1900s Bakers and Detroit Electrics are still on the roads, as long as their batteries are charged. And even IC engines may need to be replaced from time to time as the mileage causes wear and tear.


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