The Long and Short of it: 1980 Comuta-Car

Believe it or not, and you can believe it, I’m a huge fan of these cars. This is a 1980 Comuta-Car and it’s listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $1,500. It’s located in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania so you can figure out the shipping for this 8-foot long, 1,250-pound car. This is one wacky wedge.

This car is a no-brainer at $3,000 as these early factory-made EVs are starting to take off in popularity. I, and many others, predict that these early, factory EVs will be one of the next big things, collector-wise, not size-wise – this car is only 8-feet long even with those crazy duckbill bumpers which actually house the batteries. The bumpers are supposedly NOS pieces. The driver’s door is misaligned a bit but, other than that and a few normal nicks and scratches, the body looks good on this one. Being a “newer” model Comuta-Car it has sliding windows as opposed to snap-in clear-vinyl windows that the CitiCar had. I very much prefer the look of the smaller CitiCar, but if you’re actually going to use it as a daily driver the Comuta-Car is the way to go with a higher speed (around 40 mph) and a longer range (up to 50 miles).

The rear bumper / battery area looks like it’s sagging a bit. The seller says that the former owner actually had a gas-powered generator mounted on the remnants of the steel rack seen sticking out there. They wanted to extend the 40-50 mile range by having a generator charging the batteries as they drove. Hmm.. now that’s wacky, sort of an early Chevy Volt idea. Unfortunately, they cut the rear battery cover for that rack and yeah, you probably don’t want to get too much water in that area. I’d remove that rack and patch those holes asap.

The Comuta-Car is an updated CitiCar with a longer range due to the ungainly bumper battery compartments, originally holding four six-volt batteries in each the front and rear bumper housing. The earlier, shorter CitiCar was made from 1974 to 1977 by the Sebring-Vanguard company, which was eventually sold to Commuter Vehicles, Inc. which went on to produce the Comuta-Car from 1979 to 1982. They also made a postal van version called the Comuta-Van. These cars were made with a DOT-approved safety cage under its ABS plastic skin and, yes, you don’t want to get into an accident in one of these.

This car has power windows, power locks, heated seats, GPS, and ice-cold AC. And.. screeeeeech.. Just kidding, of course. It’s pretty basic, but the dash is laid out like the cockpit of a fighter jet. Well, maybe not quite but there are a lot of buttons and lights and switches for a 40-45-mph car. The seat looks dirty but perfect and you’ll find the charger under there. This particular car needs a new master cylinder and new tires, and luckily the original wheel covers are there, those are hard to find.

Here’s the “motor”, so to speak. There is no word on if it’s a 3.5-hp or 6-hp but, of course, the 6-hp would be better for a higher top speed. A lot of owners modify their cars with bigger motors and more batteries for a longer range and higher top speed. This car will need 8 new 6-volt batteries which is about $500-$600, so you’ll have to mentally add that on top of whatever your bid is. Or, if you’re creative you can use 12-volt batteries and add a bigger motor. The Comuta-Car was the biggest-selling battery-powered car before the Tesla S, believe it or not, but they still made under 5,000 of them so some trim parts may be hard to source. This car is easily worth $2,500-$3,000 as it sits even with the work that it needs. Have any of you owned or driven a factory-made EV like a Comuta-Car?

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Comments

  1. JW

    Are those 40 mph bumpers ??? I guess you could use them for seats at the Drive-in or tables at a tailgating party. I’m sorry to hurt anyones feeling but the seller couldn’t give it to me.

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  2. BradL

    The bumpers look like they were installed by Jeremy Clarkson.

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    • Red'sResto

      Love it is like the perfect vehicle for Captain Slow…

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  3. Ed P

    I’m with JW on this one. It looks like an enclosed golf cart.

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    • Jeffro

      Anybody else see a slight resemblance?

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      • Red'sResto

        Lol. Photoshop!

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      • Troy

        probably just as reliable…risky to take either one more than 20 miles from home

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  4. boxdin

    Getting there is half the fun, unless you’re in this car.

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  5. Mark Hoffman

    I remember CityCar. The Pontiac dealer got the franchise to sell them around 1975. Think they finally sold the 6 or 8 they had. One they used to run paperwork back and forth to the local DMV, 5 blocks away. Easy to park where parking was hard to find.

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  6. Rodney

    I imagine that if he were to come back today and saw this, Nikola Tesla would never stop throwing up…….

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  7. Mark S

    I no that this car is to hidius to really consider my proposal but what if this was instigated with a side by side quad. Four wheel drive top speed of 60 to70 mph and now street legal. Oh and lose those ugly bumpers. JMHO😊

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  8. Chebby

    Neat history. It really would be hard to make this car uglier. I guess that’s a plus.

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  9. Sofakingfast

    Short wheel base. Batteries hung as far outside wheelbase as possible. I wonder what that does to the ride and handling. I would think it would be a bit choppy on uneven or undulating roadways.

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  10. Don

    The wooden dash lends an air of elegance to an otherwise ugly duckling I think meant to be a swan for those seeking the absolute in efficiency and minimalist sophistication…. but yes, it’s got a golf cart look to it.

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  11. KeithK

    A local pharmacy bought one of these back in the day to deliver pills and sundries to seniors. There were a lot of disappointed seasoned seniors as it spent most of its time parked by the curb in an area out of its range. Imagine being the teenager who pulled this duty. A hat ,big sunglasses and a fake mustache were probably found stashed within.

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  12. Alex B

    I’ve seen some ugly U.S spec bumpers, like on the Lamborghini Countach, but this takes the cake and first prize.

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  13. Big Mike

    I think you can mount a couple of lawn mowers under those bumpers and heck you would have a electric lawn mowing ride. Wait what am I saying, I already have a riding lawn mower it is Green and yellow.
    Never mind, it is a Tuesday.

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  14. Howard A Member

    Love the “wire nuts” on the motor. Nobody ever answered me, could you take these out in the rain? Wasn’t there some “hanky-panky” with the Citicar, or one of these, a man claiming he was a woman to get funding or something? Can’t find anything on that, anybody?

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    • CaptMark

      Like a golf cart; ok in the rain, as far as that is ok I quess. Always wanted one, shoulda coulda I quess. I think you mean the Dale. Prototype only no production.

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      • Howard A Member

        Thanks Capt, the Dale. And a golf cart in the rain? I don’t know what to say about that ( with a bag of lightning rods in the back)

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  15. Red'sResto

    Some of those dash buttons have to be for show only. Surely there arn’t that many bells and whistles.

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    • Ed P

      There is one bell. You have to ring it as you drive, slowly, down the street.

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      • Chebby

        That me laugh out loud, for reals

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  16. Ralph

    In the early 90’s there was a golf course near me that had about 10 of the postal van versions of these that they cannibalizing for parts for their regular golf carts, I remember them sitting in the maintenance building.

    These are hideous turds, maybe for $500 it would have some funny/curiosity value, but there are so many better cars I could spend $3000 on….

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  17. Jeffro

    If you were to remove the batteries, there still isn’t enough room for a sbc.

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  18. Martin Sparkes

    You could replace the deep cycle lead acid batteries with Lithium ion, a good charge controller and a larger motor and have a good commuter car. And the lithiums are much more compact so you could loose most of the bumpers. Or stick them inside somewhere as lithiums are sealed.

    I have a friend who made an electric car and commutes 40 miles to work with it. It is very reliable. He plugs it into the wall at night.

    If you lost the bumpers and added some nice wheels this thing would be less butt ugly too.is it much different from an early VW Rabbit?

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    • Red'sResto

      At least you’d have one “hot” ride if those lithium batteries caught fire…

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  19. That Guy

    The original Bosuzoku.

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  20. ckkurtz Member

    It’d be fun for the local parade…I guess.

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  21. Ed P

    The Shriners would have fun with this.

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  22. KevinW

    A redneck could use this as a wheel chock for his monster truck.

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  23. junkman Member

    I have a citicar out in the barn I drove back and forth to work for a while. My wife keeps telling me to sell it but I think I’ll wait for the market to improve, Probably get a nice steak dinner for what it’s worth right now! By the way these cars? hate hills, the fastest I got it to go was 42 (down hill with a tailwind ).

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  24. Doug Towsley

    In some circles you would be super cool with this for the nostalgia. Sure its ugly but I can think of a lot of vehicles that are coveted and super ugly. For certain purposes these have a great use and a good idea. We have a vacation property and almost EVERYONE has a golf cart or motorized bicycle (Most electric) for the grounds. Some are gas, some electric. We have no issues in the rain, after all its Oregon. It rains all the time. I have driven in snow too. Electric vehicles have come a long way. One of the EV gods is a local guy named John Waylan. A genius. I met him back in 1980 and bought some music gear from him as he used to run a music store and had a equipment rental business for bands and events. PA systems.
    I have followed his foray into electric vehicles with interest and while I dont have one, I wouldnt rule it out, But John puts the COOL into EV cars. And many agree. He is featured a LOT in magazines See: http://www.plasmaboyracing.com/index.php

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    • The One

      Wow! What a great video! Holy Moses that car flies!
      I want one..

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      • Doug Towsley

        yep, He breaks stuff so we dont have to. 10 sec in the quarter mile with an award winning stereo system. The guy has a wicked sense of humor. Loves to blare epic music to freak out the other racers on the track. He gets equal write ups in audio magazines as well as performance car magazines. It would be fun what John would do with this little car in this feature.

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    • Chebby

      That guy is awesome, I’ve watched a bunch of his videos. He’s your neighbor?

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      • Doug Towsley

        No, he is not my neighbor but I used to take guitar classes at his store. My teacher was a semi famous rocker in the late 70s and early 80s in the area. He rented space in Johns store. John is an expert in all things electronic and he has a long history with music gear and rented out PA systems for bands. He used to have the mixing board KISS used for most of the 1970s while touring in the US. Fun bit of history to sit there and play with the equipment that rocked so many stadiums. John lives in the Portland Oregon area and so do I. Not hard to find him and I see him at motorsports and shows from time to time. But he knows a lot of people and when I see him I have to remind who I am, So we are not that close friends, But I admire him and his talents. Ironically If I describe the guitar and music gear I bought he remembers. (That bitchin Carvin Combo amp, 2 channels with DI to the board, Dual EQs with built in switchable distortion and hammand reverb, Twin celestion speakers and foot switch. I was saving for a Marshall stack. My buddy called me and said you gotta come to the shop and check out the new amp John has, screw the Marshall, you gotta buy it! Paid payments for about 6 months)

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  25. Matt B

    The motor is a 6 HP and the rack that mounts over the rear bumper is included. It is sitting on the ground to the left of the car in the first picture. Also the rear bumper is not sagging, just sloped down for aerodynamics.

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  26. The One

    The long bumpers remind me of the toy car that when it hit the wall would explode into numerous pieces.

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  27. Jeff G

    My cousin had a city car sitting outside our shop for several years a decade ago. It was given to him by someone who wanted it gone. I remember it had solar panels on the roof. When we moved our shop the city car had to go. Put it on Craigslist and finally ended up giving to a guy who had a few of them. Are you seeing a trend here? 😂

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  28. Turbotimez

    How about Roli’s from Counts Custom?

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