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102-Mile Barn Find: 1980 Comuta-Car

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it has to be a 1980 Comuta-Car. I’m a rabid fan of these cars and the related, earlier CitiCar and this looks like a nice one for an easy restoration. It can be found here on eBay in Morgantown, Pennsylvania with ridiculously low bids so far. For the record, in case you were wondering about the seller listing it as a 1976 CitiCar and my referring to it as a 1980 Comuta-Car. In general, a CitiCar with big battery-filled bumpers is a later Comuta-Car, and I also decoded the VIN which lists it as a 1980 Comuta-Car, the 577th one made that year

Most of us have seen the CitiCar and Comuta-Car so this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. And yes, they look and act like a golf cart, but they wouldn’t be as handy as a golf cart for actual golf course duty with no real way to haul golf clubs around. And, most golf carts wouldn’t be street legal other than in some communities where they can play golf year-round (I’m lookin’ at you, Florida)… The odometer shows 102 miles so this one has been stored for a long time. And, for the record, they were made in Florida.

The earlier CitiCar was a much more pure design, if you can call anything related to the look of this vehicle “design”. I can, but I like them, a lot of people think that they’re a joke. That’s ok, we can’t all like the same vehicles, can we? What would that make us, some sort of cult? I love it that there are people here who love Hemi Cudas and jacked-up diesel pickups and vintage Mercedes sedans and yes, even vintage EVs. That’s my kind of world and I hope it never changes.

Those bumpers, though! A lot of us know that they house the batteries that used to be under the front seat. Or actually, there is only one seat in these things. The seller says that these are Oldsmobile wire wheel covers and why not? It’ll be a long time before Pebble Beach starts judging CitiCars or Comuta-Cars so a 99-point concours restoration is only in my mind, it isn’t on the mind of most rational people.

I’ve always wondered why most of these cars seem to have white seats, is it because it’s hot in Florida where they were made and white doesn’t attract the sun as much as black seats do? Maybe it’s to brighten up the interior so it doesn’t seem as small as it really is? This car really does look good, condition-wise. These later Comuta-Cars had a few extra features that the CitiCar didn’t have, but I’m still on the fence about the look of them with those battery-storage-compartment bumpers.

The interior needs some general cleaning and touch-up but it looks great otherwise. The dash is filled with buttons and meters and gauges, but most of them are straightforward, no pun intended. The seller has included a ton of great photos – nice work! They even included many underside photos. I’d want to reseal the differential and take care of that crusty, corrosive battery overflow on the battery box before it caves in. But other than that, and some general “flash rust”, as they say in 2020, it looks good.

After making this thing operate like new, or better than new, my first task would be to change out as many fried rubber gaskets and seals and parts as I could. Add new shocks and any bushings that may be worn or deteriorated from age, and then just use it to bop around the neighborhood for something different to drive. They were never meant for freeway duty, of course, but around neighborhood streets, they should be fine. The seller says that this is the 6-volt motor which is the one you want, unless a person was thinking of upgrading the system, and some owners have done that. I’d keep it just like it is, maybe lose the Olds wire wheel covers and get some moon caps and use it to head to the grocery store a mile away or to meet a friend for coffee.

Comments

  1. WayneM

    I’m from the area that this car lives in and given where it’s being stored there is a good likely hood that the reserve is pretty decent for it. Most of the cars in the classic auto mall can be pricey. It serves as a heated storage as well as a consignment shop. The classic auto mall used to be a large outlet mall in Morgantown some years ago then they tried to make it a furniture mall. That didn’t work out. Now it’s a car store and this.
    I can hope I’m wrong though since I want one of these as well. I’d use it to learn how to upgrade one of these cars. I’m an IT guy and it shouldn’t be hard to take that knowledge to learn some electronics on something like this.
    Now the mileage is actually 13,000 according to the Ebay ad now. So it’s been around the block a few times.
    It also doesn’t have a title. Which would hold it’s value back.

    Like 5
  2. jerry z

    Maybe someone from The Villages in Florida should buy it. Have something unique!

    Like 3
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      That’s what I was thinking of, jerry z! I was there exactly one year ago this week and I remember it looking like a movie set. Being in a drive-thru line with golf carts with zippered convertible tops on them (it was in the 40s in the mornings) was weird.

      Like 5
      • Charles Grinage

        Hey Scottie, I’m looking for a 1975 toyota for car parts do you know of any. I own a 1975 toyota that I’m fixing up, can you point me in the right direction?

        Sincerely Charles Grinage
        830-303-2403

    • Skip Weaver

      Wouldn’t be fancy enough for the Villages.

  3. Ken Carney

    I live in Winter Haven and this little bugger is much better than a golf cart and would suit me just fine while I took
    myself wherever I choose to go. Along
    with replacing the seals and gaskets,
    I’d also add newer, more efficient charge controllers and lithium ion batteries to
    bring safety and drivability up to modern
    times. Another thing I’d add would be solar panels to the roof and bumpers to
    increase it’s range as well. That way, you
    can trickle charge the batteries while you
    drive it. And when all was said and done,
    you’d have the perfect vehicle to get you
    around after a hurricane knocks out the
    power and you can’t get gas. Let the other poor schmucks pay $8-$10 a gallon
    for whatever gas they can find. As long
    as the sun keeps shining, you’ll have a
    way to get where you need to go with no
    worries at all. Makes me wonder too if
    you can get a set of mag wheels to fit it.
    All I can say is I WANT IT!

    Like 3
    • Skip Weaver

      They were made in Sebring ! Not so far away from you. Very crude electrics. Why is it that most electric cars seem to be ugly ? The Fisker Karma and Tesla being exceptions

  4. bobk

    Batteries in the front and rear bumpers…right where they would be impacted in the event of an accident….assuming one could get up enough speed to be impacted….what could possibly go wrong there.

    Having said that, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for these as well.

    Like 3
    • WayneM

      That’s why you would want to upgrade to Lithium Ion batteries. That way the Lithium can help you not care in case of the accident.

      Like 2
  5. BR

    Did they also make the Johnny Cab?

    Like 3
  6. Matty

    I have a restored one made for the USPS as a prototype 12 six volt batteries. The USPS never used them to deliver mail.They were made in Sebring Fl, mine is a 1980. I use it for shows and parades, retired letter carrier.

    Like 1
  7. Wayne

    “or better than new” Add a cup holder??? I like the add moon wheel covers. Then you would be ready for the salt flats! (lol)

  8. Comet

    If a Triumph TR7 and a golf cart had a baby…

    Like 2
  9. Ken

    The drivers door interior has a nice ashtray, with a lid. Simpler times

  10. Wayne

    I am not sure that you would want to smoke with the possibly of gasses from cooking batteries.

  11. Cooter914 Cooter914 Member

    Am I the only fella that would love to see one of these with a Hayabusa Powertrain installed.

    Like 2
  12. John

    Very pretty bumpers…

  13. Andy Birmingham

    I have one for sale in North Carolina 252-725-3201 Andy

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