Electric Car Find: CitiCar Collection

Until Tesla came onto the scene, the CitiCar was the most-produced, electric-powered car built in North America since 1945. Their heyday was between 1974 and 1977, although variants were built as late as 1982. Found together are three of these little electric marvels, one each from 1977, 1978 and 1980. The latter is a runner and the other two are awaiting restoration. These vehicles are available as a package deal here on craigslist in Galion, Ohio for $5,995. Thank you, Jim Cormany, for finding these interesting vehicles for us!

In response to the 1970s energy crisis, Sebring-Vanguard produced the wedge-shaped CitiCar from 1974-77. Its design is said to have been inspired by Club Car’s electric golf carts. After being acquired by another company, variants of the CitiCar (aka Comuta-Car) saw another run of electric vehicles built from 1979-82. All-in-all, 4,444 of these little marvels were assembled, a mark that wouldn’t be beat until Tesla got into the electric-powered car business. The exterior design of these things is visible today in the Kewet, an electric car built in Norway.

The mechanical elements of the voltage-motivated car evolved over the years. Later models used a six-horsepower motor with 8 X 6-volt batteries that would propel the little bullets up to 34 and 38 mph, so be careful of getting whiplash. The range on the cars was about 40 miles and they employed Vanguard’s Multi-Voltage Speed Control System which was akin to an automatic transmission. Thanks, Wikipedia, for following the history of these cars in such detail.

The seller has somehow managed to accumulate three of these electric cars, although we’re not told how that came about. The 1980 model (which would be determined mostly by when it was first registered) has new batteries (Interstate Brand) along with new mechanicals, such as a drive motor and an on-board charger. With just 2,200 miles on it, this CitiCar is said to drive well. The other two, from 1977 and 1978, are not that far along and will require some work. Since we don’t know how easy it is to find parts for these cars, it’s hard to say whether you’d want to fix up the other two, restore one and keep one for parts, or just save both of them for parts to keep 1980 going.

There isn’t a plethora of these cars available for sale online. A few of these have turned up on Barn Finds occasionally from $3,000 to $5,500. So, what this seller is asking works out to be about $2,000 apiece for his trio. If you were to take him up on his offer, what would you exactly do with them? They only seem to make sense as urban vehicles given the top speed and range on a charge.

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Comments

  1. Brick Member

    The 1980 model must be a ComutaCar. Sebring Vangaurd went bankrupt in 1978 after selling about 2400 CitiCars. The company that bought the assets renamed the car. The main difference was the addition of those massive bumpers.
    https://www.makesthatdidntmakeit.com/sebringvanguard

    Like 2
  2. Mark

    Reminds me of the robots from Silent Running lol.

    Like 6
  3. 370zpp

    Do they come with a snow-blower attachment?

    Like 2
  4. angliagt angliagt Member

    I remember seeing a red one of these in Weaverville,CA,
    years ago.Always wondered where it went.

    Like 1
    • steve

      Was on his way to In-N-Out Burger and hasn’t gotten back yet…

      Like 1
  5. John

    1977- restore
    1978- Hyabusa swap
    1980- …say it with me….LS swap

  6. dave brennan

    There’s a couple of these (new) hiding in a trailer in upstate n.y.

    Like 1
  7. BR

    Johnny Cab.

  8. Jerry K

    These hot machines were built in an old aircraft hangar at the Sebring airport where they used to run the 24 hours of Sebring race on the runways…A little before their time…

  9. Phlathead Phil

    Phrankly, it’s a shame this car never took off. I mean, it’s got a phlat top, phlat sides and a phlat back. Perphect for a phlathead like me!!

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