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Plug And Play: 1980 Comuta-Car

Like going to a wine tasting party, vintage EVs are very much an acquired taste, usually among a specialty group of folks with turtlenecks and skinny jeans and.. no, wait, that’s just for wine tastings. Folks who like cars like this 1980 Comuta-Car are in a league of their own. I know because I’m one of them and I’m at least as unusual as these cars are. This one can be found here on craigslist in Nappanee, Indiana, just southeast of South Bend. The seller is asking $3,300 for this car. Thanks to Pat L. for tracking down and sending in another great tip!

The photos are some of the most “non-good” (I’m trying to be kind) that I’ve seen. It’s really hard to tell the condition of anything about this car because they’re so grainy and most of them are dark. But, the seller says that pretty much everything works on this car and it runs and drives, unlike some Comuta-Cars that we’ve seen in the last few years here.

The body on this car has seen better days but it appears to be wearing its original and rare $100 optional metallic Bar Harbor Blue paint. Original is king for me so I’ll take an uber-faded factory paint job over a poorly-applied repaint any day of the week. The Comuta-Car, as most of you know, was an upgrade and continuation of the CitiCar with bigger, battery-filled bumpers both front and rear. The cute factor was all but gone once the bumpers became battery storage but at least you weren’t sitting on hoards of batteries under the seat and the range was extended a bit. Another upgrade would be the sliding side windows compared to the snap-out windows on the CitiCar.

The seller says that this car has the 48-volt motor and it’s new, and also that it has 8 six-volt batteries so it must be the SV-48 model. A top speed of just under 40 mph and a 40-mile range isn’t much for either category but some owners have upgraded their CitiCars and Comuta-Cars to 1.5 to 2 times the range and 50+ mph. There appears to be a bit of surface rust on some of the metal parts of this car which one might expect for a Midwest car. Have any of you seen a Comuta-Car in person? Better yet, have you seen one actually driving on a public street?


  1. Avatar photo Camaro Joe

    I’d buy it for $3K if it came with a good running Hayabusa motor and transmission. I’m pretty sure a Chevy LS won’t fit. The Hayabusa in this thing, without six batteries and a heavy electric motor, should be good for low 11 second quarter miles at least. The looks you get would be priceless. That is if you could get enough tire under it to hook it up, and if the 40 MPH steering and suspension didn’t wreck you at 120 MPH. It could be more dangerous that a Pro Stock Bike, but fun as long as things don’t go too far wrong.

    Like 5
  2. Avatar photo Jack M.

    I wonder if those tires are DOT approved. Looks like something off of a golf cart.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo rod444

      The cops wouldn’t ticket for those tires, Jack. They’ll be chuckling too hard.

      But yes, those are smaller than the correct tires on this model but those do come with the car in the ad.

      Like 1
  3. Avatar photo Steve Van Harn

    Our smallish town businessmen had one when they first came out
    Drove it like a clock to work. For a while
    I also noticed it

    Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Kenneth Carney

    Now this I could use to go from my new
    house to the corner store and get my
    daily Mountain Dew! I think I’d want to
    upgrade the electrics to get more range.
    Other than that, fix the body work and
    call it done. Might add solar panels
    later on to power the car during the day.
    Saw one like that on YouTube not long
    ago and I really like the idea of saving
    the batteries for driving the car at night.
    Boy, do I like this car!

    Like 2
  5. Avatar photo rod444

    It was the first electric I ever saw when I was a just a kid. The one nice perk on the Commutacar is that the batteries are in those black boxes in the front and rear bumper. So battery servicing is easy. Also ensures maximum acid splash in the event of a collision.

    It’s cool, it’s classic, but unfortunately you can buy a well loved Prius or a ‘sexy’ old first gen Honda Insight for the same money and have a much more practical car.

    Like 2
  6. Avatar photo Steve Bond

    I recently bought a Comuta, got it running yesterday, drove it about 5 miles and it got hot and popped the breaker. Seems that the 2.5 inch duct hose on the electric motor cooling fan had come loose and the motor was not getting the airflow. It was fine when it cooled off, so I reattached the cooling duct and off I went again. What a hoot to drive, sure gets some stares, especially when people see me get in or out of it, I am 6’4 and weigh 270……….

    Like 1

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