Vintage Reproduction Survivor: 1978 Gadabout 1900 Surrey

Oh, Florida! A place of warm beaches, dreams, and cars of all descriptions. Today we look at an automotive curiosity born in Ft. Lauderdale: a 1978 Gadabout 1900 Surrey, produced by Vintage Reproductions, Inc. Located in Orlando and listed here on eBay, you can purchase this unusual vehicle immediately for $3,900, or make the seller an offer.

Vintage Reproductions is a long-standing company with roots deep in the custom car business, and I suspect that they lasted, in large part, by building cars that are each tailored to a particular purpose. For the 1900 series, engine options included a 7 hp air-cooled 4-cycle engine and an 8 hp version, providing estimated top speeds of 25 to 30 mph. The vehicle has two forward gears and one reverse, mechanical brakes, and runs on motorcycle wheels. The body is a mix of plastic and plywood with a vinyl top. Company documents indicate that the chassis is welded angle iron with leaf spring suspension. Altogether, a perfectly serviceable vehicle as long as the customer keeps its limitations in mind: in particular, company correspondence is quite clear that racing the Gadabout is not advised.

This example appears to be in decent condition. Flaws can be mostly attributed to age and disuse, and anything this mechanically simple should not pose too much of a challenge to set right. The seller states that he was planning to replace the engine and that a new replacement is available for $280, but goes on to say that it might run as-is. Aside from this, there is damage to the front epoxy that could be addressed during an overall freshening of paint and surfaces. The pleather seats look to be in fairly good trim, along with the top. Taking all this into account, there’s no reason to doubt the seller’s claim that it only has 339 miles on it.

Now, why would someone buy this? Though the seller states that it is road-legal, I would not want to put that to the test. Nor would I want to ever test the car itself in any kind of traffic. At the time of its manufacture, Vintage Reproductions suggested advertising and fundraising, and there’s no reason to suspect that it would not serve very well in those roles– perhaps as a parade vehicle. In addition, I seem to remember seeing cars like this used as shuttles and tour vehicles in local amusement parks and roadside attractions. With many of these gone, though, perhaps the best use I can think of is as a golf cart replacement; not on the greens, but in any of the other applications in which golf carts find themselves. For example, it could be a fun little ride for snowbirds to keep in storage down south, breaking it out during their winter sojourn to make the daily run from the RV to the campground store– a fitting application for a Florida original.

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Comments

  1. Raymond

    I love it….I can see a 20hp Honda motor dropping in no problem, dosent need to be fast just classy, good thing I’m broke now… someone buy it

    Like 1
    • Jim

      Given the frequent comments I see on this site, I’ll be shocked if someone doesn’t suggest putting a 454 V8 in it! LOL

      • nlpnt

        I’m thinking more in terms of electrification.

        Like 1
  2. Ken Carney

    I’m with you Raymond, only I’d convert it
    to electric power instead. Something like this just screams electric car. After
    all, most cars at that time were electrics. Gas engines didn’t become
    reliable until the 1910s. Sure would be
    a great little ride to work or the smoke
    shop!

    Like 1
  3. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Sold for “Best offer accepted”

    Like 1

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