Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Vintage Electric Car Profile: the almighty Sebring-Vanguard Citicar!

It's a gross oversight, the ever-present thing you never notice. A few years back, five of us found our way to the Pate Swap Meet. Swap meets are areas of great temptation for my crowd. And there is always a story of the one that got away. This one is a whopper for me.

You see, the ever-present symbol for the vintage electric car around this blog is the Sebring-Vanguard Citicar. When I hear the term "electric car," my brain goes straight to the little Floridian wedge and then adjusts itself back out to things like Leafs, MiEVs, and Teslas. And there was a not-so-lovely pink Citicar for sale at that swap meet. (There was also a non-running Allstate Jetsweep like Bo Diddley's that got away too, but that's another post.)

 EVAlbum.com has several entries for Citicars/Commutacars/Commutavans

Grizz and I went by a few times to check the Citicar out, but we never caught the owner present. The last time we went by, it had "sold" written on the windshield. And we were a little bummed. As time passed, the little bit bummed became the very bummed. "Hey Grizz, do you remember that time we had a chance to buy that Citicar?" Grizz sighs and shakes his head. It's not often that you have a chance to bring the archetype home. Through a lack of persistence (and a fear of the look on our wives' faces), we let the little electric doorstop get away.

On rare occasions, I post a Vintage Electric Car Profile, and they are pretty popular. The little Zagato gets a fair amount of traffic, so does the Kewet. I usually feel a little fraudulent when I post things like those. I have never actually seen a Kewet or a Zagato. I've never seen a Kurbwatt (but I really want one!) And I realized today that I have never profiled THE vintage electric car - the Citicar, the highest produced American electric car until the Tesla Model S came along. And I have seen one in person. I lay on the ground and checked out the motor mounted to the differential. My hands ran across the not-so-smooth pink paint. I stuck my head inside and checked out the rough and spartan interior.

Keith did not make it to coffee this morning. He told me that he woke up in the middle of the night and his mind swam with all the possibilities in building the motor for his next project - an old Vespa Rally. And I knew the feeling. I remembered a night where my brain swam with upgrades for the little, pink slice of American cheese: an upgrade to 72 volts, or maybe even 96 volts of lithium batteries, an Alltrax contoller, and what motor? How scary would the little beast be at 96 volts? Would it be fun to park near a gas pump and point and laugh at people? Would it do wheelies? Could it sneak up on cats and squirrels like the electric Vespa does? Would my poor wife dis-own me?

It's probably a good thing it got away. Like several other projects, it would gather dust in a corner. But I was that close! That close I tell you! Snagit, here comes another sleepless night.

May you find your green chariot of choice and give Mother Nature a break!