Florida's Hopeful EV From The 1970s Is a Fantastic First Car

The cheese-shaped Sebring-Vanguard Citicar was an obvious choice for a first car for Simone Giertz, Sweden's most famous robotics enthusiast.

YouTubeSimone Giertz

If you don't know who Simone Giertz is, , and get your geek on. If, however, you're also not familiar with Commuter Vehicles Inc.'s Comuta-Car, let me take you back to the '70s right away!

Inspired by contemporary golf cart designs and the challenges raised by the first fuel crisis, the early 3.5-horsepower variant of the Citicar soon made Florida's Sebring-Vanguard the sixth largest auto manufacturer by volume after GM, Ford, Chrysler, AMC, and Checker. Talk about some crazy times!

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Built around a tubular chassis and powered by a 48-volt battery pack, the wedge-shaped Citicar soon evolved into a 6-horsepower monster, with Vanguard building some 2300 units until 1977. The design was then purchased by Commuter Vehicles Inc., who upgraded it further, launching the resulting machine as the Comuta-Car.

The Citicar was America’s best-selling EV since 1945 until Tesla Model S came along.
FlickrSteve Jurvetson via Wiki Commons

Before that transaction was complete, Vanguard also made an extended-wheelbase variant called the CitiVan. But it was Commuter Vehicles who finished the job, launching the 1979 Comuta-Van with swing-out side doors and a hatch back window, as well as a Postal Comuta-Van with sliding side doors.

To meet goverment standards for a USPS contract, Commuter Vehicles created a real beast with the latter. The Postal van was not only longer at 142 inches, but more powerful as well, hiding a 12-horsepower motor connected to a 3-speed transmission and a 72-volt battery pack.

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Simone's first car may only be one of the less powerful civilian Comuta-Cars, but it sure is the perfect first car for San Fransisco—as long as she keeps going downhill, and downhill only. Cheese Luise also happens to be very safe, sporting a 4-point harness, a hairy-chested parking brake, and the most advanced rear crash structure known to men in 1979. Supposedly.

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