1981 Comuta-car

More than Telsa? “Accounting for all CitiCar variants, a total of 4,444 units were produced up to 1979, the most since 1945 for an electric car assembled in North America until surpassed by the Tesla Model S.” Wow! It’s like owning a piece of EV history. I’m thrilled to have this 1981 Comuta-car as part of my car collection. This Comuta-car started its life in Sebring Florida, moved to Miami for many years, and it seems at some point made its way to Dayton Ohio, and landed in Lebanon Ohio for many years. It was driven from time to time, but for the most part, sat in a garage.

What the heck is it? A cheese wedge? Half a car? Is it even street legal? No, No, and Yes. It has a VIN, a title, and registered to be driven on the road. Of course, you can only expect speeds of 35mph and a range of 30 miles, so it’s destined for car shows for me.

Inspired by the fuel crisis of the ’70s, this often overlooked (for good reasons or mistakenly?) car manufacturer was started in 1974 in Sebring Florida, called Sebring-Vanguard, by Robert G. Beaumont. From 1974 – 1979 they operated as Sebring-Vanguard with the, “Citicar” and other minor variants until they were acquired in 1979 by Commuter Vehicles, Inc. At that point, they maintained mostly everything but morphed away from “citicar” and to “comuta-car” as well as creating a “comuta-van” which was used by the United States Postal Service.

In total, 4,444 units were created. According to a registry I found on a Facebook group, roughly 400 are listed on the registry. As you can see, these quirky little vehicles are not all that common and only a handful of ones exist, still able to legally drive on the road.

My 1981 Comuta-car has upgraded Trojan batteries, an upgraded charger, but everything else is mostly stock. It has all the features that were available at the time, including a rear opening radio and a dash-mounted radio. Like most of the cars in my car collection, I’m a purist. Ideally, I’ll keep this 1981 Comuta-car as true to the day it rolled off the assembly line in Sebring Florida, in 1981. I have some work to do on it, to iron out some starting issues, but otherwise, give me a honk and don’t run me over if you see me going to a car show!

Helpful documents I found on-line for Sebring-Vanguard, Citi-car, and Comuta-car:

Citi-car Service manual

Sebring Vanguard QA manual

Comuta-car battery maintenance

Citicar Owners Manual

Sebring Vanguard Consumer Information

Dealer Checklist

Comuta-car care and maintenance of the acrylic enamel finish

Comuta-car body