Recently I did a post of Eugene’s new Car2go service, and each one I shot included a CC. But none were as good as this pairing I just saw; I just had to share it too, given that they both have rear engines and a few other shared qualities. It also shows how tall the Smart is, and how relatively small the VW bus is, even though it could seat up to nine (twelve in a special high-density version).
Given how iconic the VW bus is in Eugene, maybe someone should start a Bus2go service.
My tribute to the VW Bus: CC 1965 VW DeLuxe Microbus “Samba”
What a neat pairing which gives us chances to compare and contrast. Portland’s Car2go has been around a bit longer so the cars there have a bit more patina and I have seen them in interesting places such as on rough dirt roads and other odd places. Also means scenes like this are common as well.
Wow. KInd of shocking that the Fortwo is almost as tall as the bus! Also, never realized how large the doors are–seems kind of at odds with its “fit anywhere” nature. Doesn’t do a whole lot of good if you can’t get out.
Very cool bus, also. Love the red stripe and red steelies.
For me, the most striking thing about smart cars is how narrow the front wheels/tires are….especially compared to the wide rear wheels. The smart needs those wide rear wheels to help prevent it tipping over, not that it still doesn’t tip over.
The smart was originally supposed to be “customized” by owners, like the watches of the same name, with spare panels.
Isn’t that a North America spec thing only? I seem to recall that European ones have the same wheels front and back.
Could be wrong though, I’m not exactly a SF2 expert 😉
Love that bus BTW, I can’t remember the last time I saw one that old in daily use..
Nope, European ones have different size wheels too. I believe the skinny front tires are to ensure that it understeers rather than oversteers.
I’ve always liked the rear-engined Volkswagen Bus. I used to know someone who had a 1975 VW Westfalia camper van when I was a boy. Although I would’ve preferred a water-cooled boxer engine, the air-cooled engine seemed to work quite well.
The Smart must be scary in icy/snowy conditions with such a short wheelbase, even with a rear engine for a little more traction. It is amazing it’s almost as tall as the Bus. I had a 66 Bus with those type of side windows, it was a rare Sundial camper conversion. This may also be one. It was really well done, much like the Westfaila with a full wood headliner, sink, ice box, fold down bed and cabinets. Wish I still had it today.
A friend has a 66 VW bus they are small for the amount of cargo/people they can swallow but horribly underpowered, A Stupid 4 2 is a terrible way to build a car they arent really much shorter than my hatch but can take far less passengers or cargo and get similar mpg without any comfort, no thanks.
The smart in turbodiesel form, as sold in Europe,(almost) makes cents because diesel fuel is so much cheaper than gasoline. Here in the U.S. diesel is MORE expensive than gasoline, so even a turbodiesel smart is a losing proposition. Therefore, about the only reason to buy a smart is that it is easy to parallel park. It’s not fuel efficient, it’s terrible to drive, and as you said…it has no storage space. And yet, I often see them on I-95 when I drive from Florida to D.C.
I think for some people they’re a sort of fashion statement. “Look at me, I drive a tiny fuel-efficient car, how hip and urban I must be.”
The funny thing is, for their size, they really aren’t that fuel efficient. You’d think they’d be pulling out 40, 50 maybe even 60 mpg. Our old Geo got 40ish I think, and it was a dinky, craptacular penaltybox as well. It is rated at 38 mpg hwy and 34 city, around midsize (i.e. an Accord or Mazda 6).
Its main advantage would seem to be the ability to park almost anywhere but that isn’t much of an advantage in much of the U.S. In my area, I can easily find space to parallel park an 05 Deville in the busy part of town. I don’t see much point to it, and it doesn’t look cool.
You can fit two tall adults in one, surprisingly. But, other than those two people you could maybe fit a briefcase case of beer in the back and that’s about it. Pretty useless and inefficient if you ask me.
Its definitely just a “status symbol” of some sort, but one I sure as hell do not understand.
Status symbol might have been a better way of phrasing my assessment of fashion statement…
Small size can be a real advantage, depending on the size and density of your town. My neighborhood (just outside of downtown Richmond, VA) is almost all street parking as it’s mostly row houses and small apartment buildings that, if they have any parking at all, is usually only a one-car garage on the alley. I don’t have any dedicated parking for my building, and let me tell you, finding any spot is a challenge, let alone one large enough to dock my boat, er, park my Crown Vic. If I had a smaller car I’d have a much easier time fitting into those rare spaces that come along, and that may influence my logic on my next purchase.
However I still think the smart just takes a good thing way too far. Ostensibly they’re short enough that you can park nose in to the curb in a parallel spot, but I tend to think you’d get a ticket for that around here.
Then you have to wonder what happens if you ever want to actually drive outside of such a city environment. At least you can gas it up anywhere, but I don’t think I’d want to be driving that thing on the highway. If nothing else, the ride seems like it would leave much to be desired.
The idea strikes me like the Nissan Leaf, neat idea and all but very limited in application.
But Howard all the other cars are sold as diesels too, so the Smart does not have any special advantage there.
I recently saw a bay-window VW Transporter that had been stretched to carry an open-wheel race car or similar, I will have to upload a photo to the Cohort.
Don’t often see a Smart in my neck of the woods, and I remember the first time because I split my sides laughing. Still don’t know what Mercedes were thinking – getting mixed up in tiny cars with the motor in the wrong place. Might have made sense in the 1930s, but not now.
I can’t say for sure but believe M-B saw smart as 1 way to “get it’s toe wet” in the small car end of the business. The smart would pre-date Mercedes own “A” and “B” class cars and the 1st gen A class was a bit like a better developed smart.
You do remember that Mercedes also owned Audi at one point?
The Smart predates the A-class? Really? The first A-class was something like 1996-97, wasn’t it? We never got it on this side of the Atlantic of course, and still don’t. (I know we didn’t have the Smart at its introduction either…) CLA is the first run of the A-class platform in North America, I think.
And when in the world did they own Audi?? I thought Audi had been part of the VW empire since the 70’s, if not earlier. They emerged from the wreckage of the Auto Union/Wanderer/Horch family if I’m not mistaken.
I think they were being developed concurrently. Then the ‘Smart Watch’ people pulled out of the JV with MB and the Smart became MB-only along with the A. Then came the elk…
A Class predates the intro of the Smart by one year. The Elk Test problems with the A Class caused MBZ to hold back the Smart intro until they modified it to be more stable, which in part explains its hard ride and the big difference between front and rear wheel/tire sizes. They wanted to make absolutely sure it didn’t oversteer.
I am just back from a week in Portland and saw these Car2Go Smarts everywhere. Perhaps it makes sense in urban, bike-full PDX but if I didn’t own a car, I’d think I’d want to take advantage of something larger than a Smart when I did rent one. Where I live ZipCars are common and usually Focii or Mazda3’s. BTW, Portland may not be Eugene, but it still beat the pants off my local Santa Cruz/Silicon Valley/Berkeley car scene, which I used to think set the bar for diversity and eclecticism. Though here in California I did see a Ural with sidecar, Peugeot 405 and a 2 door Dodge Raider all in one block last week.
I just got back from driving from L.A. to up near the Canadian Border and back again , the wild variety of vehicles in Oregon is wonderful .
I even saw a super rare moss model Ford Fairmont with opera windows on a flat bed , it was bark blue and had obviously just been pulled out of some dank & damp storage place , poor old thing ~ the whole right side was bright green .
I too thought that Typ II looks like a Sundial Camper Conversion , they were not at all rare back in the 1960’s & 1970’s , maybe now .
I wasn’t aware the SF2’s were horrible to drive , why so ? .