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Hi, after taking a few long trips in the motorhome towing a trailer with our CanAm in it, my wife and I realized that we need a transportation car too to get around.
The trailer is set up to carry my NASCAR (which is up for sale now), so with the CanAm there's a lot of extra room. But we need to keep the weight down.
My two choices were a Lotus Elise (I've owned a few older Lotuses in the past) or the Smart car. After some thinking, the Smart car is the best choice for weight/length/practicality.
It's only going to be used to zip around locally when we get into camp, maybe as a fill-in if my regular car is in the shop but mostly it's just a little low mile commute car.
We do want to keep it fun so a Cabrio or Convertible is our target, and reliability is key. I have enough other cars that need to be wrenched on regularly.
Air conditioning is a must. And yes, cost is important too.
Can anyone suggest advantages / disadvantages of different years? Any years or models to shoot for, any to avoid?
I've looked around Craigs List, any suggestions of other good places to look? Thanks!!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Hi, after taking a few long trips in the motorhome towing a trailer with our CanAm in it, my wife and I realized that we need a transportation car too to get around.
The trailer is set up to carry my NASCAR (which is up for sale now), so with the CanAm there's a lot of extra room. But we need to keep the weight down.
My two choices were a Lotus Elise (I've owned a few older Lotuses in the past) or the Smart car. After some thinking, the Smart car is the best choice for weight/length/practicality.
It's only going to be used to zip around locally when we get into camp, maybe as a fill-in if my regular car is in the shop but mostly it's just a little low mile commute car.
We do want to keep it fun so a Cabrio or Convertible is our target, and reliability is key. I have enough other cars that need to be wrenched on regularly.
Air conditioning is a must. And yes, cost is important too.
Can anyone suggest advantages / disadvantages of different years? Any years or models to shoot for, any to avoid?
I've looked around Craigs List, any suggestions of other good places to look? Thanks!!
As an update, been thinking about the smart car some more and casually checking around. I was a bit worried about the low HP, but then I started thinking about the favorite cars I've owned. Austin Healey Sprite, Lotus Europa, a couple of Fiat X1/9's Triumph TR3. All were well under 100hp and the most fun cars to drive. Far more fun than the high powered cars I've owned. So next week I get serious about the search for a good clean used one. - John
 

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Good luck in your search, John and welcome to the forum. Like you, I have loved 50's and 60's sedans and sports cars since they were new. I have owned many under 100HP cars and several over 400HP, Corvettes and street rods. There is something really special about wringing all you can out of a small Fiat, MG, Mini, etc. The smart is not a 50's car, but I have had a lot of fun from my 70HP Brabus coupe. It really reminds me of my old Fiat Abarth with rear engine and light weight.
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Good luck in your search, John and welcome to the forum. Like you, I have loved 50's and 60's sedans and sports cars since they were new. I have owned many under 100HP cars and several over 400HP, Corvettes and street rods. There is something really special about wringing all you can out of a small Fiat, MG, Mini, etc. The smart is not a 50's car, but I have had a lot of fun from my 70HP Brabus coupe. It really reminds me of my old Fiat Abarth with rear engine and light weight. View attachment 63946 View attachment 63947
There is nothing like a small, well engineered motor that loves to rev. I have owned numerous small cars over the years. Some were fun to use the power band up to the red line and some didn’t like to rev and weren’t even very smooth at higher revs.
 

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There is nothing like a small, well engineered motor that loves to rev. I have owned numerous small cars over the years. Some were fun to use the power band up to the red line and some didn’t like to rev and weren’t even very smooth at higher revs.
NIce!! I love the old Fiats. I remember one that looked just like that that was a regular in SCCA at Blackhawk Farms back in the late 60's/early 70's. I probably have some pics of it around here somewhere.
 

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Depending on your budget, SmartMadness has a Smart crossblade for sale (close to $20k last I asked). Essentially an open-air cockpit smart fortwo 450.
 

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Facebook Marketplace is the best place to find used Smarts. Everything is available on there. The 451 (2008-2015) is a fun little car, but the automatic transmission takes some getting used to. It's an auto with an electronically actuated clutch, and sometimes you find yourself head banging when it switches gears unexpectedly. Adds to the fun, imo.

The 453 (2016+) has a DCT automatic. Depending on your budget you probably want a 2016+ Passion Cabrio. They can come pretty loaded with heated leather seats, cruise control, auto lights and rain sensing wipers, etc. The options vary wildly. :)
 

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Facebook Marketplace is the best place to find used Smarts. Everything is available on there. The 451 (2008-2015) is a fun little car, but the automatic transmission takes some getting used to. It's an auto with an electronically actuated clutch, and sometimes you find yourself head banging when it switches gears unexpectedly. Adds to the fun, imo.

The 453 (2016+) has a DCT automatic. Depending on your budget you probably want a 2016+ Passion Cabrio. They can come pretty loaded with heated leather seats, cruise control, auto lights and rain sensing wipers, etc. The options vary wildly. :)
Thanks for the great info! As I dig into it a little more I'm learning a lot. Not sure if I want to get a lower cost one and see how I like it for a while, or jump in with a more expensive one. I'm not too worried about power since it's just going to be to run little errands while I'm traveling in the motorhome. But more fun is more fun!
 

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@NascarJohnny They're definitely fun, versatile little cars. But yeah they're not super powerful. If you're looking for a quicker micro hatchback, the Fiat 500 Abarth may suit you as well. Hard to find in automatic (which I assume if you're just looking for an around-town car), but they exist. Also available in cabrio form factor.
 

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@NascarJohnny They're definitely fun, versatile little cars. But yeah they're not super powerful. If you're looking for a quicker micro hatchback, the Fiat 500 Abarth may suit you as well. Hard to find in automatic (which I assume if you're just looking for an around-town car), but they exist. Also available in cabrio form factor.
Thanks. Stick or auto doesn't matter. But I need to get it in a trailer with a CanAm Maverick so size and weight are important.
It needs to be under 11 feet or I have to take out the workbench in the trailer, and as close to 1500 lbs as I can. So the Smart makes the most sense.
 

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@NascarJohnny - Fair enough. The smart is a great car. We missed ours so much after we turned in our lease that we recently bought another. You just can't stop smiling and appreciating the car when you're driving, and I've driven all levels of cars... used to have several higher end Mercedes and a Nissan GTR as well. The Smart is among my favorite driving experiences. :)
 

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Yes, I think I’d love one. As I said earlier, my favorite cars were all small cars. I used to use an Astro van for business, went through 2 of them doing 60k miles a year, the last one Had 350k miles on it when it gave out. I was doing high speed video for my business and I had many Pelican cases in the back. Gas was killing me! I went to the Honda dealer with the van and made the mistake of saying “If all of this will fit in the back of a CRV I’ll buy it.“ The salesman pulled up a Honda FIT!!! No way!! But it all fit! That was a blast to drive, I’d be in Salt Lake one day, up to Bozeman another, down to Denver, then Phoenix and home. After 15 years doing the slow motion video I retired finally. I hate going on a Can Am off road trip, getting into camp and no transportation. Often it’s too far out to get a rental and Ubers have been spotty. Sure would be nice to have the smart to be able to run errands, go to dinner in town, etc.
 

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I bought a 2014 Smart for the sole purpose of using in the National Parks and campsites. I pull it with a Small Class C RV and it pulls great. It's had a few issues like 02 sensor out and small stuff but is pretty reliable. I got all my towing equipment from etrailer.com, installed myself and enjoy it. I have a Jeep that I could pull behind the RV but the Smart is to simple to handle. I really like the little car and never thought I would own one but I do. I looked at a Fiat 500 and other small cars but glad I got the Smart. Hope that helps.
 

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@NascarJohnny - Fair enough. The smart is a great car. We missed ours so much after we turned in our lease that we recently bought another. You just can't stop smiling and appreciating the car when you're driving, and I've driven all levels of cars... used to have several higher end Mercedes and a Nissan GTR as well. The Smart is among my favorite driving experiences. :)
They are fun little cars. I like the fact that I can whip into small spaces and park. Mine gets good mileage, has AC, nice JVC radio I installed and is just plain fun to drive. At first the wife was a little hesitant, but I've owned a couple Harley's and told her your better protected than on the bike! I own a Jeep and the wife has an Audi Q5 and I tell her the Smart is a Mercedes Sports Car 😀 The Smart is a vacation car to pull behind the RV and we have fun with it. Took a little bit getting used to the auto shifting standard type transmission but second nature now. I do like the gas mileage I get with the little car. We recently spent two weeks in Yellowstone and she was just perfect for the park, gear in the back, tank full of gas and out for the day. What's really funny is everyone wants to check out the Smart. You can be at the gas station getting gas or parked somewhere everyone wants to check it out.😁
 

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They are fun little cars. I like the fact that I can whip into small spaces and park. Mine gets good mileage, has AC, nice JVC radio I installed and is just plain fun to drive. At first the wife was a little hesitant, but I've owned a couple Harley's and told her your better protected than on the bike! I own a Jeep and the wife has an Audi Q5 and I tell her the Smart is a Mercedes Sports Car 😀 The Smart is a vacation car to pull behind the RV and we have fun with it. Took a little bit getting used to the auto shifting standard type transmission but second nature now. I do like the gas mileage I get with the little car. We recently spent two weeks in Yellowstone and she was just perfect for the park, gear in the back, tank full of gas and out for the day. What's really funny is everyone wants to check out the Smart. You can be at the gas station getting gas or parked somewhere everyone wants to check it out.😁
That's exactly what I want it for. I have the Jeep TJ we pull when we're not taking the CanAm. But we want to do some cross country trips with the CanAm to explore trails around the country and there's room in the trailer for a smart. Plus it would be a blast to drive. We had thought about just taking the Suzuki DR but sure would be nice to have the protection, comfort, etc of a car.
 
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