Electric Car Owners Club 
"Since 1982"

CitiCar History

1975 Vanguard Citicar in Manhattan (NYC)

Most Popular Electric Car Ever Produced

       By Frank Didik
       Copyright 1993

        According to what I have been able to piece together, the Vanguard Citicar was started in 1974 by a man from Connecticut who set up a factory in Florida. About 3500 VANGUARD Citicars were built from 1974 to 1976, most being built in 1975. The selling price in 1975 was about $4500. This was considerably more then the average gas powered car at that time.
  In 1977 the company is believed to have gone Bankrupt and was sold piecemeal at auction. The principal buyer at the auction was a mobile home manufacturer from New Jersey named Frank Flowers.
 He purchased most of the company in-tact but he did not purchase the trade name "Vanguard Citicar". In 1978 he proceeded to build a new version of the car using both new and existing parts from the Vanguard. He did not have an adequate supply of older 3.8HP GE motors and axles and he wanted the new car to be better then the old Citicar so he incorporated a higher HP GE motor (5HP) as well as a number of electrical improvements.

  The required safety and bumper crash standards had increased since 1974, he had to redesign the bumper and other safety systems on the car in order to be certified by the National Transportation
Safety Board. Though the overall shape of the new car looked like a CitiCar, there were many innovations and improvements in comfort including roll down windows, a hatch back, better seats, a
better heater, and, in most cases, an electronic control system. Since he did not have the copyright for the original name, he called the new car the CommuttaCar. As luck would have it, in
1978, America had the second major oil shortage of the decade which resulted in an immediate desire to have more efficient cars. The 1978 ComutaCar was an instant success and sold over 4,000 vehicles. The price for the ComutaCar varied depending on what size motor and other options it had, but the average price was $6,500. This again was somewhat higher then the average price of
cars in 1978.

  By 1980, several things had changed. People were no longer as interested in fuel economy and, perhaps more importantly, the National Transportation Safety Board had increased the requirements for certification. Though the CommuttaCar could have probably passed the higher standards that all cars in America must pass, the
cost for testing and certifying the vehicle line (from $150,000 to 2,000,000) plus the cost of insuring the manufacturer (from $150,000 to $300,000 plus about $1500 per car sold), proved to be the final death blow.

  The ComutaCar company continued to sell used ComutaCars, parts and new cars (for non-road uses such as airports, warehouses and prisons). I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Flowers a number of times between 1986 and 1988, the year he passed away.

  In 1986 or 87 he offered to sell the ComutaCar company for $150,000 plus various other provisions. Seabring auto-cycle purchased the company and started to build a new three wheel vehicle called the Zzipper which did not require such strict
certification as four wheeled vehicles. I understand that this vehicle had only limited success. In May 1992, a golf cart company in conjunction with several electric car enthusiasts purchased most of the remaining parts of the defunct comutacar.

NOTE:    A book entitled "The Lost Cord" was published several years  ago which covers the period of time between 1973 and 1976. Mr. Robert  Beaumont, the founder of the Vanguard Company (builders of the  CitiCar), gives a complete and detailed history of the vehicle from   his perspective. It is an excellent book and should be read by all   electric vehicles enthusiasts. February 1999 Frank Didik.

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