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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Need a Unique Ride? There’s a Smart Fortwo Kit Car for That


Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

Everyone, in one way or another, likes to feel unique. It’s the reason people slap garish 20-inch wheels on their sensible sedans, festoon tailgates with political slogans and other bumper stickers, and affix vinyl flames to their vehicle’s hood. The mindset is: that’s not just any car, that’s my car. 
For the ultimate expression of dissimilarity however, buyers can seek out a kit car. You build it yourself, and given that most people aren’t in the habit of building their own vehicles… you’re likely to be one of a very exclusive owner’s club.

For those at the wheel of an early Smart Fortwo, this is what you could be driving instead. Hailing from the mid-2000s, it’s called the Michalak C7 and it transforms the practical Smart into a lightweight coupe or roadster. It hails from Germany, and before you bash its looks, it does have a few interesting points going for it.


Namely, construction of the sports car is said to take just a few hours, rather than days, and you won’t need a lift or any welding equipment to polish off the build. All running gear and much of the car’s other core elements are lifted straight from the Smart Fortwo, apart from the C7’s tubular steel space frame and unpainted gelcoat fiberglass body.

All told, the finished car comes to a very lightweight 1,455 pounds in its simplest specifications, meaning owners can get the most out of those teensy turbocharged three-cylinder engines, though additional interior elements—a padded dashboard, waterproof seats—can also be added as needed. As far as styling goes, it’s surely showing its age, though it’s hard to fault the vehicle’s concept car looks and exposed front suspension.


Why consider one? As far as having something that the Joneses aren’t apt to drive, this ranks fairly high. It’s also vaguely reminiscent of the grin-worthy Smart Roadster, which sadly never officially sold in the US market. That said, the kit’s accessibility with the second-generation Smart Fortwo does merit investigation, as that generation was the first available on US shores.

Is it a bit weird? Surely. Is it for everyone? Not in the least. But in a sea of banal grey, white, and black modern sedans and crossovers, kit cars certainly buck the trend in a big way, and that’s rather commendable.