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Rare Rides: There’s a 2004 Smart Roadster in Brooklyn but It’s Mostly Useless

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By on December 29, 2017


What has three cylinders, a removable roof, and is technically illegal to own in the United States? Why, it’s the Smart Roadster, of course.

Come have a look at all the illegal plastic you can get for twenty grand.


Image: 2004 Smart RoadsterLet’s have some background before we get to how illegal all of this is. The Smart brand has made three basic models throughout its history, with electric and specialty versions of each. North America received the Fortwo, while other locales received the Forfour and the Roadster you see here.

Image: 2004 Smart RoadsterAfter the initial success of their initial model, the Fortwo (then called City Coupe), owner Mercedes-Benz sought to increase the model offerings for the brand and decided a sporty coupe was the place to start. (The Mercedes badges are not original to the car.)

Image: 2004 Smart RoadsterShown first at the Paris Motor Show in 2000, the roadster sat on an extended-length version of the Fortwo’s platform. It shared the same engine as the Fortwo: A turbocharged 3-cylinder residing at the rear and producing 80 horsepower.

Image: 2004 Smart RoadsterThe Roadster received initial critical acclaim and sales success, and even won Top Gear’s Fun Car of the Year award in 2005.

Image: 2004 Smart RoadsterPlastic construction and a diminutive size kept the weight down (1,742 pounds) and made the Roadster tossable driving fun. Unfortunately that plastic construction wasn’t very good at keeping out things like water.

Image: 2004 Smart RoadsterWarranty claims skyrocketed due to the water leakage, and would often end in repairs costing thousands of dollars. This damaged both the Roadster’s reputation and the willingness of Smart to continue manufacturing the vehicle. By 2006, Smart was ready to call it quits on the Roadster. After four years of production, a little over 43,000 rolled off the line.

Image: 2004 Smart RoadsterThis Roadster for sale in Brooklyn is a 2004 model, and features the solid removable roof panel and optional paddle shifters on the wheel. Imported into California in 2009, it has about 5,000 miles and a clear Florida title. Additionally, the seller exclaims via all caps that it’s all stock and original, but also has a Sawyer tuning chip to bump the horsepower to 100. Along with that clear Florida title, the seller warns that the Roadster is “For off-road [sic] use only, but do what you want.” It’s not a vehicle you can legally title in America, and won’t be eligible for the 25-year rule for a long time. Someone has played some importation games here.

$20,000 is a lot of money for a Mercedes-Benz go-kart, but maybe it’s worth holding onto until… 2029.

If you need a laugh, you can read more in the hilariously biased, poorly written, and unprofessional Wikipedia article for the Roadster.



Rare Rides: There's a 2004 Smart Roadster in Brooklyn but It's Mostly Useless

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