The only ashtray is on the driver’s door, leading to the assumption that the passenger doesn’t smoke. Opening the hatchback window exposes the 12-cubic-foot storage area behind the white vinyl seats. The owner states the capacity at six grocery bags. The top of the two-seat car is typical of its era — covered in white vinyl.
The new-car warranty from the Sebring, Fla., manufacturer covered the car for six months or 6,000 miles. If not for the time constraint, Mr. Kinney would have 5,883 miles left under warranty.
Safety was high on the manufacturer’s list because touted were the four-wheel hydraulic brakes, race track-engineered roll bars, lap and shoulder belt harnesses and, of course, the massive, energy-absorbing bumpers.
In literature from General Engines Co., the manufacturer, is a statement that the Comuta-car is best suited on roads where the speed limit does not exceed 50 mph. A cautionary note says the car should not be used on interstate highways.
An outlet on the right side of the car behind the door is where an extension cord can be plugged in and attached to any 110-volt plug for recharging the batteries in six to nine hours.
Some of the advertised performance claims can’t be disputed — such as the 0-to-20 mph in five seconds or the 0-to-30 mph in 15 seconds. Lock-to-lock, the steering wheel turns 3.75 times and the car can be turned in 29.6 feet.
Mr. Kinney, however, does question some of the “official” claims. “They say the cruising range is 50 miles. I’ve never gotten more than 12 miles. They say ‘full throttle’ cruising can be done at 35 to 38 miles per hour. I’ve done 35 and it’s scary.”
Nevertheless, the little chariot never fails to bring a smile to his face when he is driving and pedestrians witness the phenomenon. Mr. Kinney has every intention of maintaining at least the current rate of usage that equals 22.5 yards a day.