Ownership Verified: One for the other foot? A French Impostor? - 2005 Smart Roadster Coupé

Matt2000

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Not content to let Loose_damnit have all the fun with early 2000s leaky 'good idea at the time' soft tops, I went out and got myself one of the smallest convertible sports cars ever built, breaking my record of only owning Land Rovers in the process. At just a whiff over 13cm longer than the old Cappucino it definitely fits in the category of tiny. As you know my sanity left me a long time ago so this all makes perfect sense to me!



After years of looking at BMWs, Volvos and other big cars with roadtrips in mind I decided to do an about turn and look the other way. Why get something big and heavy that drinks fuel when I can get something small and light instead that will be more fun in the twisties and will sip fuel? I considered my options: MGB, Triumph Spitfire and TR6 were all considered as I would still like a classic but were dismissed mainly due to cost, anything decent was way out of my price range and anything in it was, unsurprisinly, rotten. I considered the Fiat Coupe for a while along with the first generation TT but those would bite me in tax and insurance as well as being expensive to buy and I actually did want a convertible. The TT roadster has appalling boot space. S2000s are too expsensive, as are Loti and Caterhams are in another realm.

So anyway, I remembered that I've always really liked the look of the roadster and the prices looked reasonable, mainly because even the last cars built are around eleven years old now. Known for leaking with little power and even less luggage space it was perfect. It also fitted my desire to have something fun with a soft top that didn't break the bank and was at least a little quirky. I might've gone a bit overboard on that last point.

I wanted a coupe to get at least a usable amout of luggage space and it had to be in a dark colour: blue or black. The silver ones look odd in my eyes and I didn't want yellow or red as I'm going to have enough comments about what time I'm due at the salon as it is. I watched one come up for sale and then be sold, as I wasn't in a position to buy at the time but this this one appeared as a classified on eBay and I still wasn't in a position to buy it. It was up for a few weeks with no apparent interest before the price dropped slightly and I was finally in a position to consider it. Now everyone says you shouldn't buy the first car you see, even the owner of this one says he had looked at a dozen or so before buying this one two years previous, but historically I'm terrible at this. I bought my Series 3, Bugsy and Bob without having ever seen or driven an equivalent vehicle before. No change here then, as it quickly became apparent that the private owner was as much of an enthusiast as I was and has really focused on keeping the mechanicals in good order. The bills for work done back that up, with a full C service having been done 2k miles previously (82k miles overall), drive shafts replaced and rubber seals renewed to name but a few. I was sure after the test drive that I wasn't going to find one that was as mechanically pampered as this one, especially since there are only around 900 left on the road in the entire country. I feel like such a monster though, the kids had to say goodbye to the car and I even got a litle death stare from one of them. Damn cute kids. :lol:

I picked it up yesterday and got to enjoy my first drive home with the roof down, what a great place to be. I've been in convertibles before but it's been a while so I forgot how much you hear what's going on around you. Then I came up behind a tractor, towing a trailer full of cow shit. Well, there's one of the disadvantages of a convertible right there. As I said before this thing is tiny, yet somehow all six feet of me fit in it; I can even get out without using a shoehorn or emergency cutting equipment. I parked in a parking space yesterday as I normally would in Bugsy and you could've parked another car behind me...

Out one the road it's like a slighly bigger go kart, it really sticks to the road. The 'soft touch' sequential manual-automatic (I'll call Manumatic from now on) is nowhere near as bad as it has been made out to be, it responds fast to gear change requests in manual mode buy as it has a robotic clutch the changes themselves take time. It's no slower than a normal person driving a manual in a relaxed manner but there is no option to bang shift the thing. There's a technique for getting away from a standstill fast by making it dump the clutch but I'm not in a rush to wear out the clutch with that. It's no rocket and I sometimes look at the boost gauge and wonder if the turbo is just for show but the lack of weight means it still has around 100hp per ton and it could be remapped if I so wish. I shouldn't be left behind on roadtrips anyway, sorry to disappoint you. :p

Anyway, enough rambling and more pictures. Back to my favourite scenic overgrown overlook for some snaps.






It is, of course, furnished with an inside. Not much of one though.


"Enough space for a whole sack full of King Edwards."


It's a mid-engined Mercedes-Benz, honest. The engine cover was very hot.


Or is it rear-engined? I'm still not sure and who is that twat in the reflection?


Frunk with roof sticks (take that Pluriel)


Art work hung inside the frunk lid


So, to the inside. The driving position is... interesting, for someone six feet tall. The wheel is in here with me and takes up some space.


My left leg lives here permanently. I'd frankly be better off without it.


Passenger leg room is much better, strangely.


Dash is basic but functional. 120 is ridiculously optimistic. Digital readout in km/h is nifty, may be too small to be useful on the continent though.


This part of the basic dash is also basic. Radio won't see much use I imagine but I may still get an aux kit.


Dials for telling things. They were an option that nearly everyone selected, I really like the look of them. It has AC, but no gas. Not sure if I'll fix it as it's wasted with the roof down.


"Soft touch" gear selector is a little worse for wear.


Glove box is big enough for a glasses case and that's about it. Frunk release is still under here which is odd, no electric release.


Made in France, see!


There has already been some mild hoonage around the back roads, here I wanted to demonstrate the sound it makes by putting the phone on the back panel. It doesn't quite do it justice but I love the little roar it makes.


As you'd expect with a car I've bought there are some cosmetic jobs to do. You may have noticed the crack in the rear plastic. I got a spare with the car.


Both rear side windows are plastic and they're foggy so need sanding and polishing. Not clear (or is it clearer?) in these photos really.



The rear lid hinges are corroded, I can refurb them or buy ones that have been done.


The rear wheels, this one in particular, are a little scabby. I got a good extra wheel and tyre with it.


Both front wheels have been refurbed recently though and look great. I would've probably preferred the three spokes, maybe I can get some later on. Tyres are great and I should point out that this has wider tyres than the standard Roadster model, no idea why.


This bit of plastic is kind of ugly, might do something about it but it seems to be original.


I already have another post to make about luggage space but that'll have to wait until tomorrow.

You may laugh now. :p Oh and I don't have a name yet, any suggestions?
 
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WDWBen

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Bloody brilliant little purchase, mate.

Is there a top-down A/C mode? Living in FL, I vote for recharging the A/C because I use it ALL the time when I'm driving with the top down. Unbearable otherwise.
 

DaBoom

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I approve of these new random vehicle appearances. Also yay three cylinders!
 

RdKetchup

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DaBoom;n3549672 said:
I approve of these new random vehicle appearances. Also yay three cylinders!
I had not realized that it's a 3 cylinder engine, just like my motorcycle. And that the engine in my motorcycle is bigger :lol:

I approve of this choice :thumbsup:
 

thevictor390

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Love it! The legroom issue is probably because the car was designed LHD first :p
 

Conan

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You're Matt and you drive a black Smart Roadster Coupe. Are you Techmoan? :p

Very lovely car. Congrats!
 

Der Stig

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I like the statement you’re making- cargo shorts plus Smart Roadster lol.

As for name- Trixie the Topless Triple.
 

Matt2000

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I'm glad to see there's plenty of love for the Smart, I wasn't sure which way it would go. :lol:

thevictor390;n3549696 said:
Love it! The legroom issue is probably because the car was designed LHD first :p
Yeah I think that's the case. Silly ze Germans. :D

Conan;n3549699 said:
You're Matt and you drive a black Smart Roadster Coupe. Are you Techmoan? :p

Very lovely car. Congrats!
I've been watching his videos for years and it wasn't until I had already agreed to buy this one that I realised that he had one. Would you believe it, it's virtually identical to mine. That one has a trip computer, otherwise the spec looks the same.
 

MWF

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While a small part of me wonders why the hell you did this instead of just buying a decent NB MX5 the rest of me approves wholeheartedly. Can't wait to see it at Ringmeet and badger you for a turn behind the wheel.

This particular seal of approval is actually a walrus.
 

Eye-Q

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To be honest I like the roadster coupé even though I hate that there is no manual gearbox option at all which I usually strongly dislike. The car itself is very quirky and with a bit more power and about the same weight as DaBoom's and my Swift Cabrio I imagine it's a hoot to drive.

Approved!
 
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Matt2000

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loose_unit;n3549735 said:
Holy crap! That is awesome! :D Although lacking paddle shifters like the Ferra...Pluriel :D :p
Yeah I did want those originally, the first car I was watching on eBay had them. It's possible to fit them though and as they are just switches I've had some ideas of my own...

MWF;n3549740 said:
While a small part of me wonders why the hell you did this instead of just buying a decent NB MX5 the rest of me approves wholeheartedly. Can't wait to see it at Ringmeet and badger you for a turn behind the wheel.

This particular seal of approval is actually a walrus.
I have wondered that myself, I definitely considered an MX-5 because why wouldn't you but I've never been that much of a fan of the NB, I'd much rather go for an NA. The trouble with the NA has been demonstrated here and was demonstrated in its extremes at the NEC restoration show, they rust. I already have enough rust to deal with so I looked elsewhere. :)

It's definitely coming to the Ringmeet, I'm looking forward to the huge saving in petrol costs over the V8 and it should be a hoot on the track.

Speaking of Ringmeet, I still didn't know if my luggage would fit in this thing until Sunday. After using soft bags for clothes for years I switched to a suitcase because I was fed up of everything coming out like a dish rag, a small suitcase mind that is only just bigger than the carry-on allowance (stupid wheels take it over :mad:). This goes with my Quechua 3-man pop-up tent, which measures 77cm in diameter when packed away.

So here's the stuff I need to get in, doesn't look like much.



Once in the back though it suddenly seems much bigger! If I don't care about putting the roof down, the case can go here. It presses the flippy thing down which disables the roof.


The tent goes on top and the lid closes fine. It's full in there though! Cargo shorts making an appearance again. You can see why I went for the coupé now!



Right, so if I want the ability to put the roof up or down I can do this:


And it's nearly touching the glass already.


The tent has to slide in further which blocks the path of the roof, but I could just pull over, slide it back and put the roof down if I wish. It's even tighter though against the glass.



What if I put the roof down before putting the case in?


Not bad, and the tent goes right over the roof. The roof will go up if the tent is moved, but won't come down again because the flippy thing is down.


With practice, you too can be an expert at getting your finger in shot...


So it fits! Might as well try the frunk while I'm here though to see if that's any use...

Nope


Nope


Still nope


Talking with your mouth full noises


So there. It fits, or something. That reminds me I need to address that colour difference too, not sure how I'm going to do it yet...
 
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Eye-Q

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Matt2000;n3549776 said:
It's definitely coming to the Ringmeet, I'm looking forward to the huge saving in petrol costs over the V8 and it should be a hoot on the track.
Shotgun!
 

Labcoatguy

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:lol: Awesome! Is there a third wacky roadster on FG now that there's this and the Pluriel?
 

argatoga

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I must admit, I'm jealous of your spacious trunk.
 
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