This Town Car Ain't No Lincoln

What's an Urba Town Car, you ask?  It seems Mechanix Illustrated (yes people abbreviated that way long before Hip Hop) published plans for this car at some point, and is thus to blame.  This one of a great many odd, high MPG "build from plan" cars that sprung up in the 70s and 80s, alongside production attempts at hyper-MPG vehicles, such as the electric CitiCar and the gas-powered HMV Freeway.  The Urba Town Car, however, did have the unique distinction of being featured in the Governator film Total Recall!


If you absolutely must have one of these, you can either buy this one for something greater than $4K or you can take that old VW Beetle you have and send $95 to Robert Q. Riley enterprises (link here), which seems to have bought up all of the kit car/home car plans out there, including the Boonie Bug previously featured here.

If you want a weird oddity for neighborhood cruising and weekend shows that don't involve freeway trips, this could be just the ticket!  Top speed around 50 will keep you off the highway, however, and range of 70 will be a limiting factor.  The seller provides a good amount of info in the ad and warns that creativity is needed to keep this running, given the parts used to build it are from various sources and aren't always readily available today.  Good news is anything chassis-related is VW.

For pure weirdness, it goes without saying that we love this one.  We'd love to see someone take the original plans and add a range extender!

Click for eBay ad
Louisville, KY, USA
$4,000 with ZERO bids, reserve not met and 5.5 days to go


How can you not just NEED this, looking at the front end?


Here's another odd angle. Wait - they all are.


Batteries reside under the hood, in front.


Center caps recall movie link.  Are those Chevy S10 wheels??


A small car might fit in this area.  We have to assume there's storage under that hatch, as this model doesn't have the optional range extender.


Interior is nice enough, in a kit sort of way.  Apparently, the VW four-speed manual is in place, but there is no clutch; so you just shift.  That might take some getting used to.


The wood used actually looks very nice, although the interior is very "kit", given the lack of curves.


Yes, there are rear seats (sort of).


Apparently, these people are to blame.

Ad text:

This is a Urba Town car from Mechanix Illustrated magazine. The car was recently featured on the Bold Ride website, and all description can be viewed by typing "urba town car bold ride " in your search engine to see the full article.

This car and others like it, were built from plans from Mechanic Illustrated magazine. Anyone could buy the plans, for $19.99. The plans are still available but cost so much more. The original plans call for a donor vw beetle. At todays prices, it would cost around $8000 to build. (that includes the cost of the donor veh) . They built many of them for the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie Total Recall, but most of them were later destroyed.  Mechanix Illustrated was a primary source for guidelines on how to build hybrid and electric cars in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the plans were for pure electric cars, while others showed how to construct plug-in hybrids that mostly ran on grid-supplied energy, but also had a backup gas engine on board (not dissimilar to the Chevy Volt). The plans published by Mechanix Illustrated for its “Town Car” concept, upon which is this  creation, had a top speed of 55 miles per hour, and a battery-only range of 60 miles. When assisted by the gas engine, the range was extended to 100 miles. The real-world specs on this street-legal car are slightly different. Its top speed is 50 miles per hour; its range on a full charge is 70 miles, with juice supplied by 12 six-volt “golf cart” batteries. It has an 8 horsepower motor that provides a casual level of performance: zero to 35 miles per hour in about 15 seconds. The batteries are 5 years old, but are still functioning. I just replaced one battery.

Its funky retro design uses fiberglass and polyurethane foam build directly on top of a Volkswagen Beetle. But the cars design picks up  three feet of length and two feet of width on the vw chassis. The car seats 4 people comfortably. The plexiglass windows don’t roll down—to get some breeze, the windows are removed entirely. The interior wood is made from mahogany. The wood, trim and most of the wiring actually came from an electrical power plant that was being dismantled in Iowa. I have all the plan sheets and books on the vehicle. There are many special order electrical parts on the car that are no longer available. So when an electrical problem occurs, I have learned to adapt new technology parts to the primitive parts, or get lucky enough to find them on line. All of the chassis, brakes, transmission, axles, and steering gear is vw, so parts are easy to find. Lots of parts are hand made, but some are simply off of other vehicles: interior and exterior door handles, tail-lights, wiper motor. There is no heat or a/c, so it is a fair weather car. The power source is 12 six volt golf cart batteries wired in a series to an 8 horsepower motor. It uses the vw  4 speed transmission, there is no clutch, just remove foot from throttle and shift. It has an onboard 72 volt to 12 volt converter to run the lights, radio, signals, ect.  It has a 220 volt on board battery charger that was made in the late '70's. I have left the original charger in place because that is what it was born with. 110 volt chargers are available if you don't have access to a 220 plug.  It has an amp meter, and the thought of running out of battery power is part of the thrill of driving. It is super quiet to drive. I live next to a busy road where the speed limit is 50. I drive on that road sometimes, and people will slow down to take pictures or give me the thumbs up. Anywhere its driven, you have to plan an extra 1/2 hour to answer questions and let people take pictures...its great!!  Driving an electric car is a chance game, you go as far as you can til you reach 1/2 battery power, then you have to turn around. If a small gas powered generator was installed, the mileage range would be as far as you want. There have been a few times that  I haven't quite made it back, but the reserve power in the batteries will allow you to hobble along at about 5 mph for a short distance. I have always been lucky. I had an antique resistor fail about 15 miles from home, luckily I had a paper clip in the glove box, and after about a half hour of engineering, I was back on the road. I take it to car shows where it is an instant hit. It has been one of my favorite toys for many years, but now its time to go to another home.  Keep in mind, this car is a novelty. Its really not intended for daily use on todays fast paced roads. Its a fun neighborhood cruiser, or grocery getter. Car shows are a blast with it. There are a few small cracks in the fiberglass by the headlights. There were bubbles in the gel-coat on the passenger door, which was just repaired. There are a couple more bubbles, but they are easy to repair on this car. The paint is Chevorlet engine orange, so its very easy to come by. This would be a perfect car for the beach, or where it is warm most of the year. I have owned the car approximately 6 years. If you have any question please email me. This car is sold where is and how is. It can be inspected and driven most anytime.  You can also type  "urba town car" on your internet search engine to see more info on this car. The car was appraised for $6800 this past summer. State Farm has it fully insured for that same amount. I will take less than that amount because its almost time for a couple batteries to be replaced, and they are $80 each, so I adjusted the price accordingly.  Thank you so much for your interest!!

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