Glenn Long put 10,000 miles on his little red electric car on the hills of West Virginia and got rid of it last year.
"I heard they were having trouble in the business there and was worried about getting parts for it," he said in a telephone interview from his home in Riversville. "I liked it, though, and now I wish I'd kept it."
Long, 63, made a special trip to buy the CitiCar from Aero Chevrolet in Alexandria, Va., which was the only place he knew them to be available. An electrical technician of Electronic Control Systems of Fairmost, W.Va., paid $2,750 for the car and drove it to work 12 miles a day. He often took it out when he did sideline work repairing neighbors' radios and television sets.
"Well, it was really nice in the wintertime. I put snow tires on it and it went up and down the hills real good, never slid or anything. I got 20 (miles per hour) or so on the hills, which is pretty good around here," Long said.
William Nelson of Arlington, a civilian controller-operator at the Washington Navy Yard power plant, had a different reaction. "I had it about two weeks," he said of his CitiCar, also bought from Aero Chevrolet. "It wouldn't hold any power. I can't believe anybody ever got 50 miles on one charge."
The brakes on the car glowed red hot, he said, and the doors fit so badly he couldn't use a hose to wash it. The shock absorbers were bad, Nelson said, and he could barely make the circuit from Arlington to Falls Church to Baileys Crossroads and back, a distance of about 8 miles, before the car ran down. "I bought the car for my wife, who's kind of short, because it appeared to be an easy one to handle . . . but I sure would never get another one like that," he said.
Long said he had to order spare parts from the Sebring, Fla., Sebring Vanguard factory at rates "a little more expensive than for my other cars," but had little trouble with the electric vehicle. A brake shoe he needed arrived within one week from the plant.
The car had only a 50-mile range so Long kept his Plymouth Volare and a Ford Econoline truck for longer expeditions. He said the electric two-seater cost him $1.50 a week to run, compared to the $2 per week for the Chevrolet Chevette for which he traded it in last year.
"I got $1,500 back for it from Aero (Chevrolet). Yeah, I'd buy another one if the price was the same. The new ones (Sebring Vanguard's proposed CitiCar II) is pretty nice looking but I don't know whether I'd like to go for that much money."
The new version, if the company reorganizes so that it can go back into production, would cost around $4,000, a company spokesman said.