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1998 Smart City Coupe
Manufacturer: Maisto
Release date 2000(?)-Currentlly in production
Catalog number: 9855
Date Purchased: April 2007
Date Completed June 2007
Number in collection: 4

The Smart City Coupe is a small, 2-seat commuter car sold in many international markets since the 1990's. It has only officially been sold in the US for the last few years. This model is an example of the first generation of the car, which was not sold here. I chose it as I like to include cars in my collection that are normally not seen in the US. I also like to buy cars that I wouldn't mind owning, or at least driving. This car is one of the few exceptions. I've never driven one, but I have sat in one at an auto show. It felt every bit as small inside as it looks from the outside. I have yet to read an overall positive review in print, as well

This scale model is made by Maisto, as part of their Power Racer series. Like all other cars in this series, it features a spring-loaded, 'pull-back' type of motor at the rear wheels. It does have nice exterior details and opening doors. The interior isn't bad, but the room needed for the motor intrudes into the space behind the front seats. As the actual car only seats two, This isn't much of a distraction. The wheels are in the style of the actual car. The chassis make it clear that these are intended as toys, as the have no detailing whatsoever. I guess a joke can be made that the motor offers performance that meets or exceeds that of the real car.

I originally worked on this car long before I started photographing them. The 'after' pictures were taken while I was originally writing this page.

Click to zoom Click to zoom
What I started with. Actual car I used for reference.

Disassembly was started by removing one screw at the front of the chassis that holds it to the body. The remainder of this process, as well as the resulting parts breakdown, is as follows:
  • Gently pry the rear number plate from the body. This what holds the rear of the chassis to the body, instead of the usual screw. The chassis can now be fully separated from the body.
  • The bottom half of the interior, with seat bottoms and console moulded to it as a single piece, in black plastic. Seat backs fit loosely into tabs in the seat bottoms. This assembly just snaps to the base chassis plate. The seat backs can then be removed from the rest of the bottom piece.
  • The front axle, with wheels and tires pressed onto the axle. This falls loose once the bottom interior is removed. I didn't see any way to remove the wheels from the axles without damaging them, so I stopped there.
  • The rear tires, wheels, axle and pull-back motor assembly. This snaps free from the chassis plate by carefully flexing the chassis until the motor pops loose. Once again, I didn't see any way to remove the wheels from the axles without damaging them or the motor assembly, so this is as far as I went.
  • A one piece black plastic chassis That has minimal and unrealistic detail cast to the bottom.
  • a steel spring that locates between three pins cast into the underside of the body. The purpose of this part is to allow the doors to spring back closed after being opened, and to hold them in place when closed.
  • The two doors, which are easily removed once the retaining spring is removed. These are painted the same yellow as the body, and have door panel detail lightly cast into the inside surface.
  • A black plastic dashboard and steering wheel. The steering wheel is glued the dash. This whole assembly has pins that are slightly melted over holes in the body that holds it in place. These bonds were carefully cut in order to release the part.
  • The clear windshield, rear window, and sunroof, which are moulded together as a single piece. This was carefully pried from the retaining rivets inside of the body.
  • The die-cast body, painted Yellow and black, with tampo-printed and adhesive-backed markings. Two clear plastic headlight lenses and a black plastic front grill are attached by heat applied to moulded-in pins. I cut these bonds and removed the parts.

After disassembling the car, only paint and foil were used to detail the car.

The following is a summary of the changes I made:
  • Wheels and tires: Sanded the tread surface with 220 grit sandpaper to simulate wear.
  • Chassis: Painted entire piece Testors acrylic flat black. Highlight the few moulded in details with Tamiya semi-gloss black. I left the pull-back motor attached to the chassis, as there was no need to remove and detail this part.
  • Interior: Painted all interior pieces a mixture of Testors acrylic flat black and flat white. Seat surfaces are a light gray, and the seat sides, floor, dash, and steering wheel are a darker gray. Remaining interior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
  • Windows: Highlighted the moulded in front and rear window wipers with flat black.
  • Body: Painted underside of body a mix of Testors acrylic flat black and flat white in the interior section, flat black everywhere else. Added quarter windows to the doors using clear plastic, with flat black used on frames, mirrors, and trim. Drew in body panel seams with a metal tipped 'quill' pen and black ink. Head lights, and tail lights, and turn signal repeaters detailed with Bare-Metal foil for reflectors. Tamiya clear red and clear orange and flat white are used for lenses. Remaining exterior details were highlighted with appropriate colors, using pictures of the actual car as a guide.
Disassembled parts, before reassembly To the left is the car prior to re-assembly.

The car was reassembled by reversing the procedure used to disassemble it. No glue was needed.

Pictures of completed car (click to enlarge)

The proportions of the completed car look very close to the actual car. The table below shows how close they are.

Actual car 
(mm / in)
(mm / in)
Dimensions of actual car based on model scale
(mm / in)
Calculated scale based on model to actual car
Length 2510 / 98.8 76 / 2.99 2508 / 98.8 1:33
Wheelbase 1820 / 71.7 51 / 2.00 1676 / 65.8 1:36
Width 1520 / 59.8 46 / 1.80 1829 / 59.4 1:33
Height 1560 / 61.4 48 / 1.88 1572 / 61.9 1:33

My calculations match the 1:33 scale moulded onto the chassis plate, except for wheelbase. I suspect that it might be off due to engineering considerations for the pull-back motor, but this is just a guess.

This is the first time I've really looked at this car in any detail since I bought it over six years ago. I'm generally happy with the way it turned out. I see some things I now do differently, but didn't want to apply them to this car. I was just getting back into the hobby at the time I worked on this one, and my supply of paint and tools at that time were much more limited than I now have. It's reminder for me of where I started, this time around.

This was a fun little car to work on. It's another one that I'm glad that I bought when I did, since it was probably not a good seller for Maisto, at least in the US. I had a difficult time finding information about it when I wrote this page. I found several for sale on Internet auction sites, with the majority outside of the US. The actual car will probably be remembered as more of a novelty due to its extremely small size, instead of offering any other outstanding features. It doubt one will ever have a place in my driveway or garage, but I'll always have a replica of it in my collection.

Liked what you saw? More cars can be found HERE .

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