Years ago there used to be sort of silly internet memes involving Smart Fortwos and much larger cars. Someone would Photoshop a larger car into the size of a Smart, usually an exotic, and call it something like “Smorsche 911” or “Smaudi.” If you’ve been on the internet for long enough, you’ve probably seen them! Well, if you’ve ever wanted the real deal, a shop in Northern Ireland took a Smart Fortwo and turned it into a pint-sized Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. This is the Smartborghini, and it’s a $15,000 cartoon some of you can buy. Whether you should buy it is between you and your car-deity.
Reader Kevin C delivered this car into my inbox almost a week ago, but I haven’t been around to write about it. I’ve been obsessing over this Smartborghini ever since I received the email because it’s not often a Smart is chosen for a custom build like this.
The big thing in the Smart world right now is slapping a lift kit and big tires on a Fortwo and then taking it off-road. That alone is pretty sweet; I remember when I was one of just a few weirdos who saw the Smart’s potential as an off-roader. Now, it seems there are countless people picking up cheap, unsuspecting Fortwos and cutting them up into street-legal side-by-sides.
It’s An Older Meme, But It Checks Out
Long before this latest sensation, there was some interest in seeing Smarts turned into tiny versions of other cars. Search “smart car body kit” on your favored search engine and you’re bound to find tiny Smorsches, Smustangs, Smorvettes, Smerraris, and even a Smart Tank, many claimed to be body kits. Well, none of those cars were really kits or real at all. Instead, those pictures were Photoshops circulated as part of joke chain emails back in the late 2000s. They’ve been around the internet so long that I couldn’t even find the original creator. Sorry, but there is no kit out there to turn a Smart Fortwo into a baby Corvette C6 or a tiny Audi Steppenwolf Concept.
That hasn’t stopped tuning shops from trying. Back in 2004, Sweden tuner Thalondesign created the “Smart Eleanor GT 50%,” which looks exactly as it sounds like:
Look, I’m not sure what’s going on with the model, either.
Today’s custom Smart, first spotted by Carscoops, is the work of Northern Ireland shop Vale Automotive. The company is perhaps best known for selling a kit that transforms a Porsche Boxster 986 into something that looks like a supercar (below). Vale also appears to be working on a kit to turn a modern Volkswagen Transporter van into something inspired by the famous Porsche B32 Transporter.
To promote its business, Vale Automotive picked up a 2014 Smart Fortwo. The shop doesn’t say exactly which trim of Smart Fortwo was chosen, but nothing escapes my laser focus on Smarts. Looking at the singular shot providing a view of the gear shifter, I can tell you this car started life as a Smart Fortwo Micro Hybrid Drive (MHD).
Now, this sounds really cool, a hybrid Smart!? Well, not really. MHD models have a 999cc inline-three making 70 HP and 68 lb-ft torque. That’s the same output as we got here in America, but the engine has a different compression ratio than its American cousin. It also has a start/stop system that we also didn’t get in America. The Micro Hybrid Drive system uses a special starter-alternator to spin the engine’s serpentine belt, starting the engine back up.
The belts are notorious for snapping, and since it’s turning the serpentine belt, the water pump stops, causing an overheating condition in no time. MHD models are unpopular for this issue, as well as for being the least exciting engine option in Europe.
This European-spec Smart still comes with rear-wheel-drive and the controversial five-speed automated-manual transmission. However, unlike our American Smarts, which got an automatic-style PRND shifter setup, this one mimics a manual by having you move the shifter forward and back, mimicking a manual.
Anyway, based on the rest of the interior, this car was a Passion trim level before its roof was chopped off. In exchange for the lack of a roof, you do get a pretty custom leather and alcantara interior that Vale says cost £3500 ($4,312 USD) to make. Sadly, there isn’t even a tarp to cover the interior with, so this is a vehicle strictly for fair weather. I like how the factory radio and bug eye-like gauges remained, which gives it a look like something that could have been created by Brabus.
Wrapped around what remains of the Smart’s structure is a kit body that resembles a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. Much of Lamborghini’s signature design is there, but it’s been given cartoonish proportions. Vale even gave the car replica 19-inch Lamborghini Callisto wheels. Also notable is the fact that the lights on the body are fake. Like Lightning McQueen, this squished Lambo has stickers for lighting.
Vale says that the car was used for promotional purposes, racking up just 51 miles on its odometer during that time. Unfortunately, the lack of real lights means the Smartborghini isn’t road legal. Perhaps that’s part of the reason Vale put so few miles on its promo car before parking it up in its workshop for nearly a decade.
Now the vehicle is out of storage with new tires and a new battery. It’s up for grabs on eBay in Northern Ireland for about $15,000. If you wanted to make it road legal, you could slap some lights on it. In terms of safety, chopping off the roof almost certainly compromised Smart’s Tridion Cell safety structure. The lack of a real windshield or roll bar also isn’t doing it any favors. Thankfully, Smart’s seats do have their own integrated roll bars, but this is probably something you’d want to wear a helmet to drive. For Americans, the harder part would be just getting it across the border.
Either way, I love this silly thing. It’s like a Smart Crossblade, but for the adult who is still a kid inside. It’s like a Power Wheels for someone with a 401(k). This car is all kinds of nonsensical but in a good way. If you’re a buyer for this wild creation, you can find it over on eBay.
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Paging Mr. Humbert Humbert, your date is waiting for you in the valet parking lot.
I believe these are also real self driving. I saw one just like it driving around a closed Walmart mopping the floors.
Am I wrong to like this? Because I kinda do… It’s so silly it’s kind of awesome.
You’re not alone. I don’t want to own this thing, but I applaud its awesome silliness
I’m surprised no one made a kit to turn it into a real, low-slung, mid-engined sports car with really good aero and low mass in order to wring every bit of performance out of its power-starved engine.
Imagine if the roof was lowered to about 36″ and the rider and passenger were reclined, the thing lost 400 lbs and ended up with a CdA of about 0.3 m^2. Go to smaller wheels to balance out the proportions and lose an inch or two of ground clearance, in the name of improving cornering prowess. With some gearing changes, that meagre 89 horsepower could have its top speed exceeding 140 mph. And the weight loss would drop the 0-60 mph time to somewhere in the 8 second range. And it would be mid-engined, rear drive. Fuel economy on the highway would probably double.
Instead, we get these fugly kits that are a total mockery of the cars they mimic. I just don’t get the appeal. I’d rather have a plain old Smart ForTwo if given the choice.
Needs a better name. “Lambchop,” maybe?
At least nobody calls it Gallardo anymore, since it lost all that weight.
it’s a super super super leggiera.
Teenie Weenie ‘Borghini?
Then you could get a Ferrari counterpart and call it “Charlie Horse!”
The early 2000s happened to that model. It was the style at the time.
If you wanna be her lover, you gotta get with her friends.
They’ll tell you what she wants
what she really really wants.