Home » Attention Garage Rock And Weird EV Fans: You Can Be The Next Owner Of Jack White’s Tiny Electric Citicar

Attention Garage Rock And Weird EV Fans: You Can Be The Next Owner Of Jack White’s Tiny Electric Citicar

David James Swanson
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When you think of rock star cars, what comes to mind? Perhaps Jay Kay’s Lamborghini Diablo or the ZZ Top Eliminator? While those are both brilliant, the spectrum of musician-affiliated vehicles runs much wider than that. Several of indie rocker Jack White’s items are currently up for auction, and among them lies a gloriously weird CitiCar SV48 electric vehicle.

Jack White Citicar Rear

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Conceived by Floridian outfit Sebring-Vanguard, the CitiCar was a knee-jerk reaction to the oil crisis of 1973, a pint-sized electric commuter aimed at weaning America off of foreign oil. As you can probably tell, it didn’t. Still, it was the highest-volume American EV for decades until Tesla came along, which certainly says something about the EVs of its era. Meant for simply popping to the office or the shops, that’s exactly what White envisioned this thing to be used for, as per Third Man Records archivist Ben Blackwell.

Originally purchased by Jack White in the “early days” under the impression that employees would use it to make deliveries to local Nashville record stores in this thing…it was immediately clear that such an implementation was unfeasible.

Gee, I wonder why that wouldn’t be feasible? With a claimed range of 40 miles and a top speed of around 35 mph, the CitiCar just isn’t built for the pace of modern traffic. Oh, and if it sounds slow already, just imagine the effect that the weight of vinyl crates would have on performance, assuming there’s sufficient room inside the vehicle for them.

Jack White Citicar Interior

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However, even though the CitiCar didn’t pan out for record deliveries, it was put to use doing something it’s great at — promotion. I mean come on, this tiny, weird doorstop on wheels is practically a magnet for attention, and not the sort of bro’d-up fistbumps and ogling many enthusiast cars elicit. It’s small, non-threatening, and adorable enough that even non-car people like it. Although the CitiCar was operational during a 2014 promotional event, the car’s been mostly gathering dust in the Third Man Records warehouse since and is expected to require a recommissioning to be ready for the road. Eight six-volt batteries can’t possibly cost that much though, can they? Oh, and this particular CitiCar needs some bodywork, as the fiberglass coachwork is looking a bit like Swiss cheese. Hey, at least it won’t rust.

Jack White Citicar Front Close

It doesn’t seem surprising for Jack White to be into interesting American cars. The music video for “Lazaretto” featured a then-new C7 Chevrolet Corvette doing some donuts, and how could we forget The White Stripes’ “The Big Three Killed My Baby,” a song about the malaise and contempt exhibited by American automakers with a shoutout to Preston Tucker in its second verse? Plus, the Detroit Free Press reports that White also owns a sweet pair of Ford Broncos, one of which is a current-generation model tastefully customized with retro white accents, steel wheels, and a gorgeous tan leather and houndstooth cloth interior. As for the Citicar, Third Man Records archivist Ben Blackwell caps off the listing with some affectionate shitbox prose:

Bright yellow! Essential! Low mileage, we think! The Citi Car has literally left its mark as tire treads stained an impression on our high gloss yellow warehouse floor. Now it’s time to let it stain your driveway.

Well hot damn, I’m sold. Oh, and in case you’re looking for an electric car with a little more kick, Jack White is also auctioning off his personal 2013 Tesla Model S P85. According to the listing, it “Does not come with Autopilot capabilities, because that shit is crazy dangerous.” Right on.

(Photo credits: Everything But The House/Third Man Records)

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Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
9 months ago

Looking forward to the chainsaw to battery story

Thevenin
Thevenin
9 months ago

A few fun little factoids I’ve learned about the cheese wedge:

– That is probably not fiberglass. I believe the majority were made with ABS plastic body panels.

– The motor is a brushed DC motor which doesn’t have sealed commutators. As the brushes wear down, all that dust goes into the cabin. I can’t imagine it’s good for your lungs, but this was an era when people were too busy smoking asbestos-filtered cigarettes lit with leaded kerosene zippos to concern themselves with something as trivial as lung damage.

– The Citicar sounds exactly like a Fisher Price Power Wheels, plasticky rattles and all.

– Since the Citicar predated mass commercialization of the power MOSFET, they were a bit… inventive with the throttle. EVs of this era usually used rheostats (giant variable resistors) which was a lot like varying your power by applying the brakes. The Citicar instead used a three-stage switch, changing the series/parallel configuration of the batteries to change the voltage. If you want a speed between those positions, you’ll have to toggle between fast and slow like one of those video game escort missions.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
9 months ago

Jack White is also auctioning off his personal 2013 Tesla Model S P85. According to the listing, it “Does not come with Autopilot capabilities, because that shit is crazy dangerous.”

Oh wow, kudos to Jack White. I haven’t cared for him in a long time – love The White Stripes’ first three records, but he struck me as having become a bit of an asshole with fame and I lost interest – but this is some reasonable, level-headed shit right there. As a relatively high profile music star, his public opinions can have an impact, and it’s great that he’s making a stand on this, and being sensible about it.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
9 months ago

Holy shit this auction has some pretty cool memorabilia! The original springs used for the cover of Hand Springs is part of the lot (auctioned off with a signed copy of the split-single they’re fetured in!).

Then there’s some outright weird shit. Like the autopsy table. If I were the Feds I’d start monitoring whoever buys that, just in case.

FlavouredMilk
FlavouredMilk
9 months ago

There’s also a pair of coil springs he “found” in Detroit, used for the cover art for Hand Springs. You can see the part label on one, and from what I can work out they seem to be from a late 80’s GM G-Series.

https://www.ebth.com/items/13489355-jack-white-signed-hand-springs-vinyl-with-cover-art-prop-springs

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
9 months ago
Reply to  FlavouredMilk

that’s one of my favourite items in the lot.

Toecutter
Toecutter
9 months ago

If someone is going to put in the money to restore this, it would be worth spending the $2k or so it will take to throw in a pack of LiFePO4 batteries and a cheap ebike charger that will double its range while cutting out hundreds of lbs of weight, and make it into a greatly more reliable and less expensive to operate vehicle.

Last edited 9 months ago by Toecutter
Eggsalad
Eggsalad
9 months ago

I was discussing the potential purchase of a used Nissan Leaf with a coworker yesterday. I learned that he can buy a 2015-ish Leaf with 11 bars left on the battery for about $7K. I think that’s an astoundingly good value, if you’re the sort of person with the right set of needs.

Celebrity history aside, even if you got this CitiCar at the current bid of $2k, you’d be close to $7k by the time you got it restored and functional, and it would be a lot less useful than a Leaf.

Steve
Steve
9 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Can you get the $4k used EV tax credit on the leaf too?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

If you buy this you better not be into dating the big girls.

Detroit-Lightning
Detroit-Lightning
9 months ago

While I’ve kinda lost track of him musically over the years, Jack White seems like a good dude. Third Man Records in Detroit is a super cool place.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

Man my phone is crashing like a Tesla on autopilot. But id rather have Rolles city car from kounts kustoms.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
9 months ago

Jack White once called Elon “the Henry Ford of the 21st century”.
Now he’s bashing Elon and getting rid of his Tesla.
I guess he’s changed his stripes.

Last edited 9 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Rapgomi
Rapgomi
9 months ago

Henry Ford was a notorious racist & antisemite who hated unions and supported fascism… so his quote still works!

Ford_Timelord
Ford_Timelord
9 months ago

TBH Jack White is probably not the first or last person to change their mind about Elon.

Cyko9
Cyko9
9 months ago

I never noticed these things have a NACA duct in the nose.

Sid Bridge
Sid Bridge
9 months ago

I don’t think this thing would get you very far from the opera, much less to Wichita.

Kasey
Kasey
9 months ago

There’s a red CitiCar for sale near me for a few thousand. One of the batteries is dead and the interior is a little worn out but it seems in decent shape otherwise.

What me?
What me?
9 months ago

Forget about AC draining your battery, pressing the horn will already cost you a mile of range

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

Paint it silver, bolt a box on the back and it’s a… MicroCyberTruck!

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
9 months ago

If anyone buys this, I can tell that we are gonna be friends, and if you can find a way to actually drive it, then I salute your solution.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
9 months ago

Is fiberglass reparable like that? If so, does anyone have a wrecked Bolt or i-MiEV I can steal a drivetrain out of?

Chronometric
Chronometric
9 months ago

Fiberglass is imminently repairable. You need fiberglass sheet fabric, epoxy resin, and a brush. Wear gloves and respirator. Cut sheet to fit. Mix resin. Lay on sheet, brush resin, wait for it to dry. Repeat. Sand. Prime. Paint.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Yea what he said.

DadBod
DadBod
9 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Unless you are repairing a boat in Florida, then it’s “wear cutoff jeans and no shirt, smoke a Marlboro while inhaling resin fumes. Liberally apply Keystone to liver.”

CSRoad
CSRoad
9 months ago

I remember seeing an orange one of these things in the wild long ago, it was slow.
Somewhat appealing, good for an update with more modern electrics.
Torch may be able to provide DIY battery removal advice.
Looks like some more potential fun for someone with this Citicar.
How expensive can it be to fix it?

Matthew Humphrey
Matthew Humphrey
9 months ago

One vote for this over the Mini Ram Van and the big orange truck.
Call it Jimmy the Exploder.

Chris Stevenson
Chris Stevenson
9 months ago

I was trying to fit in a song reference, you beat me to it!

Matthew Humphrey
Matthew Humphrey
9 months ago

In theory:
“We’re Going To Be Friends”
In reality:
“Stop breaking down, Little Room! Why can’t you be nicer to me? I’m finding it harder to be a gentleman. Jumble jumble-Take! Take! Take! Wasting my time…I’m bound to pack it up.
There’s no home for you here.

I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
9 months ago

I would think “I would walk 500 miles…”

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