Smart Crossblade

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The Smart Crossblade grew out of the Smart Fortwo. This was dreamt of initially back in 1982 by the makers of Swatch watches; they figured that there was a market for cars that were, like their Swatches, cheap, colourful and fun to own. After many years an agreement with Daimler-Benz AG led to the production in 1998 of the first Fortwos which were meant to be the city cars of the future; small, cheap, economical to run and easy to park. They were all of these but it must have been terrifying for anyone driving them at any sort of speed in heavy traffic. Nevertheless there was a definite market for them and by 2015 over 1.7 million of them had been sold.

So far so good but in 2002 someone at Mercedes-Benz decided to create the Crossblade. It was certainly a brave decision.

The Fortwo may have been somewhat unstable and lacking in good solid safety features but then Mercedes-Benz made things much worse by removing the doors and replacing them with simple bars, taking off the roof and replacing the windscreen with a tiny Perspex screen, creating a vehicle that not only had the disadvantages of the Fortwo but which had practically zero weather protection and even less protection for the occupants in the event of an accident. It was certainly a strange -looking vehicle which no doubt appealed to the more extroverted city dwellers who felt it was more important to be seen than to be safe and comfortable.

Perhaps to avoid too many fatal accidents the engine was downgraded from the 1 litre three cylinder job in the Fortwo to a more conservative 600 cc one; this reduced the maximum speed from 92 mph to 85 mph but both of these speeds were hardly likely to be possible in any city in the world and neither of these cars were the type of conveyance you would like to be in on a motorway!

It wasn't particularly cheap either. Retail price was around £16,000, and it was only available with left hand drive. Manufacture lasted just a year before it was withdrawn, with around 2000 sold altogether worldwide.

It was a proud boast of the manufacturer that the car had no competition. It is easy to see why.