• Dec 8, 2006

Following the Smart Roadster's dismal sales failure, the rights and equipment to build it were sold to a British engineering firm called Project Kimber, which, as we reported earlier, will use the diminutive barchetta to resurrect the old AC brand. Although the first sketches didn't show much change from the Smart's design, Project Kimber has now released a new rendering of the revised car, featuring some differentiating design elements. Most obvious are the new front end and the Lamborghini-style scissor doors, which may or may not make it to production.

The AC will be built in both coupe and roadster body-styles at a site in the UK. Project Kimber is amassing a $65 million investment and has ironed out a deal with DCX for the Smart Roadster's original manufacturing equipment.

The rendering isn't much to go on, but considering some of the names involved – like Gordon Murray (of McLaren design fame) and John Piper (from the JCB Dieselmax land speed record project) – this should be interesting.

[Source: Motor Authority]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have a Brabus Smart Roadster and the semi-automatic gearbox really isn't that bad. You can't get used to it by just driving one for a short time, you need to learn it over time, took me more that 3000 miles to learn. Once you know how to drive it it's fine. Part of the secret is to drive in auto as though it was a manual, ease off the throttle as you press an imaginary clutch and imagine changing gear, then put the throttle back on. The action forces the car to change when you want to! It's weird and I can see why all the motoring press would not get on with it, they would have enough time for them to really learn how to drive it.

      Anyway, the AC version is going to be well cool with the gull wing doors. I tend to like automatics, but most European's prefer a manual, so I guess that's also part the reason for changing. A full automatic box is going to weigh more, and they're trying to keep the car light, 850KG or less. I've read that a large percentage of these is dependent on USA sales - so maybe an automatic will have to be an option. The price is rumoured to be up to £19K, if that's so then that'll push up the second hand price of my Brabus!

      It also looks like they've done away with the electric roof, which is a shame. I can raise and lower the roof at any speed up to 105MPH (according to the manual). With the rumoured panels they're going to put on you'll need to stop, remove, store, etc. What a pain.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Why am I getting the troubling feeling that, after taking a year to dress up the not at all bad looking Smart Roadster, they're going to end up charging far too much for it...

      The Roadster's problem wasn't the car as much as the horrible job DCX did branding and marketing the thing.

      The restyle is nice, but not if it results in the car being priced out of it's niche.
      Also, they should keep the manu-matic tranny at least as an option unless Kimber/AC wants to cripple potential sales from the start.

      And while they're at it, import the damn thing to the US this time.
      The Roadster would, in my opinion, sell better than the ForTwo we'll be getting.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow!

      Nice! The front reminds me of the classic Austin Healey Sprite MK I from the 1950s!

      Can't wait to see the actual car!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nill,
      have you driven a smart roadster before? I have and frankly the car was all nice EXCEPT the manu-matic which was absolutely horrible. It had the inconvenients of both manual and automatic transmissions with none of the advantages:
      slow shift (auto like)
      jerky shift (like a badly driven manual)
      At the time when I tried one it was to replace my suzuki cappuccino (it was RR of the day at one point) which is a very similar car, light wait 2 seater convertible with RWD and sporty pretention but small turbo engine. Because of the transmission I didn't get the roadster. (Since then I have had a Toyota MR-S and a porsche boxter 2.5, the cappuccino was the most fun of the 3 but of course the boxster is the best one all around, way faster, much more practical, more luxurious, more rigig, more refined, ...)
      • 8 Years Ago
      I just want the Smart roadster here in the USA! I want it fast and light with the electric roof if they could have sold it to the USA they would have sold many. I do not like the gull wing doors I'm 6' and the car is only about 4' and I park in spaces that the car next to you is only about a foot away so the gull wings do not work. Now where can I get one?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Yeah.it looks kinda like a stunned ,fearful version of the sprite because the the grille is upside down.(if cars had faces).
      • 8 Years Ago
      Of the thousands of Smarts running around up here in Canada, one of the across-the-board complaints about the car is the terrible jerkiness of the tranny. Web blogs are full of discussions about how to minimize it, but cant say I've ever seen anyone write in and say they like the tranny.
      IIRC, in 2008 Fortwo generation two (USA gen one) is getting a 5 speed semi-auto to replace the current 6 speed. Cant see why they'd change the 6 speed unless they knew it wasnt any good.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I came within a few seconds of buying a Brabus Roadster... until the gearbox and ludicrous price restored my common sense. They wanted £16k for a "sports car" that is really a nifty lively run around.

      I love it, I want one, but the price needs to reflect that it's "sportiness" comes from being small and ... errr... small.

      Last week, I read an article by Murray in a back issue of Evo that my brother in law left around. He was saying the above, that if it was him , he'd put in a cheaper nimble manual gearbox off the shelf, cheaper narrower wheels to make it more nimble, bin the weight of the power asssist steering (not required with thinner wheels). That would save a lot of money and a lot of weight, giving a faster more nimble car for less cost.

      That was 3 years ago, the guy must be able to look into the future!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here is the Evo link: http://www.evo.co.uk/carreviews/evolongtermtests/56574/smart_roadster_brabus.html

      And a news story predicting £12k to £19k... still a bit pricey. http://www.evo.co.uk/news/evonews/204592/smart_roadster.html

      I've also noticed that there are no pics of the rear glazed bubble version :(