Bits and Pieces
The most amazing thing about the Tango is its builder, Rick Woodbury, whose highest level of education topped out in the 10th grade. But that didn't stop him from conceiving, designing and building the Tango virtually by himself.
The Tango is essentially an interesting idea assembled from a variety of existing auto parts.
For example, if you look closely you might recognize the Tango's head light assembly. Woodbury said he went looking for a one piece headlight and integrated turn signal but most examples were too big given the car's narrow bodywork. The headlight assembly currently used on the T600 is actually the same as that found on the 1996– 2000 Dodge Caravan. Similarly, the taillights are the same units that used to grace the 1998-2004 Isuzu Rodeo.
Although the body is made of carbon fiber, the doors are actually from the now departed Geo Tracker. But Commuter Cars doesn't just slap them on and call it a day. The company re-skins both, but the door structure, interior panel, power window switches, arm rest and door lock assembly are all straight from the Tracker. And Americans take note: The Tango even has three cupholders.
Surprisingly, the interior of the Tango T600 looks somewhat plush despite the Geo sourced door panels. Much of the interior is covered with Alcantara. A 400-watt Alpine audio system with sat nav is included, and that screen becomes a monitor for the rear view parking camera. Also, you can plug in a Palm Pilot into the special port and get charging and performance info. A complimentary Palm Pilot is included in the car's price. We're sure they got those from Palm for a song...
While we didn't actually test the Tango T600's 0-60 time, Woodbury says it did the sprint in 3.8 seconds at a Spokane, Washington area drag strip. We'll have to take his word for it but judging by our experience, we buy it. Torque is so abundant that the front end gets very light when you punch the accelerator. Stab the pedal in a turn and you can feel the light nose pushing wide.
At this point the Tango is really just a great idea that one man has been able to take to its logical conclusion. The downside is that the car is very expensive – more than $100,000. That's because each copy is basically a custom car. Additionally, Woodbury doesn't have an existing line of cars to borrow parts from – even with such a resource, Chevrolet isn't able to get the price of the Volt much below $45,000. Given that, it's easy to assume the real cost of a Volt might be double the asking price.
While the Tango certainly isn't perfect, the philosophy behind the car is solid – a smaller car for commuting and errands. Obviously, funding is a huge obstacle, but that can be overcome with volume. Recently Rep. Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) told the Huffington Post "We need a national manufacturing strategy" and President Obama has made the same point several times in the past. It's possible cars like the Tango will help accomplish that goal and at the same time creating a fun vehicle for the masses.