I am a big family car owner myself (A Vauxhall Meriva), but this post is about a car I have often thought I wouldn’t be seen dead in! But recently I am starting to change my mind. I am talking about the Smart car. Small, economical and cheaper than some big screen TV’s, they sell enough of these cars each year to make it one of the Worlds best-selling cars. but I am sure I am not alone in my loath for them. So let us find out if we can at least smile at some very customised versions of this very common car…
BONUS CONTENT: The Top 10 Facts About The Smart Car
10 – Little Tikes
FACT: Smart Cars are known to have passed the highest global crash and passenger safety test standards in the world making it a very protective driving bubble!
9 – The Salad Mobile
FACT: The Penske Automotive Group didn’t think it was going to sell that many and gave over the distribution, sales and marketing of the microcar company to Mercedez-Benz in 2011! More fool them I say.
8 – Work of Art
FACT: In the US, the Smart Fortwo is at the top of the list of most fuel-efficient, cost efficient cars on the market today, and also one of the cheapest electric ones!
7 – Covered in Grass
FACT: The third generation “Smart ED” or the Smart electric drive car launched this year (2013) and was the first electric car to be able to go over 100 miles on a single charge!
6 – Monster Trucks
FACT: Mercedes-Benz operates Smart under its patronage and only offers the Fortwo to the market, all the other models are done via third-party firms.
5 – The Tiny Tank
FACT: Why is a smart car, called a smart car? Because Smart was originally an acronym for ‘Swatch Mercedes Art’ before it was adopted as a neutral company name by MCC and Daimler-Benz! I love this fact.
4 – Gold-plated Smart Car
FACT: The Smart car came into existence in two halfs of a pea, and it wasn’t until the successful partnership between SMH (makers of Swatch) and Daimler-Benz happened that they could put both halfs of their experience and knowledge together and make it whole!
3 – His and Hers
FACT: While their owners know that a Smart car has great design and performance the reason 80% of their owners brought it was all down to money! After all, why spend hundreds on fuel a year when it could be costing a lot, lot less! Hard times indeed.
2 – The Small Rouge One
FACT: Do you think the smart car reminds you of something? Well, maybe it is because the original and unique design of the first model was backed by Volkswagen and was very loosely modelled on the VW Beetle!
1 – The Batmobile
FACT: While the main factory for manufacturing these Smart cars in Hambach, France they don’t have any offices there other than middle staff management, their main office work and company headquarters are in Boblingen, Germany!
Rich Nardiello doesn’t have full use of his left arm and shoulder, and he drags his left leg behind him. But that doesn’t stop him from painting and customizing toy cars for sick kids.
“It takes me a while to get them done," he says. “But it’s worth it when I see the smiles on the kids’ faces.”
Nardiello, 62, refurbishes discarded toy cars — specifically, those ubiquitous, bulbous yellow-and-red “Cozy Coupes,” made by the Little Tikes toy company that seat two and are powered by kids’ feet. He then donates them to children battling cancer.
Using paint, felt, sandpaper, disinfectant, and masking tape, Nardiello customizes the cars to a child’s specs. There was the Batman-themed car with a mask drilled into the top. A cowboy-themed ride, topped with a ten-gallon hat. A Cookie Monster vehicle covered in blue felt pieces, its little trunk filled with a few bags of Chips Ahoy! cookies. A handful of Captain America cars, painted red, white and blue. And even a New Jersey Devils-themed car — which was tough, because Nardiello is a Flyers fan.
“That kid really pushed me,” he jokes.
The grandfather of four calls his operation “PopPop’s Kustom Kars," which he runs out of the basement of the Sewell, N.J. home he shares with his wife, Connie. He has delivered 20 customized cruisers since creating the first in September 2018. And he has dozens of requests for more.
Which he loves — because this hobby has restored him.
In 2012, Nardiello suffered a hemorrhagic stroke that left him in a wheelchair with limited use of his arms and legs. He was also unable to form complete sentences. He faced months of grueling rehab in order to walk and talk again.
» READ MORE: Got a winner of a good-health idea? At CHOP, employees are given grants to bring them to life.
“I had to be defiant, I had to have a strong will,” he said, “or I would have died. In rehab, I saw too many people just give up because it’s so hard."
For motivation, he collected photos of sick kids whose inspirational stories had been shared with him. He tacked the photos onto a bulletin board that hung in his basement, right in front of his treadmill.
“How could I not run today when this little girl just beat cancer, and she’s smiling?” he says.
In 2016, Nardiello retired from his job in information technology and threw himself into his hobbies, one of which was restoring old Volkswagens. But the stroke had left him with limited use of his left arm, shoulder, and leg, and he soon found the work too laborious.
So he sold his tools, but he missed tinkering on vehicles. One day, he spied an old Cozy Coupe in a neighbor’s trash and decided to customize it for his Eagles-loving grandson, Vin. He painted it green and black, stuck an Eagles sticker on the front, and glued a helmet decal to the roof. Vin loved it.
Shortly afterward, he learned that a neighbor’s grown child had once battled neuroblastoma, a rare form of pediatric cancer. She beat the disease and would often regale family and friends with stories about the defiant kids she’d met in treatment whose never-say-die attitude had lifted her own spirits. So Nardiello decided to customize Cozy Coupes for such kids, who were the same age as his own Vin.
» READ MORE: Teenage genealogist has a gift for linking your past to your present
Thus was born “PopPop’s Kustom Kars."
“I used K’s instead of C’s to help it stand out,” he says.
He connects with recipients and families via referrals from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and two pediatric cancer-support nonprofits — Kisses for Kyle and St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
“He is just fricking incredible, this man," said Sharon Snyder, founder of Kisses for Kyle. “He connects with each family to show them that there’s love out there. He doesn’t have any ulterior motive, he just wants to do something good to put a smile on someone’s face.”
As for the Cozy Coupes, Nardiello finds them discarded in the trash, buys them used via Facebook Marketplace, and also accepts them gratis from families who’ve heard of his mission and feel moved to help.
But he won’t take cash — he finances PopPop’s Kustom Kars out of his own pocket. His past experience volunteering with hospitals and nonprofits opened his eyes to the politics that are often tethered to money-raising operations. He wants none of it.
“I went down that road a long time ago,” he says, his tone implying a world of past headaches.
For some older, bigger kids, he’ll transform bicycles. He’s working on one for a girl whose cancer treatment has required her to undergo 28 painful spinal taps.
“I thought I was a tough guy, but the stories get me every time,” he said. “They’ll rip your heart out.”
Nardiello keeps track of his masterpieces on a poster he has dubbed his “Warrior Board,” which features photos of the children with their new rides, marked with the date they received them.
He finishes one or two Cozy Coupes per month, spray-painting them in his driveway, working as fast as he can with one arm and a lot of persistence. And then he personally delivers the vehicles to the kids, with some exceptions: For a child in Georgia, for example, Nardiello deconstructed the car and shipped it in pieces.
Sometimes, though, a sick child doesn’t survive the wait for his or her customized Cozy Coupe, which has happened eight times, says Nardiello, pointing to the decorated cars in his basement that he never got a chance to deliver. He’s hoping to donate them to hospitals.
Meantime, his basement is full of Cozy Coupes, both finished and unfinished, parked neatly on the concrete floor or hanging on hooks from the ceiling. And he says he has room for more.
“I just hope my wife doesn’t leave me,” he jokes.
For more information about PopPop’s Kustom Kars, email Nardiello at [email protected]
I am a digital producer and writer of newsletters and human interest stories.
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In late 2013, your childhood memories got super-sized when UK custom auto shop Attitude Autos created a large, street-legal Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.
A Cozy Coupe is the iconic red toy car that can still be spotted sitting in driveways everywhere at homes with little kids. It was many a person's first pedal-powered vehicle.
The adult-sized Cozy Coupe is now available for a lucky buyer to take home. It's currently up for auction on eBay with a roughly $33,240 (£21,500, AU$45,722) price tag. Attitude Autos is selling its eye-catching creation for a set price, but it's willing to entertain offers if you want to try your luck at getting a better deal.
The Cozy Coupe started life as a 2000 Daewoo Matiz, a subcompact hatchback. It's had only 5,000 miles (8,047 kilometers) of road use during its life as the Tiny Tikes replica. It spent most of its time toodling around the UK visiting car shows and charity events. Attitude Autos notes it is "guaranteed to create smiles wherever it goes."
Attitude Autos will arrange to ship the car for the actual shipping price without extra fees, but potential American buyers should keep in mind that the car has right-hand drive. The original plastic Cozy Coupes have what you might describe as "center drive." That's one advantage of the big car: you can fit two people into it.
The Cozy Coupe has other specs that make it superior to the plastic version. Most notably, it can hit 70 mph (113 kph). It doesn't have a windscreen, though, so you'll need to wear a helmet to keep the bugs out of your face.
The Little Tikes Toy Car Is Now Road Legal And Can Go 70MPH
By Mark Lugris
The adult Cozy Coupe, which took 1,000 hours and cost £4,000 to build, can reach speeds of up to 70mph.
If you’re feeling nostalgic for the days when your car was a molded plastic Cozy Coupe, you’re in luck. The classic red and yellow car created by Little Tikes is now available for adults.
Geoff and John Bitmead have turned the toy car into a working adult vehicle. To create the car, the brothers used an old Daewoo Matiz SE 0.8 from 2000 and equipped it with a gas tank, airbags, headlights and mirrors. The adult Cozy Coupe, which took 1,000 hours and cost £4,000 to build, can reach speeds of up to 70mph.
The Bitmeads own Attitude Autos, which specializes in custom cars for TV and film productions. The company, based in Ambrosden near Oxford, UK, is set in an old army theatre. The idea for the adult Cozy Coupe originated when a staff member mentioned that he had motorized one of the toy cars for his son.
That same night John went home and began drawing the plans for an adult version, which he shared with his colleagues the next day. The car, built in 2013, took 16 weeks to assemble. To date, the car has traveled more than 7,000 miles to Peterborough, Southampton and Bournemouth.
“We had to cut the Daewoo in half to make it much smaller. Because of this we had to reinforce absolutely everything to make it super sturdy. The shortened length means that it now turns on a sixpence because of the shortened body, so it’s super agile and very easy to nip about in,” John said.
The toy version of the Cozy Coupe was designed by Jim Mariol of Cincinnati-based Design Alliance, who had worked as a designer at Chrysler since 1952, and engineered by Shirish Patel, Little Tikes' Vice President of Engineering, and Product Engineer Jon Fawcett. The concept, described as "a cross between a Volkswagen Beetle and Fred Flintstone's vehicle" was introduced in 1979 as one of the first molded-plastic toy cars sold in the US.
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In 1998, the New York Times called the Cozy Coupe the "world's best-selling car for much of this decade," outselling the Honda Accord and Ford Taurus. By 1991, the Cozy Coupe was selling more than 500,000 units per year, making it the top-selling model in the US. In 2009, Rakesh Patel, the owner of the very first Cozy Coupe, donated it to the collection of the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in celebration of the car’s 30th anniversary.
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Tikes car custom little
You could own the real-life Little Tikes Cozy Coupe car from your childhood
The one-of-a-kind car is now available for those who missed out as kids to bag for £3,500 on the Auto Trader website – just £587 more than a non-modified Smart ForTwo with low mileage, according to Auto Trader’s newly launched Price Indicator tool.
It comes stamped with the Little Tikes logo, googly eyes on the windscreen and the bold yellow and red bodywork which the original is identifiable by.
It also boasts a road legal version of the fuss-free transmission that Little Tikes Cozy Coupes are known for, thanks to an Automatic 0.8L Diesel engine.
And like many of the Little Tikes toy cars which rarely venture out of the back garden, this real-life version has relatively low mileage, with just 49,000 miles on the clock.
The vehicle even boasts a custom licence plate reading ‘L2 TYKE’.
The car had three previous owners, before being painstakingly modified and receiving its new look from a playful dealership in Bagstone, Gloucestershire.
Auto Trader’s Rory Reid said: “It’s an iconic car that’s played a memorable role in the childhood lives of millions of people over four decades, and now UK car buyers have the chance to relive some of these memories but this time following the highway code.”
“This car is marked as a ‘high price’ by our new Price Indicator, but the valuation doesn’t account for the uniqueness and quirky nature of this particular find. So for any adults who are still big kids at heart and interested in buying, we recommend they speak to the dealer to find out about all of its amazing details.”
The car is available from Autos Direct ltd, who can be contacted through the Auto Trader ad
Replacement Stickers Fits Little Tikes custom cozy coupe 30th Anniverary car
$6.99Buy It Now8d 4h, 30-Day Returns, eBay Money Back Guarantee
Seller:thetoyrestore✉️(3,335)99.7%, Location:Sumas, Washington, Ships to: US, CA, Item:232726065435Replacement Stickers Fits Little Tikes custom cozy coupe 30th Anniverary car. The Toy Restore Replacement Stickers for Little Tikes Tykes 30th Cozy Coupe Car This set includes: - Two-piece dashboard - One reflective mirror - One mouth - One generic license plate Please note there is no number plate included with this listing. Add a Custom Plate , just purchase this listing: at the same time as you order this one, and allow for an extra day or two for me to put it together for you You can add Custom Eye Color Decals Here Professionally made, with industry-standard equipment, from peel, rip, and tear-resistant glossy material, and machine cut for accuracy. These are 100% UV resistant for 4-5 years and are 100% waterproof. Thickly laminated so they will last for years outdoors, indoors indefinitely. My own copyrighted designs, which are inspired by the original decals that came factory, with the toys, and they fit accurately. All decals are cut separately for shipping. I have tons of decals yet to be listed, if you are looking for a different one, please email me. I offer a flexible return policy, so if they don't fit your project you can return them (in the same condition as you received them) for only the cost of your return postage. All designs are copyright protected © Melissa Jackson, The Toy Restore® 2012 The Toy Restore® is an independent manufacturer and is not affiliated with Radio Flyer, Little Tikes, Step2, Fisher-Price, Rollplay, Ikea or Playskool.Condition:New, Return shipping will be paid by:Seller, All returns accepted:Returns Accepted, Item must be returned within:30 Days, Refund will be given as:Money back or replacement (buyer's choice), Gender:Unisex, Model:Fits Little Tikes 30th Anniversary Model, Country/Region of Manufacture:Canada, Brand:The Toy Restore
PicClick Insights - Replacement Stickers Fits Little Tikes custom cozy coupe 30th Anniverary car PicClick Exclusive
- Popularity - 23,913 views, 18.4 views per day, 1,302 days on eBay. Super high amount of views. 175 sold, 0 available.
- Price -
- Seller - 3,335+ items sold. 0.3% negative feedback. Top-Rated Seller! Ships on time with tracking, 0 problems with past sales.
23,913 views, 18.4 views per day, 1,302 days on eBay. Super high amount of views. 175 sold, 0 available.
3,335+ items sold. 0.3% negative feedback. Top-Rated Seller! Ships on time with tracking, 0 problems with past sales.
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Yes, and the weekend, and. this is. - What. - Yes, the boys said, we have one doctor there. well, blue is shorter.