For reasons I can’t remember, I recently stumbled across the operating instructions for the Smart Crossblade. In case you’d forgotten, it looked like a City-Coupe (Fortwo) that had hit a VERY low bridge.
It was, if you like, a Mini Moke for the new millennium, albeit without the endorsement of Brigitte Bardot. Instead, the Smart Crossblade could count a former resident of Stoke-on-Trent as one of its fans.
Robbie Williams took delivery of car number 008 in 2002 – one of just 2,000 built. “Wow, I just love this car. It’s innovative and unconventional, the two main qualities I look for in new projects,” said the former Take That star and Smart brand ambassador.
He wasn’t that entertained. Williams auctioned his Crossblade in 2007, by which time the car had covered just 113 miles. Bonhams listed the car with a pre-auction estimate of £10,000 to £12,000. Not bad, considering the Crossblade cost £16,000 when new. That’s the power of a celebrity endorsement.
Robbie Williams is to the Smart Crossblade what Princess Anne is to the Reliant Scimitar. Probably.
If you bought the ex-Williams Smart Crossblade, you could be sitting on a small fortune. An unregistered Crossblade is on sale for £30,000. [Insert quip about doing somethin’ stupid]
The Smart Crossblade wasn’t designed for a cold, rainy night in Stoke. In fact, it wasn’t really designed for the UK at all. So it might surprise you to discover that there are thought to be 58 Crossblades in this country. That’s 58 people we need to salute, because it takes guts to drive a car without a roof, windscreen or proper doors in a country where the weather is… changeable.
Instead of doors, you get a pair of steel safety bars, which swing upwards for entry, then downwards once you’re sat inside the four-wheeled roller-skate. Close your eyes and you’d swear blind you were preparing to ride Nemesis or Oblivion. Buying a Crossblade is likely to be cheaper than a day out at Alton Towers…
Top speed is a restricted 84mph – presumably because anything above this would be madness – and it could hit 62mph in a leisurely 17 seconds. Officially, the Smart Crossblade could complete the superyacht to casino sprint in the time it takes to prepare a vodka martini. You’d arrive shaken and stirred.
You’d also require some headgear with more protection than a Brigitte Bardot scarf. There can’t be many operating instructions that feature a sketch of a crash helmet and goggles, with the warning: ‘Danger of injury!’. Smart advised Crossblade owners to wear a suitable pair of protective glasses or a helmet with a visor.
The manual read: “Dust, rocks and other airborne objects could be thrown into your face, distracting and injuring you. This could ultimately lead to a car accident.” This isn’t something you’ll read in the instructions for the Nissan Qashqai. One has to wonder where the Crossblade driver is venturing to encounter rocks and ‘other airborne objects’. A riot, perhaps?
Curiously, you won’t find any goggles or helmets in any of the Smart Crossblade press shots, just a selection of what I imagine are hideously expensive sunglasses. Looking cool is more important than being protected from airborne rocks, DJ.
For some reason, the Smart Crossblade puts me in mind of Gandini’s brilliant Autobianchi Runabout. But while the Runabout was inspired by speedboats, the Crossblade was designed to provide transport for the owners of the mega-million dollar superyachts of Monte Carlo.
Is it cool? Well, it looks great on three-spoke alloys, the engine has been breathed on by Brabus, and you’re guaranteed to turn heads at Stoke’s Trentham Garden Centre.
Could it be magic with this crazy car from the turn of the millennium, or would you rather spend a cold evening in Stoke? You decide.