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Smart move for area car lot

Rayco Eurospec Motorcars in Kingston has pair of egg-shaped coupes popular in Europe.

Phil Cable of Rayco Eurospec Motorcars in Kingston shows off the two Smart fortwo coupes at the lot on Thursday. The vehicles are making their local debut and are Americanized versions of the fuel-efficient European models.

Times leader staff photos/pete g. wilcox

Jay Rauscher of Forty Fort takes a closer look at one of the Smart cars on the Rayco lot in Kingston during a walk on Thursday.

KINGSTON – The city car popular in Europe since 1998 is making its debut in the United States.

Rayco Eurospec Motorcars has a pair of Smart fortwo coupes on its lot and they’ve been drawing stares from passing motorists along Wyoming Avenue.

The tiny two-passenger hatchback that could be confused for an oversized egg has more room than you might imagine, said Phil Cable, Rayco general manager. “They’re very spacious in the driver’s seat,” he said.

Because the cars are “Americanized” versions of the European model, they are not considered brand new, even though they have only about 100 miles on them. Buyers will be the second legal owner, but will enjoy the full four-year, 50,000 mile warranty, Cable said.

Before they could be sold here, Smart cars had to conform to United States regulations. “It’s got air bags, ABS and all those goodies,” Cable said, and has been crash tested. “They’re totally legal.”

DaimlerChrysler, which manufactures the Smart car, has not yet authorized any new car dealers, said David Schembri, president of smartusa, a division of United Auto Group, the exclusive U.S. import distributor. Dealers will be selected in the second half of 2007 and a successor version of the Smart fortwo will go on sale in early 2008, he said.

That gives Rayco and other dealers a couple of years to fill demand for a car that can stretch a gallon of gas and attract lots of attention. That makes it a perfect a rolling billboard for a business, Cable said. Rayco also is an authorized warranty repair shop.

“It’s the most efficient gas car available,” Cable said. It has a three cylinder turbocharged engine and a sequential manual gearbox that can be used in automatic mode. “It’s not a stick shift, there’s no clutch.”

While there have been a lot of lookers, so far no one has bought. “Tons of people are stopping to see them,” Cable said. “We’re sort of dipping our toe in, too. We’re supposed to have a constant flow of them.”

GET SMART?

According to the smartusa Web site, about 750,000 Smart fortwo cars have been sold in 36 countries since production began in 1998.

Rayco Eurospec Motorcars, 755 Wyoming Ave., Kingston, is selling “Americanized” versions for $29,900.

To learn about the car, visit www.smartusa.com

To check out Rayco online, visit www.raycoeuro.com

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