- Infinite MPG
- Makes a Prius look like a gross polluter
- $50 MSRP
- Higher quality plastics than a Chrysler
- Some assembly required
- Disconnected steering
- Zero headroom
- No cupholders
Ruling: The perfect car for those who can’t qualify for a loan, are looking to downsize, or who are crack contortionists.
Don’t tell Hudson, Ohio-based toy maker, Little Tikes, that the automotive industry is in the doldrums, they’ll hear nothing of it. In it’s 30th year of production, the Cozy Coupe remains the best selling car in the United States. With over 457,000 units sold in 2008, the Coupe outsold both Camry and Accord, and with 10 million units sold since its launch in 1979, it’s in the top 20 of most popular cars ever produced.
Why? Well perhaps it’s because you don’t have to register, smog or insure a Cozy Coupe. Or perhaps it’s because there are no oil changes, electrical nightmares, expensive service intervals, knucklehead dealerships to deal with or any of that other nonsense. But the most probable reason for the Cozy Coupe’s popularity is its ridiculously low sticker price of $50. Talk about coming in at the bottom of the market. The Tata Nano has nothing on the Cozy Coupe.
Our first impression of the Cozy Coupe was its remarkably compact size. The smart car also got nothing on the Cozy Coupe. At a scant 20 inches in length, this machine can fit literally anywhere. Forget parking it in the garage, you can park the Cozy Coupe in your downstairs half bathroom. And at a featherweight 20 pounds, you can even park it in your upstairs half bathroom. Or how about in your coat closet? Talk about convenient. You can get your overcoat, briefcase and car all behind one door.
Unlike high performance gasoline-powered cars which use an Otto cycle engine for peak power at the cost of fuel efficiency, and newer Hybrid drivetrains which use an Atkinson cycle engine for peak fuel efficiency at the cost of power, the Cozy Coupe turns back the technology clock thousands of years for a far more established and reliable propulsion system – the Flintstone cycle.
Peak horsepower and torque is completely variable with the Flintstone cycle, which is unprecedented for any car in history. Depending on numerous factors not limited to the driver’s overall leg strength, cardiovascular fitness, coordination and motivation for injury, the Cozy Coupe can travel anywhere from 1/8 mph to a blistering 20 mph. Direction and speed of wind, slope of hill and malice of person pushing from behind can skew these numbers even higher.
But not as impressive is the Cozy Coupe’s handling characteristics. The steering is disconnected, quite literally, making the handling less communicative than a five-year-old playing Nintendo. But on the positive side, the Cozy Coupe features a shopping cart 360-degree turning radius, which really comes in handy when you get the Coupe awkwardly lodged in the bathroom between the wall and the toilet.
Braking performance was also dependent upon the driver, with the best 5 mph to 0 test results coming from drivers with quadriceps larger than 20 inches in circumference and shoes with Vibram rubber soles. Flip-flops fared the worst, as did one-legged occupants.
Fuel economy was unparalleled to any vehicle we’ve ever driven, as the needle didn’t move a single micrometer during the entire test period. The Cozy Coupe doesn’t have an EPA rating, but if it did, it would be ∞ city/ ∞ highway. If Detroit’s not so Big Three want to make sure they slam dunk the aggressive 35 mpg CAFE standard by 2020, they better start coming out with a direct competitor to the Cozy Coupe.
Build quality of the Cozy Coupe is exceptionally high, as evidenced by the millions of Cozy Coupes still roaming the driveways and sidewalks of America. It’s got to be pretty embarrassing for a company like Chrysler when the plastics on a $50 car you can buy at a toy store are more durable and scratch resistant than the plastics they put in the interior of a Sebring which costs 500 times more.
Although the interior is extremely spartan and tighter than a suitcase, once you’ve wedged yourself inside, it’s not much more unbearable than sitting in an original Mini-Cooper. The steering wheel is a classy three-spoke affair with a tastefully recessed horn button, but the horn is far from adequate. Regardless of how hard you punch it, the horn emits no more audible authority than the squeaky wimper of a canine chew toy.
The ignition switch is mounted on the dash to the right of the steering wheel, and uses Little Tikes’ new “Smart Key” technology, where the key can be pushed in and pulled out, but cannot be removed from the ignition. The ignition turns and clicks, just like an old Ford with a bad starter, ignition switch, battery or all of the above. But because the Cozy Coupe is powered by a Flintstone cycle engine, the ignition is nothing more than pure novelty.
Every Cozy Coupe has one operating door on the left side of the car, making for ingress and egress that aids and abets insult and injury for anyone stupid enough to think they can actually fit in the Cozy Coupe. Unfortunately, for all those international motorists who’ve grown up driving on the right hand side of the car, there are no current plans for a Cozy Coupe with a right side door.
Legroom is laughable. You’ll spend more time chewing on your kneecaps than you will stretching out in the Cozy Coupe. This is not a long road trip highway cruiser. The Cozy Coupe is best for short trips, no more than five to ten minutes in duration.
To help meet any potential NHTSA crash test safety ratings, the Cozy Coupe is now equipped with higher seatbacks and thicker A-pillars. Additionally, rear cargo capacity is generous, allowing for both a Capri Sun and a box of Animal Crackers to easily be stored. But we really would have liked to see at least 3 cupholders for added convenience. It takes a masterful contortionist to fit in the Cozy Coupe, but then requiring a bent body to reach in the back for a refreshment almost guarantees some kind of joint dislocation.
The Cozy Coupe takes a page out of the New Beetle design book, with exaggerated, tall ceilings and fat A-pillars – which does come at a cost of reduced visibility. But for those who can’t fit their head inside the Cozy Coupe to begin with, this is a moot point.
The Cozy Coupe also takes a page out of the mid-1970′s Lincoln Continental design book, with a rear trunk lid known as the “Continental hump” which proudly reads “Cozy Coupe”. By combining the fun, carefree design of the New Beetle with a disco-inspired, cocaine-binge, St. Louis-pimp appearance of a 1975 Continental, the Cozy Coupe pulls off a most unnatural combination with tasteful aplomb.
This car costs $50. End of discussion.
Who Should Buy It
The most obvious target audience is anyone between the ages of 1 and 5 years old, but of course they’d wouldn’t actually be the person buying it. This is where the secondary target market comes in – the person buying it, most likely an adult, who may have just recently lost their job, can’t qualify for a car loan, has credit card debt out the yingyang and is looking for the least expensive and most fuel efficient car in existence.
The Cozy Coupe was born in 1979 during unsettled and uncertain times in America’s history, much like what we’re experiencing today. Despite the tumult then and now, the Cozy Coupe has endured 30 wildly successful years, and continues to bring joy and happiness to millions of children. But as families downsize their vehicles and budgets, the Cozy Coupe is perfectly positioned to expand its usefulness beyond the realm of daycare centers and 4-year-old birthday parties. The Cozy Coupe is positioned for automotive greatness.