YORK, England — In the United States, the only Smart vehicle sold new here was the ForTwo (which got the axe in 2019 after being included in this publication’s Top 20 Dumbest Cars of All Time list a few years earlier). In Europe, however, there have been plenty of Smart models available to car shoppers since the first City Coupés hit streets as 1998 models. A four-door hatchback Smart hit dealerships over there as a 2004 model, and I’ve found one of those cars at a self-service scrapyard (that’s what they call them over here) in York, England.
There are but two American-style self-service wrecking yards in Great Britain, both owned by Dallas-based Copart, and I flew to England primarily to visit the one in York (the other is in Edinburgh, Scotland).
Just to be annoying, Smart’s official designation for this car was the smart forfour, all lower-case. Isn’t that adorable? It could be worse (see: Volkswagen up!, Chrysler’s TC by Maserati, Kia Cee’d, e e cummings), but I’m going to preserve my sanity by calling it the Smart ForFour in today’s
Junkyard Scrapyard Find. Have we all given up on writing MINI and LEAF in all-caps yet? Since the corporate overlords who own this publication still insist on using an exclamation point in their company’s name, maybe not.
Under the skin, this car is a Netherlands-built sibling to the 2002 Mitsubishi Colt. The Colt name was last used in the United States on Dodge- and Plymouth-badged Mitsubishi Mirages in the 1994 model year, but new Colts remained available in Europe through 2013 and the Colt name was just revived on a Renault Clio-based car. In fact, I shot a 2007 Colt a few rows from this Smart and will be sharing those photos in a future article.
In the UK, the 2005 ForFour was available in five trim levels: Pure (also known as Purestyle), Pulse, Passion, Coolstyle and Brabus. It was just the car for a smartly dressed Brit to set in the background of a selfie (probably at a futuristic 640 by 480 pixels) using a leading-edge candybar phone.
This car is a Pulse (as you’d expect, the trim level designation wasn’t capitalized by those clever Smart marketers), which was one step up the prestige ladder from the El Cheapo Pure but less well-appointed than the Passion.
It has the petrol-burning 1.3-liter Mitsubishi A490 DOHC straight-four, which means its MSRP with taxes and fees was £9,995 with the manual transmission. That’s about £16,916 in 2024 pounds, or $21,418 in 2024 Freedom Currency Units™.
This engine was rated at 95 horsepower. A turbocharged Mitsubishi Orion 1.5 with a ridiculous 177 horsepower was available in the ForFour Brabus, while the ’05 ForFour Pure had a miserable 64 horses under its bonnet. A Mercedes-Benz-sourced 1.3-liter diesel three-banger with 68 oil-sipping ponies could be had in the 2004-2006 ForFour as well.
A six-speed automatic was available at extra cost; this car has the standard five-on-the-floor manual.
By all contemporary accounts I could find, the first-generation ForFour was amazingly roomy inside when compared to its tiny footprint. Remember when Richard Hammond and James May spent 24 hours straight inside one of these cars?
An owner of this car donated to the Royal British Legion (there was once a Flanders Field poppy on this faded decal, symbolising the poppies that grew on the World War I battlefields of Ypres and Passchendaele in Belgium). There’s a great deal of history in the
junkyard scrapyard, if you know where to look.
Why did it end up here? A search of its MOT inspection records shows that its registration was still still good until October 9th. U-Pull-It York’s records show that it ended up in their hands on August 12 with left front crash damage and just 70,764 miles on the odometer.
Smart revived the ForFour name with a car based on the Renault Twingo, for the 2014 through 2019 model years.
You didn’t need bloodhounds when you bought the optional satnav in your new ForFour.
Is that an Angelo Badalamenti song?
That meter maid does look something like a milit’ry man.
Would American car shoppers have considered the ForFour?