2000 Corbin Sparrow (Electric Car) For Sale

For Sale to AdventurerYellow electric three-wheeled car

2000 Corbin Sparrow

SOLD on June 20, 2005. We are in process of completing the transaction. This car is no longer for sale.
Asking US$7,995
At least two firm bids at or above this price have been received (as of June 15 2005). Further bids are invited before 16:00hrs PDT Monday June 20, 2005, as described in Terms below. Four bids were received overall: two below the asking price, one at the asking price of $7,995, and one above.

Located in Palo Alto, California, USA (postal code 94301). For more information, call Jim at +1-650-327-1721 or <sparrow.seller@jdlh.palo-alto.ca.us>.

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Table of Contents

Overview / Table of Contents / Gallery / Details of the Vehicle / Terms and Sale Information / FAQ / Resources


Click on any of the thumbnails below to see enlarged pictures of this Sparrow. If you would like to see details, contact me and I'll add them to the gallery sorry, gallery is now frozen.



Details of the Vehicle

Terms and Sale Information

(Updated June 20) SOLD on June 20, 2005. We are in process of completing the transaction. This car is no longer for sale.

(Updated June 20) This vehicle is for sale as-is. It is FOB Palo Alto, California, USA, postal code 94301. That is, you pick it up or arrange for delivery. Payment must be be Paypal, cashier's cheque, or some similar secure means.

(Obselete, updated June 13) The first firm bid at or above the asking price was received on June 13th. Further bids at or above the asking price are invited before 16:00hrs Monday June 20, 2005. To make a bid, please contact Jim DeLaHunt at +1-650-327-1721 or by email at <sparrow.seller@jdlh.palo-alto.ca.us>. At the specified time bidding shall close, and we will respond to bids and/or make counteroffers. We will consider bids based on the following four factors. They are intended to achieve a sale at a fair price, that will satisfy both parties.

  1. Price. Price must be at or above the asking price. We wish to sell for a fair price, and believe the asking price to be at the low end of the fair range. If the actual fair price is higher, we will see bids above the asking price. A bid that is 1% above the next bid has a small advantage. A bid that is 10% above the next bid has a large advantage. If there are multiple bidders that are interested in competing on price, then I am willing to set up some simple but fair auction, such as a Vickrey auction.
  2. Payment arrangements. I'd like to receive payment in a form that has less risk of fulfillment problems later on. A bid that offers payment by Paypal, certified cheque, money order, or bank draft has advantage over offers of payment by personal cheque. A bid that offers payment by cash is somewhere in between. My trust in your seriousness to follow through with payment is also a factor. Note: for buyers that are having a transport service pick up the vehicle, it is acceptable to pay $1000 or more as a deposit, with the remainder payable upon delivery of the vehicle -- I'm willing to reduce your risk too.
  3. Familiarity with the Sparrow. The Sparrow is a lot of fun, but it presents special challenges: managing batteries, driving a small light vehicle, conducting maintenance in the absence of the manufacturer. As I say in the blurb, it's "for sale to adventurer". An adventurer is more likely to be happy living with the Sparrow's strengths and weaknesses. A bid that demonstrates an understanding of what the Sparrow is like and how it is special -- a bid by an adventurer -- has an advantage over a bid that is naive about the Sparrow.
  4. Transport Arrangements. Transporting a 3/4 ton vehicle with a 20-mile range is a non-trivial undertaking. Transporting it hundreds of miles is expensive. Obstacles with transport will delay completion of the sale and inconvenience both of us. A bid that includes a clear and realistic plan for transportation has an advantage.

(obselete, pre June 13) On the evening of June 20, I will consider offers. I may contact one or more bidders with counter-offers. Once a bidder and I agree on a deal, we will make plans for paying a deposit of earnst money (or the full amount) and for delivering the vehicle. I will then notify the other bidders that their bid did not prevail. If by chance the sale falls through, I will select a second bidder, and negotiate with them for the sale. I expect that the sale will be complete by the end of June.

We will be open for direct offers during June 2005. To make an offer, please contact Jim DeLaHunt at +1-650-327-1721 or by email to <sparrow.seller@jdlh.palo-alto.ca.us>. For offers at or above the asking price, we reserve the right to delay responding for up to 7 days to see if competing offers come in. If there are multiple offers at or above the asking price, we may make counteroffers or arrange some mutually acceptible auction. We may require a deposit of earnest money from bidders, and from the eventual buyer.

Given that we have received an offer at or above the asking price, we don't expect to be considering offers below the asking price. For offers below the asking price, we reserve the right to decline the offer. If the vehicle hasn't sold by July 1, 2005, we will consider other ways of selling the vehicle.

If you are interested but aren't ready to make an offer, you are welcome to contact us and express your interest. We will add you to a notification list.


Q: What do you mean, "for sale to adventurer"?
A: Adventurous spirit, for two reasons. First, you will get a lot of attention and waves and smiles driving Eleduck. It feels like being a celebrity! You have to be willing to put up with the attention. Second, the Sparrow was orphaned when Corbin went out of business a few years ago. The owners have to band together to solve mechanical and design problems with the car. And Corbin didn't perfect the design -- there are some glitches that are annoying, though not safety hazards. You have to be ready to drive and care for a beta-test vehicle. :-)

Q: What has been your driving profile with this Sparrow over the last few years (e.g. short trips, long trips, everyday or part-time driving?)
A: It's been almost entirely short trips around town. Most of the miles come from twice-weekly 10-mile round-trips from here to South Palo Alto. Occasional expeditions to the Gunn High School area, San Antonio Ave, etc. (Sorry, this won't be very meaningful for people outside the Palo Alto area.)

Q: How far are you getting on a charge?
A: Range on a charge is a function of a) how fast you go and b) how willing you are to consume the batteries sooner. I can get 15 miles at 35 mph comfortably; 20 miles feels like it's getting close to a drop-off point. At 65 mph, I think range would be 10-15 miles for the same amount of charge. I work in downtown San Jose, 20 miles away, and I could make it there on a charge, and recharge at work. However, I prefer to take the train for my commute, so I haven't been commuting in the Sparrow.

Q: What is the top speed you're getting?
A: I've taken Eleduck on Hwy 101 at 65 miles per hour, plus some bursts faster as the traffic demands. It's comfortable at those speeds. I haven't probed systematically to see if the machinery imposes some higher limit.

Q: What are the upper limits on how far and how fast you can go?
A: Going farther or faster means consuming more charge, which means discharging the batteries more deeply. The batteries (13 Optima high-capacity lead-acid) are consumables. After a certain number of charge cycles they lose capacity and need to be replaced. If you are willing to consume the batteries faster, you can probably push these range numbers by 5-10 miles.

Q: How do you charge it? How long does it take?
A: Plug the supplied 110V cable into the car and into a 20V 110V 3-pin outlet. You need to be sure there aren't other loads on the circuit. We generally recharge the Sparrow overnight, so we don't know exactly how long it takes, but four hours is a good guess.

Q: How much did the car cost originally?
A: About $15,000 in August 2000.

Q: What are your overal thoughts on what the car is good for and not good for?
A: This is a great second car for an adventurous spirit who has a solo commute somewhere (to work, or in my case to activities). Second car, because it is designed to be small and energy-efficient, so it can't do certain things: carry passengers, or carry cargo, or go long distances. Solo commute, because this is what it's designed for: carrying one person and their briefcase and groceries with high energy efficiency and low pollution.

Q: Why are you selling?
A: We are selling Eleduck because we are moving to British Columbia, and we can't take her with us. Also, we've had her for five years, and experienced the adventure. It's someone else's turn. She runs well, and will be a real treat for the right buyer.

Q: How can I find out more about the Sparrow?
A: A very good resource is the sparrow_ev email list, available through Yahoo! Groups at http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/sparrow_ev/ . If you aren't familiar with the Sparrow, we strongly recommend spending some time reading the archive of that list to see what Sparrows are like. This is particularly important because the manufacturer is no longer in business.

Q: Where can I find a Sparrow dealer? How do I get the vehicle serviced?
A: The Sparrow was manufactured by Corbin Motors, which has gone out of business. Thus there are no Sparrow dealers right now. (Another company, Myers Moters, is rebuilding the Sparrow business using the assets of Corbin Motors, but they aren't yet selling new Sparrows yet.) The Sparrow_ev list can help you figure out how to do your own repairs, or find a mechanic who knows about Sparrows.

Q: I think your asking price is a little high. Will you accept $X (an amount below asking price).
A: I aim to sell for a fair price, and I'm confident that my asking price is fair. I already have one firm offer at or above my asking price. Also, Noel "Anbausa" wrote to the Sparrow_ev list that, based on his tracking of prices through evfinder.com, the price range to expect for Sparrows in working condition is $7500 to $9500. I have a number of enquiries coming in now, and I expect that one or more of them will be willing to meet my asking price.

Q: What is this battery monitor box? Why is it unfinished? What is there left to do?
A: The battery monitor box is a small plastic box with 14 holes into which you can insert voltmeter probes. It is intended to allow convenient checking of the voltages across all 13 batteries. Take a look at this picture of the box. The wires you see are intended to connect to some of the batteries. Other wires, not visible here but running into the back of the box, connect to the remaining batteries. The box is located in the back compartment, just behind the driver's seat. You can see it in the picture of the open hatchback, in the upper-left corner.

Q: You say, "Body has no major cracks or holes." What minor body damage is there? And what is that white blotch low on the front bumper where the left fender meets the center bumper part, in photo 612?
A: Yes, I did but that was reflexive caution. There aren't any specific blemishes that I was dancing around. In fact, I just drive the thing, I don't inspect it's bodywork, or even wash it. But I took a look around, and found the following minor scrapes. I think they all are legitimately minor.
    1. There is in fact a scrape in front of the left wheel (as you sit in the driver's seat). That is deeper than paint-level; the fibreglass is (very lightly) chewed up. You can see that in the photo 612 as a white blotch low on the front bumper where the left fender meets the center bumper part. I've taken a close-up of that area as Photo 727.
    2. There are a few nicks in the paint on the underside of the front, basically in front of the right wheel and extending to a lesser degree all the way across. It looks like dings from rocks that got kicked up, plus a little splotch of red, and easily fixable with touch-up paint. I have a close-up of this area as Photo 726. For both that scrape and the one in front of the right wheel, you can't actually see them unless you bend way over: when your eyes reach about 4 feet off the ground, you can start to see the scrapes.
    3. On the back left corner of the pizza butt, there is schmutz with a little bit of paint flecked off. Easy to fix with touchup paint. I have a close-up as Photo 724.
    4. I counted I think three stains -- black lines about 1-3 cm long and 5mm wide that don't rub off with a finger. There may be more that I missed. I expect that either more determined cleaning will shift them, or touch-up paint will cover them.
    5. Eleduck needs a bath! There's a light sheen of dust all over and road splatter all around her lower half. (update June 20, 2005: I gave Eleduck a nice bath. She is much cleaner now.)
Q: When is the license fee and registration due?
A: Eleduck's vehicle registration is due to the California DMV on or before Aug/24/2005, and the DMV is billing us $128 total. Since I expect the sale to close two months before this deadline, I'll let the new owner have the pleasure of paying this. :-)


My sales materials. May be useful starting points for others selling their Sparrows.

Creative Commons License
Copyright 2005 Jim DeLaHunt. This ad is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Private Sparrow owners are welcome to use this page as a starting point for making ads to sell their own Sparrows. Anyone is welcome to link to this page; please link to <http://www.jdlh.palo-alto.ca.us/pr/sparrow_for_sale2005/>.

Maintained by Jim DeLaHunt. Last updated 6/20/2005.
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