In this paper, a novel air-interface is presented for Fleet-Net1, a self-organizing network for inter-vehicle and vehicle-toroadsidecommunication. The air-interface is based upon the lowchip-rate version of UMTS/TDD. To adapt the cellular UMTS standard to an air-interface for ad hoc networks, changes of the physical layer, medium access control sub-layer and radio resource management are required. An overview of the required modifications is given here. Particularly, a decentralized synchronization mechanism is presented and analyzed by means of simulations. Furthermore, changes for the medium access control are explained in detail, which allow for an efficient operation in partly meshed networks and prioritization. Performance results of the overall system considering throughput and delay are derived by means of analytical evaluations and event-driven simulations. Based on realistic mobility models, it is shown that the presented solution provides a robust communication platform even in vehicular environments. The proposed air-interface is a cost-effective solution not only for inter-vehicle communication, but also for ad hoc networking in general, benefiting from the mass-market of UMTS.