Monday, June 30, 2008

It's one shell of a car

0 gallons per mile (unless it's a beverage) was the goal of the oxygen team. It's a one or two people powered vehicle made from an old subcompact. I'm not exactly sure of why the car body is used, but you can read more about it at

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Car in Exhibit at the Whitney Museum - NYC

Buckminster Fuller's innovative three-wheel car, the Dymaxion, is part of a Buckminster Fuller exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The Dymaxion was a concept car built in 1933 (actually, three prototypes were built) as part of a broader goal of Fuller's to improve overall living conditions. The car seated eleven people, got 30 miles to the gallon, and was able to cruise at speeds up to 120 mph. And the car was a huge departure from typical cars of the 1930's. The car steered with its single rear wheel, and could do a U-turn in its own length.

Unfortunately, the prototype crashed at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, killing the driver and injuring two passengers. The incident caused investors to abandon the project -- leaving it as an interesting footnote in automotive history.

At 20 feet long, and powered by a ford V8, the Dymaxion is hardly a minicar -- but we have a soft spot for any three-wheelers -- particularly one as unusual as this one.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Velorex: Microcar or Cultural Icon?

This certainly shows that the 250cc single-cylinder Jawa two-stroke in this Velorex Oskar has got some get-up-and-go to it.

The Velorex looks like a cross between an airplane and a motorcycle. It has a tubular frame with fabric skin stretched over it (like an airplane), with the rear wheel of a motorcycle sticking out the back. The Velorex, profiled in MINUTIA Issue 15 Number 3, was produced from 1951 to 1971 in what was then Czechoslovakia.

And...based on this music video, it must have been produced in sufficient quantities that it became a sort of a "cultural icon." I don't know if "waszlavik" is a popular group -- I'm not a fan of the music, but I like their choice of cars.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Many Minis (Mini Car Pictures)

In our club a minicar is something a little larger than a microcar. But most think of the word and the Mini comes to mind. In this picture we have a modified Mini. To see what's under that flip-up hood and a lot of other Minis - Click this link for many Minis

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Renault on the roof

Previously we've featured a car on a pole. If you don't have a pole handy and no room in your garage or driveway, just pop your excess collection up on the roof. This old Renault sits on top of an abandoned service station on the corner of Memory Lane and Condos Coming Soon Road.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Post-War Austin 7 Club - Winter Trial 2007

And here they are today.

The Pre-War Austin 7 Club (and several other UK-based clubs) continue to run their vintage minicars up some pretty incredible hills. Despite the age of these cars (some are on the high side of 70 years old), these Austins continue to perform. In the words of John Cameron Swayze, "They take a licking, and keep on ticking."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hagley & District Light Car Club Winter Trial 1948

The English have an interesting way of treating their sports cars. While enthusiasts in the States tend to exhibit their cars in "Park & Shine" events -- held only in the best of weather, the Brits seem to enjoy flogging their little cars -- in the mud.

Trials -- a uniquely English sport -- take place when the weather is "iffy," and on hills that would scare the faint-of-heart. Initiated as reliability trials, these events morphed into muddy hillclimbs, where the object is to make it to the top (through gates) without stopping.

And before you assume that these only took place in the past, keep a look-out for more videos on this site -- and for articles in MINUTIA.

Oh...and the significance to Microcars & Minicars is that the Austin Seven is one of the most popular cars for these events. Light weight, with a high-revving engine, they work well in the mud.

Car on a stick

I usually have things scheduled to post on this blog at 12:01 AM so it's up for a full day, but that's in a perfect scenario. This is the summertime when we're out working on our cars, going on vacation or just having a good time. I just got up and noticed that we didn't post anything today, so I found this image in the vast warehouse of
cyberspace. We recently featured several of these "cars on a stick" in our MINUTIA magazine. This one comes from Richard Donnan and it's located in Osler, Saskatchewan. It's a real Canadian roadside attraction.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Solar Bug (Electric Solar Car)

The Solar Bug is a rather wild looking modified ATV. It's an electric with the usual 35mph speed and a 60 mile range, which isn't bad. Solar panels in the roof give it an extra boost. You can hear from the Bug's inventor on

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Green Bubble (Modern Messerschmitt)

With the same seating arrangement and bubble top, is this what a modern day Messerschmitt would be like. Students and staff at the University of South Australia designed and built this GREEN bubblecar. It has better than average speed and range for an electric. See "the rest of the story" at the site -

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who Knew That Small Cars Were The Cars Of The Future...Popular Mechanics, That's Who.

The news is full of reports this week about a decline in auto sales, and about a shift in purchasing behavior. The almighty SUV is no longer the vehicle-of-choice. As a matter of fact, you can hardly give the beasts away. According to Bloomberg, U.S. vehicle sales may plunge to their lowest in more than 15 years this month as soaring gasoline prices leave dealers with too many big trucks and a shortage of fuel-efficient small cars, analysts said.
Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache stated, "Dealers report they are now suffering from a mismatch between what consumers want to buy (small cars), and what they have in inventory,'' (pickups and sport-utility vehicles).
While Popular Mechanics may not be viewed as a business publication, or as a leading indicator, the magazine noted long ago that when it comes to the American road, bigger isn't always better. Popular Mechanic's April 1954 cover story featured the Metropolitan—what was then the country's smallest car. Manufactured by Nash Motors (later the American Motors Corporation) and produced in Longbridge, England, the Metropolitan was designed to offer American buyers an economical transportation alternative. "It is, at least for this country where cars seem to keep getting bigger and bigger ad infinitum, a new approach to the personal transportation problem," PM wrote. Despite its small size, the Metropolitan passed a vigorous endurance test, running for 24 hours straight (stopping only to refuel and change drivers) on the Raleigh Speedway, averaging 61 mph and 41 mpg. It was perfect for short trips and driving in city traffic, PM noted, as a result of its diminutive size. PM writers never expected the two-seater Metropolitan to be "the family car of tomorrow," but compacts are quickly becoming one of the most important cars today.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Shop 'til you drop (Electric Shopper)

Here's a nice little number from the 50's. Check out that rolled and pleated interior and pinstriped fenders. This 1959 Electric Shopper was what the Electric Car Company of California was producing back then, well it was something like this, but I'm sure a bit more conservative. This little rod was for sale on the site a few weeks ago, but now that site seems to have disappeared.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Let's go shopping!!! (Towne Shopper)

The Towne Shopper was a little post war car that didn't get much past the prototype stage. A small two cylinder engine powered this vehicle put out by the International Motor Car Company. A wheeler dealer by the name of S.A Williams was involved in this and a few other schemes. For more on his endeavors and the Bobbi Kar and Keller Super Chief

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Minicars Turn Out At Guptill's

Guptill's (north of Latham, New York) is the site of a series of summer cruises. While the typical fare is muscle cars and hotrods, the crew at Hemmings attended the June Cruise-In and found several minicars in attendance. (Maybe $4/gallon gas is starting to have an effect on the car show circuit.)
The white 1948 Crosley Station Wagon wears the chrome nose cone and radiator bars that identify it as a late-1948 model. If Crosley's are your kind of car, don't miss the Crosley Nationals, scheduled for July 10-12 in Wauseon, Ohio.
And the two-tone (black & red) Mini sports a "AWHAT" vanity plate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Subaru 360 Rally Team To Run Liège-Brescia-Liège Historic Rally

Posted recently on Motor Trend Magazine's online site:

Four U.K. Subaru enthusiasts are teaming up to run the Liège-Brescia-Liège historic rally that covers 2000 miles of public European roads including Italy's Stelvio and Gavia Passes. The team will run the rally, celebrating its 50th anniversary, in two examples of a Subaru model also celebrating its 50th anniversary -- the Japanese automaker's original 360cc microcar.
The Liege-Brescia-Liege rally is the only International rally to be open exclusively to sub-500 cc cars and is known to be among the toughest automotive events for both drivers and automobiles. One saving grace of the current iteration of the event is that it will run its course over 10 days with time to rest, rather than the three-day, non-stop format of the initial running 50 years ago. Several countries are traversed in the course of the rally, including Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Slovenia. The event runs from July 11-20.

The Subaru 360s to be campaigned in the event are 1967 and 1968 models, each of which is equipped with a two-cylinder, air-cooled, two-stroke engine. Power, as expected, is modest: just under 20 horses. The newer of the two cars features a four-speed gearbox, while the older version makes due with just three forward gears. Both do without synchos in first gear and feature a "cruising speed" of around 50 mph -- as long as the road is fairly flat. Subaru 360s were in production for a total of 12 years, allowing for a production run of roughly 250,000 cars.
The two competing Subarus were located in Japan (the 360 was never officially sold in Europe) and shipped via container to the U.K. where they were restored and slightly modified for their 2000-mile challenge. Both cars feature modern radial tires, as well as modern shock-absorbers and new brakes.

What is the Subaru's primary competition in this microcar shootout? There are plenty of choices: the BMW Isetta, Citroen 2CV, and numerous Messerschmitts all seem compelling adversaries. But according to driver Craig Lawson, it's the car that onlookers tend to mistake the 360 for the most -- the Fiat 500.

"It only becomes slightly annoying when spectators guess it's a Fiat 500," says Craig. "That car in faster Abarth form won the original 1958 rally and there is a factory team entered for this one, so the Fiat is our key competitor."
Seems old rivalries die hard.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Some like it HOT (Crosley racecar engine)

The Paterson Museum in New Jersey had a show of "Midget Racers" and included in the exhibition was this supercharged Crosley engine. The powerful little Crosley engines were used in many midgets that raced on the small tracks around the country. Today their are still races going on with midgets, tq midgets (three quarter) and sprint cars -
(photo-George Bonanno)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

World's Fastest Crosleys (HOT ROD BOD)

Crosley is a name that has been associated with racing for decades. Sometimes it's that little engine that powers race cars, midgets or dragsters. Crosley bodies have also been seen on many dragstrips and at speed on the salt flats. It's a wild site seeing a Crosley burning up a racetrack.
and here's the new sporty Crosley 1010 from the record holder above -

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The First Saab Sonnett

When Saab Sonnett is mentioned, most people think of the sleek, sharp two-seat coupe that Saab produced from 1966 through 1974. These little fiberglass rockets were powered, first by a three-cylinder, two-stroke (the Sonnett II), and then by a 1500cc or 1700cc Ford V4 (the Sonnett V4 and the Sonnett III).

But there was a Sonnett that preceeded these models. The Sonnett I was first exhibited in 1956 at Stockholm's Bilsalong (auto show). It was a two-seat open roadster, with rounded fenders. Also produced in fiberglass, Saab only made six of these pretty little cars. (Just to confuse the issue, the car was originally called the Saab Sonnett Super Sport or Saab 94, and was only referred to as the Sonnett I later.)

More information on the Sonnett can be found at the Sonnett Museum.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Remembering Cheston Eshelman (Automobile Pioneer)

Was Cheston Ehelman ahead of his time, producing a car that got 70 mpg back in the 50's. I guess it depends on the way you look at the "car". With scrub brakes and a pull start, maybe he was just cutting costs for a more affordable means of transportation. In any case, he was in competition with King Midget and other small carmakers of the day. Our own Bill Hossfield is an authority on Eshelman products and met Mr. Eshelman some years ago. For more on the Eshelman cars and the man himself we've got an article for you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Trabant w/Airstream

This is exactly what it looks like. We pulled the Airstream out with the Trabant. We weren't going to get a full sized extended cab pickup back there and be able to maneuver the trailer very well to the outside radius as needed and I thought, "If we had a 4 wheeler I could hug the outside of the turn..." Well the Trabi held it's own with those 145-13 Karl Marx tires spinning a bit in the dirt helping to save the clutch. I got to get a picture of this rig on the road.

HOT ROD Crosley (with a 295 cu. in. Mercury engine)

At Bonneville you sometimes have to squint to figure out what kind of car was used to make some of the Salt Speedsters. And based on this Crosley Sedan that ran in the 1952 Bonneville Nationals, this has been the case for a number of years.

This sleek Crosley (imagine that..."sleek" and "Crosley" in the same sentence), featured on the cover of the January 1953 issue of HOT ROD Magazine was built by Dick Hubbard and Al Palamides of Oakland, California. The nose and belly pan were hand-formed aluminum, while the body came from a Crosley sedan -- chopped and lowered three inches.

The team went to Bonneville with three engines -- one Ford and two Mercs. The 217 cu. in. Ford took them to a record average of 131.96 in the "B" Competition Sedan Class, while one of the Mercs took second place in the "C" Class with an average speed of 149.93.

Look for more about fast Crosleys in an upcoming posting.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hungary for microcars (Hungarian History)

Hungary had a number of prototypes produced, and creative inventors like Rubik (of cube fame) working on them. The tiny Suranyi seen here is an example of the basic minimum in motoring. For a 2 part series go to -

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How About a One-Wheeled Car?

The Microcar & Minicar Club is a resource (and point of gathering) for people with interests in small cars -- specifically, cars powered by engines smaller than 1000cc's, and cars that are less than 11 feet long (some argue that it shoud be less than 10 feet long, but we're flexible).
And we have always included any three-wheelers -- even if they are bigger than the specs outlined above.
Based on that, we decided that a one-wheeled car would definately fit with the club. But who's ever heard of a one-wheeled car?

Well, there was a really interesting posting on Hemmings Auto Blogs last week that covered that very topic. It turns out that Charles F. Taylor of Golden, Colorado, decided a one-wheeled vehicle would be better on mountain trails than a four- or even a two-wheeled vehicle would be. And he went out to prove his theory by designing and building a series of prototypes of his one-wheeled car. Apparently he came up with the idea in 1939 -- and worked on his design and prototypes until 1965 -- filing patents in 1956 and 1964. To prove that he knew a little bit about what he was doing, he filmed his prototypes in action. Very cool!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Amazing Autocross Action -- with a MINI

The next time someone says something negative about your mini or know, something like, "Those little cars don't offer any performance," invite them to watch this YouTube video.
I'll have to be honest. I don't know how this guy does it. The car seems to be playing crack-the-whip with the cones, and it seems to defy the laws of motion. But it's very cool!

Morgan 3-Wheelers at Rhinebeck Motorcycle Show

The Morgan Three-Wheeler Club and the 3/4 Morgan Group U.S.A. will be out in force at the AMCA Rhinebeck Grand National Super Meet this coming weekend.

Last year’s meet was attended by a group of 3-wheel Morgans spanning the years from 1928 to 1938, and it is hoped there will be an even bigger turnout this year.

The Morgan Three-Wheeler Club is the worldwide club for owners and admirers of Morgan 3-Wheelers produced from 1910 to 1952. The 3/4 Morgan Group is the largest U.S. Club for both three and four-wheel Morgans.

When you are at the Rhinebeck Grand National Super Meet, stop by and say "Hello"!

For more information about the Morgans

Marc Wunderman
telephone 914-946-0896

Sunday, June 8, 2008

C'mon, drive your microcar to work on Friday.

Summer is upon us, so it's time to make the most of the warm weather. Get that car out and, why it to work. It may not be an officially-designated holiday, but we'd like to support the efforts of the folks at Classic Motorsports Magazine. They have designated the second Friday of each month as "Drive Your Classic to Work Day." And since most of our microcars are considered classics (Well...maybe the Smart Cars aren't classics yet, but it's only a matter of time.), we'd like to see you take those cars out of the garage and drive them to work. Your co-workers probably already think you're crazy.

This coming Friday, June 13th is the second Friday of the month -- and the official date for "Drive Your Microcar to Work Day." (Send us your photos.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Flying low (Aerocar of the Future)

Jim on the web put up a site dedicated to his father Howard Boys. Howard was an inventor and early advocate of the microcar. He built his own three wheelers and kept a scrapbook of others he admired, including the plane car you see here. Go to Jim's site to view an array of unusual vehicles along with his dad's own micro.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Why Are The Bad Guys Driving A Microcar?

The Sparrow is taking Joker for a ride in a car that looks suspiciously like a Pre-War Crosley. (The timing is right, since the strip appeared in 1945.)

It seems a shame that the bad guys are driving an economy car, while Batman's Batmobile is a giant "land yacht" of a car. It should be noted, however, that the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder didn't catch up with Joker and The Sparrow, as they sped away -- zipping between the anti-tank traps that Batman placed on the road to stop them.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Swallow - Orange at Beaulieu

What do an Austin Seven Swallow and an Outspan Orange have in common?
You can see them both, along with a variety of classics, race cars, customs and Mr. Bean's Mini at the same place.
Beaulieu - The National Motor Museum
That's in the UK folks - Take a look -

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Club of the month - Ariel Atom Car Club

Okay okay - Microcars and minicars are really supposed to be under 1000cc and a certain length, but sometimes we stretch the rules for special vehicles. The Ariel Atom has to be one of those exceptions. A hot little street driven racecar that has wild looks and performance. It's even got a club -

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Smallest Racing Car - Allard Atom

This photo, from Old Classic Car, shows the Allard Atom at speed on Wimbledon Speedway. Taken in October 1955, driver Cyril Brine is leaning out to see how high the front wheel will lift on a bend. Powered by a 500cc JAP speedway engine the car was claimed to be the smallest racing car in the world. Built by Wimbledon Speedway controller Ronnie Greene in conjunction with designer Sydney Allard, the little car had a 5ft 4in wheelbase and rear axle offset, to assist speeds on corners. No brakes were fitted and the only controls were clutch and throttle.
The Atom can be seen at speed on YouTube.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"No Big Thing" - Hot Rod Vespa

In an evening of Funny Cars, rails, gassers and "race what you brung" cars -- the crowd at US30 dragway was waiting to see something different...waiting to see if George Brugos would be able to keep his bracket racer, "No Big Thing" under control. And on those nights, from 1967 until the track closed in 1981, an unlikely dragster would rumble up to the starting line -- running a 454 cubic inch V8, and transferring power to the track through a 1959 Oldsmobile rear end and 1967 American Racing alloy wheels mounted with 15 inch wide, 32 inch high rear tires. The body of the car was hinged to flip up for access to the engine.

This car could best be described as a mouse that roared, but it was really a 1960 Vespa on steroids. Arguably yesteryear's most famous bracket racer.

Barry Reed, a former drag racer who now runs an auto parts store and videotapes drag races for television productions, is now the owner of this piece of drag racing history. The car isn't racing now, "It needs some front end work before it can be raced again," says Reed, but it is regularly displayed at meets and drag races.

Originally owned by Ringling Brothers Circus, the little Vespa was turned into a giant-killer by George Brugos in 1966. It passed through several owners after the closing of US30, until it was acquired by Reed. Reed raced it once in an exhibition, then put the car on the display circuit.

Story originally published in MINUTIA Issue 15, Number 3.
(Click the photo to be taken to a video of "No Big Thing" at US30.)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Trabant wannabe

It's easy to see what attracted me to the Austin A40 Farina. It looks like a cross between the Trabant combi and sedan. But in reality, I'm sure the 1964 P601 Trabant stole lines from the 1958 A40. Interesting how an Italian design for a British car ended up on a Trabi. But, that's were the similarities end. These cars couldn't be more different yet both very fun.

FIAT 500 Flip Top (Fiat 500 Convertible)

The fabulous FIAT fliptop is coming. It's been announced that the new FIAT 500 will be also in convertible form. I remember my 500 rollback top in the 60's and the ones in Fellini films, unfortunetly we here in the US of A will have to be content with those memories because it appears they won't be coming here anytime soon. Europeans enjoyed the Smart for years before we even got a glimpse of one. Gas misers like the original MINI and FIAT 500 would never pass our safety crash regulations today, like motorcycles do.
Thanks to the Motor Authority for the 500 photograph -