Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hey!!! Pick on somebody your own size!

Britain's newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, has invited its readers to nominate and vote for the "100 Ugliest Cars of All Time." Results of their voting were reported last week -- 20 cars per day for five days -- with an appropriate drum roll leading up to the ugliest car of all time. (Not surprisingly -- the Pontiac Aztek was listed as the ugliest car of all time. It was interesting that the Edsel, a car that was the butt of jokes for years, didn't even make the list.)

We find it somewhat mean-spirited, that minicars were over-represented in the listing. Minicars that made the list included:

  • Trabant (16)
  • Citroën Ami 6/8 (33)
  • Reliant Regan/Robin (37)
  • Wartburg 353 (39)
  • Hillman Imp (45)
  • Smart fortwo (48)
  • Citroën 2CV (56)
  • Perodua Kenari (66)
  • Nissan Figaro (70)
  • Lightburn Zeta Sedan (71)
  • FSO Syrena (72)
  • DAF Daffodil (73)
  • Bond Bug (78)
  • NSU Prinz (82)
  • Renault 4 (83)
  • Citroën Visa (85)
Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. These ratings come from the same people who appreciate the humor of Bennie Hill and enjoy meals with the odd names of: kippers and mash or "Toad in the Hole". (And what's with Blood Pudding anyway?)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Berkeley Sets Record at Bonneville

A much-modified 1959 Berkeley set a new land speed record at Bonneville ten days ago on August 20th. "Bonner's Bad Berkeley" is a regular competitor on the salt, and conditions were favorable enough this year to allow Bonner Denton to put down a 298.983 mph run on the long course -- breaking the old record of 254.135 mph.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty excited when I can coax my Berk to exceed the speed limit.

(The photo was taken at Bonneville in 2002 -- posted on The Big Red Truck From Texas website. I'll post a follow-up with 2008 photos when they come online.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

We are the Champions (Microcar Literature)

That could be the title of this Champion catalog illustration. The German Champion 400 had a 2 cylinder 398cc engine, but todays feature is about this nice little catalog. If you don't have room for restoring and housing a collection of full size cars, gathering together some literature might be up your alley. The hunt for some elusive Scootacar brochure can be exciting. There are lots of hidden treasures out there, start your search.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Trash or Treasure: Minicars in the fields

I've been told on numerous occasions that it wouldn't make sense to run a "Rusting & Resting" column, because there just aren't that many cars out there anymore.
Well...if you go to "forwardlookguy's" site on Flickr you will see that there are plenty of cars out there. (Admittedly, some of them are in less-than-pristine condition.) Over 500 cars are pictured -- including many minicars (Crosleys, Metropolitans, Prinzs, and Renaults), so there are more than enough to go around.
The copy on his site reads:

All the vehicles in this set are for sale by Mack Waugh, 1640 New Franklin Road, Lagrange, Georgia. His phone number is 706-884-4242. He really wants to sell all of these before he has to crush them. Please call him if you are interested in something.
Who's going to be the first one to come home with a "treasure" from Mack Waugh's field?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's not a Fiat, It's not a Fiat, It's not a Fiat

Yesterday we featured a HOT one, today it's a stock one. We're talking ZAZ here folks. The kid seems to be frustrated, and wouldn't you be if everyone kept comparing your car to a Fiat 600. For more pics click -

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Red Hot Red Rod (It's a Fiat - NOT)

Looking like a modified Fiat 600 this Russian minicar is a wild Red rod. The Zaporozhets was like the Fiat, an inexpensive form of transportation for "the people". For a bit more information about other Zaz automobiles -

Monday, August 25, 2008

Venture One step beyond

The other day we had a leaning race car from years ago, here's one from today. But this is a modern machine that's a 100 mpg, 100 mph blast. The Venture One is part bike, part microcar and all fun. Taking a turn in this wild ride is dramatic to say the least. see more at

Sunday, August 24, 2008

1950's BMW Commercial -- Isetta

I've seen pieces of this commercial before -- but this is the whole thing. (I enjoy showing this to guys who are driving one of the top-of-the-line BMWs.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Three-wheeled Race Car...from 1947

Browsing through Hemmings Blog I came across a reference to a three-wheeled race car, and couldn't resist clicking through to see what it was all about.

The December 1947 issue of Modern Mechanix had a brief note and photo of the car -- complete with a description of how it "leans" into corners. If you read the comments to the posting, you will find no less than four references to similar leaning three-wheelers, from companies such as Mercedes and Piaggio -- so the idea isn't so far-fetched.

Friday, August 22, 2008

small sado sale (Microcars For Sale)

This tiny Sado 550 made in Portugal was for sale on a site that has quite a few mini and microcars. If you look around on the internet there are other sites besides ebay that feature interesting cars. In 1975 a group of engineers started "Projecto Ximba" to produce a micro subcompact. Several prototypes were made and in 1982 the Sado 550 started production. About 500 vehicles were produced.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Running on Vapors

Fuel Vapor Technologies is another company going for the big X Prize payoff. They are working on an electric hybrid and new technology in fuel delivery. It's another in the line of modern Messerschmitts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saab Owners Convention this week

Saab owners unite! This week is a convention of Saabs in New England - US of A. This is a nice example of the wind slippery styling of years ago. Check out more sweet Sweedish car info and meet dates at

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Maxi Minicar (Supersize Fiat 500 Monster)

The new Fiat 500 has been in the news lately and it's much larger than the original. We thought we'd feature a 500 that is even a step up. Here's a monster we saw out on the internet highway. And a Smart Monster -

Friday, August 15, 2008

What's the Connection Between Abbott & Costello and Crosley?

What is the likelihood that the comedy team of Abbott & Costello would choose Crosley's as cars for two of their movies?
Well...if you take a look at the Internet Movie Cars Database, you can find the two Crosley's that Bud and Lou drove. (A 1940 Crosley Parkway was featured in the 1945 film, "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood," an MGM film tracking the antics of two barbers who become Hollywood agents -- and a 1949 Crosley Wagon shows up in the 1949 film, "Africa Screams," a Universal film that puts Bud and Lou on safari in Africa.)
Coincidence -- or an early example of product placement?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Multi Tasking Mini (Minicar Furniture)

Yesterday we bought our Mini Messenger Bag, to be stylish when we're out and on the go. When we arrive at our workplace, be it at our vast corporate offices or our palatial home, the need to enjoy our workspace is imperative. The designer Glynn Jenkins provides the Mini connoisseur with the perfect desk. Or if you'd prefer to drive to work in your desk, try a street legal deskcar here -

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Marvelous Mini Messenger Bag (Minicar Style)

Whether hailing a cab in Piccadilly Circus, or bicycling through Birmingham this stylish "Messenger Bag" will be at your side. The designer Paul Smith has created a canvas companion to carry all your neccessities. With leather trim and brass hardware, you'll be ready for any occaision. Only $400 for a fabulous look.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Micro Trucks Publication: "Micro Trucks – Tiny utility vehicles from around the world"

Norm Mort, a Canadian-based microcar enthusiast has completed a book on micro trucks. We've corresponded with Norm in reference to several microcars -- but the author's description included on his publisher's site provides more on Norm's background:
"Norm Mort is a lifelong car enthusiast, and has owned a 1922 Vauxhall and 1949 Allard, amongst others. His first micro car was a 1957 Berkeley S328, and he currently owns a 1935 Morgan F2, 1958 FriskySport, and 1967 Reliant Regal. Norm began publishing feature articles on collector cars over two decades ago, and his freelance columns and feature stories have since appeared in magazines and newspapers across North America and Britain. Currently, Norm is a senior columnist for Canada’s Old Autos newspaper, and Canadian Auction Analyst, and feature writer for Sports Car Market magazine in the US. He also owns and operates a collector vehicle appraisal company."
Description from the publisher:

Interest and fascination in these novel cars has meant that Micro vehicles have become significant collectibles over the past decade, yet information published on micro trucks has been almost non-existent. Old brochures printed by numerous micro car builders depict various truck versions available. In the case of Iso everything from hook and ladder to vans to pickups were featured, but in many cases no examples were thought to have been built beyond the prototype stage. Full color photography, text and specs describe never before seen Iso production micro trucks, as well as featuring the changes necessitated in converting the production Iso Isetta into a micro truck. Rare Topolino Fiat vans ready for full restoration are also shown. Whereas very few 1950 Fiat 500 Topolino C Furgone models exist, there is only one known 1948 Fiat 500 Topolino B Furgone believed to have survived. For micro car enthusiasts wanting to expand their collection this volume includes the more commonly available micro trucks from Autobianchi, Vespa and Diahatsu along with helpful hints on restoration. Illustrated with 91 color photos, many of them of micro trucks you've probably never seen before.
The book can be found on the Veloce site, or on Amazon.

Monday, August 11, 2008

MINUTIA 17-1 is "In the Mail"

If you haven't received your copy yet -- it should be in your mailbox shortly.

This issue has some interesting "dirt" on minicars. (Actually, it is mud.) Don't miss the piece on Sporting Trials, and the article on campaigning an Austin 7 in Vintage Trials. (Read the articles and you will understand the reference to mud.)

And the issue contains much more -- including descriptions of some recent Microcar events, "how-to" articles, and a listing of upcoming Microcar & Minicar events.

If you aren't a member of the club, reserve your own copy of MINUTIA by clicking on the membership page of the Microcar & Minicar Club website. See you there.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Don't Forget: Mamaroneck Car Show -- September 7th

The Microcar & Minicar Club has arranged with the organizers of the Mamaroneck Kiwanis Antique Car Show to add a Microcar & Minicar class to the show this year.The addition of the class will allow mini and microcars to park together on the field (hopefully we'll be able to stake out a shady spot).Also, trophies will be awarded to entries in the class -- so Berkeleys won't be competing with Jaguars, and King Midgets won't be in a class with Mustangs.2008 is the 35th anniversary of this popular Car Show. As always, the show takes place on the first Sunday after Labor Day (September 7th, 2008) in Harbor Island Park, Mamaroneck, New York. If you are interested, post a comment to this listing, or send an email to: ed.minutia(at)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Long-Range Planning: Micro/Mini Car World Meet 2010

Get out your calendars...No, not this year -- and not next year either. The Micro/Mini World Meet is scheduled for August 21-22, 2010.

The organizers, Ken & Sylvia Weger, are hoping for 500-700 mini and micro cars to fill the University Center at Crystal Lake, Illinois. (They had a successful show back in 2006 that drew 300 cars and thousands of spectators. So if anyone can pull off a "World Meet" it's probably them.)

And attendees will have the opportunity to tour the Small Wonders Micro/Mini Car Museum -- a 15,000 square foot showroom displaying the Weger's car collection. (Ribbon cutting for the museum is planned for August 23, 2008.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Club of the month - King Midget Car Club

Our featured club members love their royal ride. The International King Midget Car Club Inc. keeps the interest going and the marque alive with many active members and their yearly "Jamboree". This year August 15 - 17 2008 - Don't miss it !!! From the early one passenger model, to the final fiberglass finale, the King Midget had lots of fans. We salute this club and one of our own favorite cars.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

L'Oeuf: The Iso Isetta Wasn't the First Bubblecar

Born in 1903, Paul Arzens studied at Paris Fine Arts school. He built this car (L'Oeuf -- "the egg") in Paris in 1942 -- the world's first true bubble car. The vehicle was constructed from hand-formed aluminium and a windscreen and curved side doors made of Plexiglass. (Plexiglass at the time was a new material.) Initially the L'Oeuf was electric and power came from five 12 volt 250amp batteries that powered an electric motor on the single rear wheel. After the second World War this was replaced with a 125cc engine. The vehicle was used by Arzens up until his death aged 87 in 1990; it is now in the Transportation museum in Mulhouse, France.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Liège-Brescia-Liège: Wrap-up

The Liège-Brescia-Liège Rally is over, but stories of the 2,000-mile run from Belgium to Italy and back will continue -- until the next rally, scheduled for July 10-19, 2009.
In the "Authentic" category (cars that would have been eligible for the rally in 1958), Vespa 400's took first, third and eighth positions. Messerschmitt TG500's came in second, fourth and sixth (a KR200 came in 12th). Berkeley SE492's finished fifth, 16th and 22nd, while an SE328 finished 21st. Other cars that finished the rally included a trio of Zundapp Janus', a pair of Citroen 2CV's, two Heinkel 200's, four BMW Isettas (three 300's and a 250) and a Goggomobil Dart 400.

A full story of the rally appeared in the Telegraph.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A car named Stuart (Electric Microvan)

Actually Stuart the car looks more the shape of a mini mini van. This little electric had motor of 4hp and a cruising range of 40 miles at 35mph. Stu was born in Kalamazoo MI. Designed as a small family vehicle poor Stuart didn't have much of a family because it appears only prototypes were built. For interesting alternative transportation -

Monday, August 4, 2008

I said Zeta not Isetta

While we're on the subject of fiberglass microcars we have to mention the Lightburn Zeta. A car of unusual styling to put it mildly, this little wagon with no tailgate comes from "down under". Billed as Australia's own second car, you would access the cargo area by simply removing the front seats. This, and other faulty features, made this micro made in a washing machine factory a washout. Read more -

Saturday, August 2, 2008

More About Almquists (Crosley-powered)

The Almquists have been "coming out of the woodwork" as a result of the efforts of Daniel Strohl of Hemmings and the guys at Fiberglass Sports Cars.
Almquist, a manufacturer and distributor of a wide variety of aftermarket "speed equipment", also designed and sold several fiberglass bodies -- with instructions on how to fit them to different frames. The smaller examples (Sabres) fit into our definition of minicars and were often assembled with Crosley components.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Remembering Renzo Revolta (Automobile Pioneer)

We think it's fitting to honor Renzo Rivolta (1908-1966) on the 100th year since his birth. Mr. Rivolta's company produced many vehicles, starting with scooters and going on to celebrated sports cars like the Iso Rivolta. Along with designers Pierluigi Raggi and Ermenegildo Preti he built one of the most unusual cars ever. Of course it's our beloved Isetta. Mr. Preti and Mr. Rivolta are seated and Mr. Raggi is standing.