Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween - with a Mini-sized pumpkin

Linus' Great Pumpkin had nothing on this monster -- shown at the Annual Pumpkin Show in Netley, near Southampton, Hants (UK).

According to the Daily Mail, the pumpkin weighed in at 1,457 pounds (that's 104 stone if you come from England) -- described as weighing more than an original Mini car. (The original Mini weighed in at 1,360 pounds.)

But...even though we tend toward smaller things, it should be pointed out that the world's heaviest-ever pumpkin weighed in at 1,689lbs and was grown by Joe Jutras of Rhode Island, USA, in 2007. (We grow everything big here in the States.)

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fairthorpe Atom - A Microcar That Would Make Fisher-Price Happy

The Fairthorpe Atom was an experiment in fiberglass. It was the first product of Fairthorpe Ltd., a car company founded by Air Vice Marshall D.C.T. Bennett CB, CBE, DSO (an RAF officer, airline founder, and member of Parliament).

As quoted on the Fairthorpe Sports Car Site, "In the mid fifties fibreglass was in it’s infancy and everyone was learning how to work it including Don Bennett. His first attempts at car manufacture produced what we today would call a microcar, seating just two people and using a motorcycle engine in the rear. It was called the ATOM but perhaps did not go like one. The Excelsior two stroke, BSA 250cc and Gold Flash 650 engines were options but despite a great deal of development work and export orders from America, the car was not a great commercial success."

But...the Atom was the forerunner of the Fairthorpe Electron, a more substantial sports car that enjoyed greater success.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Smallest "Car" We've ever Seen

Well...all we know about this car (or is it a motorbike) is what you can see on this YouTube video. It doesn't look very safe, and it can't be very maneuverable -- but it sure looks like fun. (At least until you end up with a major case of "Road Rash" by taking a spill with this diminutive vehicle.)

If you know any more about this, please let us know.

007 May Drive an Aston Martin, But the Bond Girls Like Smaller Cars

"Bond...James Bond."
"Shaken, not stirred."
Who can forget some of the classic Bond lines -- and who can forget some of the classic Bond cars. The Aston Martin and the Lotus. (Oh yeah, he went for a BMW in one of the films, but he seems more dedicated to British cars.) much as we like Bond, we really like the Bond girls. And the new Bond girl in Quantum of Solace that opens in theaters on October 29th, will be driving a Ford Ka. A Ford Ka? Camille, played by Olga Kurylenko will be driving a new Ford Ka.
It's not truly a minicar (the engine is a whopping 1.3 liter job), but it is downright small compared to Bond's ride.
Check out the Ka's introduction at the Paris Auto Show.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Early Japanese microcar

This politically incorrect article was seen on the site

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Looks Like smart Will Launch Brabus Version

According to AutoBlog, smart will begin selling a BRABUS-tuned version in 2009:

Those looking for a little bit more punch from their microcars are in luck as smart will begin offering the BRABUS-tuned version of its fortwo in the U.S. beginning in February 2009. News of its impending arrival was apparently emailed to potential smart owners who have already placed reservation deposits but have not yet configured their new fortwo. These people in line for a regular smart fortwo will have the option of changing their reservation to the limited edition BRABUS model beginning 8PM EST tonight. The American-ized version should feature the same 98-horsepower turbocharged three-cylinder engine as the BRABUS fortwo in Europe, as well as the same styling tweaks and handling package. Even with the increase in power, the European BRABUS fortwo is still able to achieve 45 miles per U.S. gallon. While it's 10-second run to 60 won't break any records, that's a precious few ticks quicker that the standard model and would surely make the microcar a lot more fun to drive. Still, we'll take what we can get.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy birthday to me ! ! !

Greetings, HOOP here - I hope you microcar people out there have a day as bright as my King Midget. I think Minnie the dog wants to go for a ride now. Here are some of my HOOPMOBILE "Art Cars".

Friday, October 24, 2008

Smart Car . . . to go.

From a Daimler press release:

Stuttgart / Ulm – With car2go, Daimler is launching a completely new mobility concept and is providing a future-oriented answer to increasing traffic volume in urban areas. “car2go is an intelligent and creative solution that provides a simple, flexible and value-for-money approach to mobility with environmentally-friendly vehicles” is how Dr. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, describes the objective of the project.
On 24 October 2008 the first pilot phase will start in the southern German city of Ulm where car2go will be tested in real-life conditions. “Ulm has been one of our most important research locations for many years, and is therefore the ideal choice for testing this future-oriented mobility concept”, says Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the board of management responsible for research and development at Daimler AG. Welcoming the commitment of Daimler AG, Ivo Gönner, the Mayor of the City of Ulm , says “As a center of scientific activity, Ulm offers the right environment for laying the groundwork for new ways forward in mobility”, The City of Ulm is supporting the car2go project team, in particular with issues of traffic planning.
Simple and economical city driving
And this is how it works: a fleet of smart fortwo vehicles will be made available within the city, functioning for all citizens as a vehicle pool that can be accessed at any time. Following a one-off registration process, the smarts can be hired spontaneously in passing, or pre-booked and used for as long as desired. The concept aims to ensure that a reliable vehicle is available at any time, just a few minutes walk away. The customer gets in and can drive off right away. Once the trip is completed, the driver simply parks the rental smart somewhere within the city limits. Billing for the Ulm project is just as straightforward and flexible as the entire operation of car2go – to the nearest minute, for just 19 cents per minute.
car2go in detail
On registering for car2go, the customer’s driving license is provided with an electronic chip that enables the car to be unlocked. Customers have several possibilities for accessing a car2go. A spontaneous “passing” rental, for example – wherever a customer finds a free smart, they can hire it “on-the-spot”. To do so, the customer simply holds their driving license up to a reading device behind the windscreen, gets in, enters their PIN number and drives off. Available vehicles can be located quickly and easily via the internet or a telephone service hotline. Alternatively, vehicles can be booked up to 24 hours in advance. In this case the location and directions to the vehicle reserved are sent to the customer in good time via a text message.
The rental period can last for as long as desired. The vehicle remains reserved for the customer during any stops made – when shopping, for example. When customers wish to return the car2go, they simply leave the vehicle in a parking space within the city limits. All "non-managed" parking spaces within the city limits can be used, for example the car can be parked at the side of the road or within marked parking spaces. In addition, specially marked car2go parking spaces are provided at railway stations or airports.
Charged to the minute
car2go is also notable for its simple and transparent payment system. Charges are not based on distance, but on time – minute for minute – similar to mobile phone usage. Customers can use a car2go in Ulm for 19 cents per minute – inclusive of all associated costs such as fuel, insurance and taxes. Favorable hourly or daily rates apply to longer rental periods. There is no joining fee as a special motivation to try out car2go. Customers are not required to enter into any long-term contractual commitment, and there is no deposit or minimum usage fee. Customers pay for the actual vehicle use by means of a convenient monthly bill.
High quality and reliable service
A service team cleans the vehicles on a regular basis and handles all technical maintenance work. This guarantees that every customer receives a clean, tidy and undamaged vehicle for every trip. The service team is also responsible for refilling the fuel tank, or customers can do this themselves using a pre-paid fuel card found in the glove compartment of the car2go in return for free minutes credited against their next trip. Customers can use the integrated navigation system via a special car2go monitor and they can establish a telephone connection to the service center should they have any questions about the vehicle.
Start-up with 50 smart fortwos
The first phase of the project with 50 smart fortwos will start in Ulm on 24 October and the vehicles will initially be available to employees of Daimler AG only. Robert Henrich, the responsible project manager in Daimler's Business Innovation division says “Our objective in this initial project phase is to gather practical experience of using car2go. For example we will analyze the technical implementation, the service concept and the usage behavior of the customers.” The next pilot phase will begin in the spring of next year, and will see the size of the vehicle fleet in Ulm increased considerably and the group of possible car2go users expanded to include all residents of the city and visitors.
In supporting car2go, Ulm is promoting efficient individual mobility concepts for inner city traffic and the optimum usage of available parking space, and the city is also setting international standards. “The implementation of the car2go pilot project in Ulm has been made possible primarily thanks to the comprehensive support of the city”, Robert Henrich continues. The firm Daimler TSS GmbH based in Ulm played a decisive role in the development of the telematics systems, the internet portal and the fleet management systems.
The origin of the concept: smart - “Not just another car”
When the first smart was produced in 1997, the new two-seater micro-car also carried with it a vision of mobility in the 21st century; tailored to address traffic problems in large urban areas. A host of mobility services, such as special rates for occasional rental of a larger vehicle, cheaper car wash rates, special parking arrangements in large cities and combined usage of car, rail and local public transport all positioned the smart as “not just another car”.
The original idea of the smart mobility concept was taken on by Daimler's Business Innovation division, which identifies emerging business sectors and derives corresponding business models. In view of increasing crude oil prices, higher traffic volumes in urban areas and the growing need for individual mobility, Business Innovation devised car2go as a tailor-made response to the issues raised by today’s urban mobility.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Buddy can ya spare a car?

The Buddy is a successful electric from Norway, it's been around for years. Too bad you can't get them here in the land of red,white and blue. For Buddy info -

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Racing a dwarf

We call our autos "Microcars" or "Minicars" but there are also "Dwarf" cars. These tiny racers have become increasingly popular in the past several years. Using 4 cylinder motorcycle engines and shrunken antique style bodies, these baby bombs can still burn up the track. The average Joe or Jane can go racing on a very economical budget. For a little history -

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pat Moss - Rally Driver & Equestrian (and Berkeley Driver) 1934-2008

Pat Moss, younger sister of Sir Stirling Moss, passed away last Thursday. In addition to being the first woman to win an international rally, Ms. Moss piloted a Berkeley SE328 in the original Liège-Brescia-Liège Rally.

She participated in the Liège-Brescia-Liège Rally shortly after winning an Alpine Cup on the Alpine Rally in an Austin-Healey 3000. What a contrast was the little 328cc Berkeley, yet Pat remembered it with affection: “They were so cute, really cute, but used to seize regularly. You got out and had a cigarette and got back in and it would go again.”

Motorsport has lost a legend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Best of France & Italy Car Show

Sunday, November 2, 2008 - 9am to 4pm
Where does France meet Italy?
If you answered The Alps, you are wrong. This year, France and Italy will be meeting in Van Nuys, California at the "Best of France and Italy Car Show". Get you "fix" of Citroëns and Fiats.

Come join us at Woodley Park, Van Nuys for a day with the best of French and Italian motoring machinery. This a non-judged show, from the rough restoration project to the serious concours offering. All are welcome, and our pricing structure is geared toward the collector with more than one vehicle.
If you don't have a car, plenty will be for sale amongst the rows of gleaming machinery. The intent of this gathering is to provide a meeting place for those marques that get little attention at the fancier concours. If you're looking to unload the garage or for that special part, check out our swap meet.
The registration fee is the same for both cars and swap meet vendors. A parking area is provided for trailers and tow vehicles. Food will be available or bring a picnic (no alcohol please).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Microcars at Murphy Auto Museum

A special exhibit of Microcars, including American Austin Bantams, Fiat, and Crosley will be at the Murphy Auto Museum from October 1st through January 15th. The museum is at 2230 Statham Blvd. in Oxnard, California. Most of these cars are 60+ years old, showing that downsizing to economize is nothing new. The microcar exhibit at the Auto Museum features a 1947 Crosley pickup truck and a 1966 Fiat 600 minivan with an unusual body design that leaves one wondering if it's coming or going.

And if you are a Mousketeer wannabe, you will be pleased to know that one of the six microcars on display motored down Disneyland's Main Street during nightly parades, with the famous mouse behind the wheel. The same Bantam Roadster was depicted in Mickey's animated film "Traffic Troubles."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Toyota iQ microcar to hit US shores at Los Angeles Auto Show

According to Motor Trend, Toyota's microcar - the iQ, is coming to the US.

As late as March of this year officials at Toyota stated that the car was destined for European and Japanese markets only. But the folks at Motor Trend, quoting "sources", have reported that the 56-mpg car will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month -- but with a Scion logo on the nose.

We reported on the car's appearance at the Geneva Auto Show back in March (MINUTIA Online - March 4, 2008), but we had no idea we would have the opportunity to see the microcar at our local Scion dealership.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Super Smart

I've seen Minis running around New York City with the rear seats cut out and a huge can of Red Bull energy drink sticking up in the air. Now here's a Smart Car with a similar advertising concept. Another idea the design team has is to create a Smart hearse for people that have "Gone" green.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival

This year's Hilton Head Concours will once again include microcars in the event.

The Concours organizers have informed us that, "We will again have microcars participating this year in the Concours d'Elegance on Sunday, November 2nd. We have 14 vehicles registered for this year's event with everything ranging from a 1945 Mochet Velocar coming from the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, TN (the oldest microcar participating) to a 1967 Goggomobil TS250 Coupe from Longwood, FL (the newest microcar participating)."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Product placement

Back in the 1930's the Tour de France started a caravan of product cars and trucks to promote sponcers. Millions of French people saw these attractions. Here is an example of parade participants.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Zap gets zapped by ridiculous rules

How's this for dumb, the state of Maine won't register this Zap because they say this three wheeler should have handlebars instead of a steering wheel. Maybe they should check any local police department with a Cushman meter maid scooter. I guess I'm lucky that my Vespa truck has handlebars and I don't live in Maine.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Sunday, October 12, 2008

An Isetta "Called on the Carpet"

Calling an Isetta on the Carpet?

Well . . . it's a figure of speech. Being called on the carpet means 'being rebuked or closely questioned by a person in authority'. But in this case, it just means that someone put an Isetta on a carpet. (Not a good idea if your Isetta leaks as many fluids as my Berkeley does.)

But the folks at FLOR, a manufacturer of carpet tiles decided that a picture of an Isetta parked on a FLOR carpet would look a whole lot more interesting than just a picture of the carpet tiles. (They also have a picture of a Corvette -- but we prefer the bubble car.)

Just another blatent example of exploiting our little cars for commercial gain. But hey, we like it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Electric Minicar from Pinifarina

No plans for the US market, but a partnership of Bolloré and Pininfarina are scheduled to begin manufacturing a new electric minicar for European markets. The corporation is dedicating its efforts to the memory of Andrea Pininfarina -- former chairman of Pininfarina SpA who was killed on August 7th in an accident while riding his Vespa Scooter to work. Pininfarina was a firm believer in the electric car project.

From Pininfarina:

Bolloré and Pininfarina have entered into a partnership featuring all the expertise required to launch serial production of an electric car which, thanks to its technical characteristics and its attractive styling, is bound to make waves in motoring circles.

This car will not be a prototype. It will be a mass production model, with the first units coming off the production line at the end of 2009, after which production will be ramped up gradually based on the availability of the batteries. Built in Turin by Pininfarina-Bolloré, a joint venture formed by the two family-owned groups, the B0 electric car will be powered by Bolloré’s proprietary LMP technology, using a combination of batteries and supercapacitors manufactured in Bolloré’s plants in Quimper, France and Montreal, Canada. The B0 will be a fully-electric vehicle without any carbon dioxide production, having been designed from the ground up with that aim in mind. Its batteries will be housed in a compartment specially designed for that purpose and located under the car, between its axles, lowering its centre of gravity and providing it with outstanding road-holding properties.

With its superb body styled by Pininfarina, Italy’s renowned vehicle design shop, the B0 electric car will be an elegant four-seater, four-door hatchback with an automatic gearbox. Its LMP battery, which will be rechargeable in a matter of hours from a standard domestic main socket, will provide it with a range of 250 km (153 miles). The B0 will have a top speed that is electronically limited to 130 km/h (80 mph) and will feature potent acceleration, reaching 60 km/h from a standing start (0 to 37 mph) in 6.3 seconds. The B0 will also feature solar panels on its roof and hood, so as to help recharge its electrical power reserves.

To be successful in english-speaking countries it will be critical that the company is able to convince potential customers that the name of the car is the "B-zero", not the "B-O".

Friday, October 10, 2008

Those stylish Italians

These young ladies are blocking the view of the new Abarth, but for some reason I don't mind. More from the
Paris show and some more fine Fiat 500 facts at your source for everything 500 can be found at -

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Minicar Introductions at Paris Car Show


I know that "retro" is all the rage, but it seems somewhat extreme to see a vintage 2CV at the Paris Car Show (Mondial de l'Automobile). But there it was, in all its brown glory.

I'm writing this the day before the opening of the show -- so I'm assuming there will be some explanation as to why there is a Hermes 2CV on display. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

More Kings than the King Sisters

It must be getting close to the end of the microcar driving season, because eBay is full of King Midgets this week.

I try to keep tabs on what is moving, so I log into eBay and monitor a number of other sites -- and this week there are no fewer than four King Midgets for sale -- including a couple of Model 2's and a pair of Model 3's. And if you are interested in getting into the microcar game, it's hard to go wrong with one of these little cars. The metal work is simple (and expectations aren't too high, because it isn't like these cars left the factory looking like show cars), the engines are something you can almost have serviced at your local lawn mower repair shop, and the car will probably fit sideways in your garage, with space enough for your everyday driver in the same bay. (Unless you drive a Suburban or a Hummer.)

Also -- there are some great resources for the KM. Go to Midget Motor Supply for parts and to see what's up with progress on a new King Midget -- and the International King Midget Car Club is the place to go to connect with other KM owners (and to find out where the next Jamboree will be held).

So take a look. You might like what you see.

"Gobs and Gobs" of Microcars to Cross the Auction Block - October 18, 2008 (Biardsleap, Cranwell, Lincolnshire, UK)

OK...It's time to pack your bags and take a trip to London.
I know -- the exchange rate is at an all-time low, and the economy seems to be on the brink of collapse -- but when was the last time you saw an auction with 80 microcars crossing the block? (And lots of parts -- boxes and boxes of parts -- enough to keep that microcar on the road for years to come.)
The Bubblecar Museum is holding their End of Season Car and Spares Auction. And based on the amount of stuff listed on the Golding Young auction site, you have to wonder what will be left in the museum when the October 18th sale is over. (Viewing is from 10-4 on October 17th, and from 9-11 on the 18th.)
Even if you can't make it to the sale, you've got to take a look at the catalog of lots to be sold. Some of the stuff looks a little -- how do we say this delicately -- rough, but it is the real deal. Break open the piggy bank, stop watching the news, and go get some microcars.
Despite our enthusiasm, the Microcar & Minicar Club is not associated with this sale.

Thanks to Hemmings Auto Blog for finding this event.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Rinaldo and Enrico Piaggio

Rinaldo Piaggio started the company that his son Enrico would eventually turn into the scooter and car manufacturing firm that we
know today. The Vespa scooters are icons in the world, and that
little Vespa 400 is a favorite of ours. So hats off to this father and
son and we salute them as our "Pioneers of the month".

Monday, October 6, 2008

Get stylish - Get a Vespa 400

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Electric Microcar -- on Ice

This should be a good opportunity to determine what draws the most power from the batteries of an electric vehicle -- air conditioning, or heating.

Mitsubishi has drawn up an agreement with Iceland to test their i MiEV in 2009. This is in addition to the ongoing testing in Japan, and planned work in the US.

Mitsubishi press release:

Mitsubishi Motors signs Memorandum of Understanding with government of Iceland regarding testing of i MiEV electric vehicle
Tokyo, September 19, 2008 — Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will today sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding fleet testing of its zero-emissions i MiEV electric vehicle with Iceland's Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. Iceland has aggressive plans to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels; proposed testing of the electric car would begin during 2009.
The president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, is scheduled to test drive the car in relation to the MoU signing.
Since 1980, Iceland has been making inroads toward a shift to sustainable energy, and at present the nearly 100% of the country's electric power needs are met by hydroelectric and geothermal sources. Iceland has set high environmental targets, receiving global acclaim as a clean energy leader.
In Japan, the zero-emissions i MiEV electric vehicle is currently in fleet testing with seven electric power companies, and is currently in development for a 2009 launch.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hotrod Vespa 400

Hotrodders have always stuffed huge engines in small bodies.
Here are a few examples of rubber burning, wheelie popping Vespas.

Flaming, sparking, death defying rides.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Variety of Vespas

Since we're featuring the Vespa 400 this month, you might like to view a site that has some more info on that make and related topics.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A BMW Racer That's Just My Size

The Coronado Speed Festival is an annual event that draws vintage racecars from across the southwest -- racing on a track carved out of the Coronado Air Base. That translates into fast cars, flat tracks, and a backdrop of battleships and aircraft carriers.

The usual fare include Mustangs, Ferraris, and Aston Martins -- but this year the folks at Brecht Motorsports brought a full range of BMW-products . . . including an Isetta.

But, if you check out the race shots from Autoblog, the Isetta is notably absent from the track. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Car Club of the Month - Vespa 400 Club

If you are a fan of the Vespa 400 (that's the car - not a scooter) then head on down to Tennessee USA to the Microcarlot celebration of that make. Check out the details on the link in the sidebar. The Vespa 400 club -