Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mazda Kaan: Three-wheel Racer from the Future?

One of the features of this week's LA Auto Show was a challenge to develop a racecar design for 2025. The challenge was answered by nine Southern California automotive design studios -- and our favorite was the product of Mazda R&D of North America.

"The MAZDA KAAN is an electric race car designed to compete in the E1 races, the pinnacle of international motorsports in terms of technology and popularity. In 2025, California freeways have been resurfaced with a sub-level electro-conductive polymer that powers the electric cars of the modern world. MAZDA’s patented electronic tire system uses this technology to power the KAAN to reach 250 mph with no harmful emissions!
The vehicles are piloted by individual drivers but teams are made up of thirty cars, all on the track together. Using strategies similar to those in cycling peletons, the tighter the group sticks together, the more aerodynamic and powerful it becomes.
Inspiration for the KAAN comes from electric fields and textures seen in nature, particularly those in a lightning bolt. The car is uniquely designed around its powerful electric wheels while the cockpit acts as a capsule to safely house the driver, allowing for tighter peloton formations and a team victory."
If Ricardo Montalban had a car like this in the 1982 Star Trek flick, The Wrath of Khan, he might have been able to drive right out of that nebula, and we would have been spared the two movies that followed this one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

smart USA Sells 20,000 smart fortwo Cars in the US.

According to the smart USA Newsletter, the 20,000th smart fortwo was recently delivered to its owners.

smart USA: "In just ten months from our first vehicle sale, smart USA delivered the 20,000th smart fortwo in the United States at smart center Dallas. Ken Schnitzer, smart center Dallas Dealer Principal, personally turned the keys over to the proud new owners, Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Zipper of Dallas, Texas. Congratulations to the Zippers on their milestone smart!"

That's good news for smart -- but don't you think the Zippers really should be renting Zipcars?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Which is which? Can you identify which car is the Polish Medusa and which is the French Ligier?
There are many little known microcars that are always fun to discover. For the
answer to the question, take a look at this website for this and more.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving: Minicars & Turky's looks like we spelled turkey wrong in the title of this post.

But no! We have found the perfect minicar site for this Thanksgiving Day. Turky's Towing: If you need a jerk, call the Turk. And he sells minicars (2CV's to be specific) on the side.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day, let's all be thankful that we have food on the table, and that we don't need to call the Turk for his towing services. (But you might want to give him a call on Black Friday to pick up a 2CV for the holidays.)

Audi Considering a Re-launch of the A2 Minicar.

According to the German press, Audi is planning to revive the A2, its aborted entry into the microcar market. German auto magazine, Auto Bild reports that the new A2 will likely be a sport model with a high roof to round off the compact A1 and A3 model segments.
While Audi officials will not comment on the Bild report, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has said: 'We are looking at different scenarios including a new A2.'
the new car may share components with the VW Up!, incluing its three-cylinder engine. (1.4 liter gasoline or 1.6 liter diesel.) Electric options are also being explored.
The original A2 was introduced in 1999. Poor sales led to the discontinuation of the model in 2005.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Check out this Czech

Frantisek Honc came up with the name of his cars by combinding elements
of his name and where he lived, the Czech town of Bakov. The HOBA was
a small three wheeled vehicle with a JAWA engine. The models shown here
are the HOBA 1 & 2. To find more info on rare cars try findrarecar -

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sit in the center

The Avia was a little automobile from the Czechs. Various unusual
body styles and central steering were a bit different from other makers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Russian rides

Russsia has turned out a wide variety of vehicles, here we have the
IZH "SBH4" artic car that could be a Siberian snowmobile. Also a nice
group of ZAZ automobiles. For a great site of eastern European autos -

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Popular Culture embraces the smart car

The true test of the viability of a new product is whether it is able to "inject" itself into popular culture. The folks at Smart USA have certainly been doing their best -- between road shows to introduce the car to consumers, sponsorship of Live Earth concerts against global warming, and even their partnership with Club Monaco during Fashion Week in NYC.

But proof that the smart car is really here is the recent Blondie comic strip featuring the car. may not be the most favorable portrayal of a product. But, to quote Mae West, "I don’t care what they say about me in the papers, just as long as they spell my name right."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The MINUTIA "Axes to Grind" Department

OK...this is a new feature.

MINUTIA and MINUTIA Online tend to be relatively benign in our opinions of cars, stories and websites -- but we just stumbled on a site that we have to take umbrage with. (Yes -- we managed to use that word in a sentence ;-p)

Our subject of scorn is The Ugliest Cars in Britain. Yes...someone has decided to spend time trying to catalog the most unattractive cars in all of Britain. Why not?

While we kind of like the site, and we enjoyed scrolling through it -- we didn't appreciate the inclusion of several microcars. C'mon...Isetta, Corbin Sparrow, Reliant Robin and Bond Bug, even the NSU 1000. These aren't ugly cars -- these are cars of character.

As for the Pontiac Aztec -- that one truly belongs on the list!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Microcars: Alive and Well in South America

This video proves that the love of microcars is universal.
Check out the line-up of microcars at a meeting in Cosquin, Cordoba, Argentina.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Big Daddy takes off

Yesterday we had a George Barris hovercraft, today we put the spotlight on Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. He was the wildman of car culture in the 1960's, turning out one creative creation after another. His final works were tiny three wheelers going the high milage route. More info at -

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Car of the Future - Model of the Past

George Barris - King of the Customizers - created this hovercraft back in the 60's. The XPAC 400 was something we should be cruising the super highways in by now. For more fun 400 facts -

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's a flying fastback !

The flying car concept never quite got off the ground on a large scale, even though
a few makes and models did get off the ground and cruise through the clouds now
and then. This slightly clumsy looking example is a hoot. See more info at -

Monday, November 17, 2008

Isetta of the future?

This hovercraft looks something like an Isetta from the yeat 2525. In any case I'm preparing an extra wide space in my driveway in case I'm still around.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Volkswagen developing a competitor to the smart car

Volkswagen unveiled a minicar concept at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show. The "up!" is being scheduled for production, and it is rumored that it will be on the market as early as 2010. small as the up! is, it is a big car by smart car standards -- so VW seems to be developing a city car version of the up!. According to Auto Motor und Sport, the new car will be positioned against the Smart ForTwo. The car will come with a front-wheel drive and will be based on a shortened version of the up! Power will come from a 1-liter diesel delivering 50 hp. Most likely an electric version will also be available with lithium-ion batteries with a range around 65 miles. And if it only comes with the diesel engine, then you should not worry about filling the tank too often as it will get 117.6 mpg (2l per 100 km).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Toyota i-unit mobility device: Is it something gone missing from Cirque du Soleil, or is it Elton John's new wheelchair?

From a Toyota press release:

i-unit (Toyota)
The “i-unit” is a form of “personal mobility” that seeks to attain a greater balance of meeting individuals’ wishes to enjoy freedom of movement, harmony with society, and harmony with the Earth’s natural environment.

“Expanding Human Abilities”This union of driver and vehicle is intended to expand human abilities and possibilities.

“Inspire the Individual”Making a better world with mobility leading the way to a greater bond between people and the planet. Movement expands our world by creating possibilities and encounters among nature, society, people and culture. Movement brings us new sensations, discoveries and acquaintances, enabling individuals to lead fuller lives and cultivating a sense of belonging with the planet.

Design Theme
“The Leaf”The design, inspired by the leaf that converts sunlight into life energy, seeks to express the power of the unknown, the logic of living things and the simple beauty of waste-free functionality.

Main Features
  1. Mobility with an Ultra Compact SizeThe “i-unit” creates a seamless transformation between vehicle and human movement, minimizing occupied space and energy consumption with its lightweight and ultra compact size.
  2. Variable Positioning
    The i-unit has a compact size enabling the passenger to move among other people in an upright position in low speed mode, and a low center of gravity that ensures stable handling when the vehicles reclines in high speed mode.
  3. Ease of Operation
    Drive ControllerDrive-by-wire technology and intuitive handling enable the passenger to maneuver on-the-spot turns and drive at high speed at will.
    IT ControllerA driver support information system uses sound, light and vibration to facilitate interactive communication.
  4. Driver Support System
    The driver support system features Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technology, which Toyota hopes to utilize for an accident-free society. The system permits efficient and safe autopilot driving in specially equipped lanes.
  5. “My-unit”A personalized recognition system can provide information and music, and body color can be customized, according to the individual’s preferences and emotions.
  6. Environmentally Friendly Body MaterialsThe body is built using environmentally friendly plant-based materials such as kenaf.

I don't know about you...but this looks a lot like a "glitzed-up" version of the iBOT mobility device designed by Dean Kamen and developed by J&J's Independence Technology division.

But the real question has to you have to wear the goofy silver suit to drive an i-unit?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Carpenter Cars

Would you like a way out wooden set of wheels? We found a few on
a site devoted to "Art Cars". This Fiat replica and the crude conveyance
are at opposite ends of what is possible with some woodworking skills.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cardboard Creations

Artist Chris Gilmour creates lifesize vehicles out of cardboard. This
Fiat 500 is a nice example of his talent. To view more of his work -

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Ukrainian NAMI

The NAMI - National AutoMobile Institute - developed several
prototypes, but never brought them to market. The Belka above is
an unusual configuration. For more interesting micros -

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Take a talking gawking tour

This little GoCar will tell you where to go and what to see. The global positioning unit lets you know where
to turn and even spins yarns about the local areas you're cruising through. These happy tourists are touring
San Fransisco, but other cities have them too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Neuritis, Neuralgia and Nostalgia

From HOT HOT Hondas to sweet stockers, Japanese Nostalgic Car is the place to go. If you're old enough to be nostalgic about early Japanese cars your sweet bird of youth hath flown, but if you still enjoy car shows, photos and info about a whole variety of cars out of Japan just take a trip to this site and blog -

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mini Muscle Cars make small work of big hills

This year's VSCC Lakeland Trials featured the ascent of Drumhouse -- a steep hill of loose and rutted slate -- the downfall of many of the cars that participated in the trial on Saturday, November 8th.

Pre-war Austin Sevens, the diminutive "Cars for the Millions", assumed the role of mini-muscle cars -- often succeeding in the ascent while other cars fell short.
Take a look at this brief video to get an idea of just how steep Drumhouse is.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Photoshop fun

If you drive a microcar and feel you're lacking road status to the oversized SUV, maybe this is the solution. Actually this image is from a contest taking a three wheel commuter car and turning it into whatever the imagination could come up with. Take a look at some others -

Friday, November 7, 2008

Presidential Parade of Cars

There have been a variety of cars that presidents have used over the years. Back in the 1960's Fiat
presented LBJ with this Jolly. He liked to take guests on the tour of his ranch in style. He also liked
to pretend a car was out of control as it rolled into a lake on his property while his guests would panic.
Of course they didn't realize they were driving in an Amphicar. For a picture of his Amphicar and
other presidential rides -

Thursday, November 6, 2008

MINUTIA 17-2 is on its way

Bantams, Isettas, Crosleys (lots of Crosleys), and reports from several of this past summer's shows are in this issue of MINUTIA. And it should be delivered to your doorstep shortly.
What's that...? You say that you aren't a member of the club. Well -- never fear, we can fix that. Just click on the Microcar & Minicar Club membership page and you can start getting your own issue of MINUTIA, and keep up with what's going on in the Microcar World.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

DAF 600 50th Anniversary

This stamp was issued by the Dutch postal system to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the DAF 600.
We honor the DAF Club of America as our car club of the month. For more DAF information take a look at

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let's get cultural

If you don't have a lot of space for cars or a big garage, don't despair. I'm sure you have a space on your wall.
Park a painting on your wall. Here we have a nice example of a 2CV for a price that's a mere bag of shells. I
found it in an online gallery by searching for "little blue car".

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama Wins / McCain Wins

We have to admit this was just a ploy to get more people to look at our site. And just like this Circular 360 car,
we have no idea which way it's going to go, but it will be all over tomorrow. Please let it be over !!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Little known microcars

The Huppelphepher Museum in the ancient city of Hoaksacumin, Germany has quite a selection of rare and one of a kind microcars. Here we see the almost unknown Isetta prototype nicknamed the "Beerbelly Isetta". Another popular attraction is this futuristic Autorollinandaschleppin coupe. To see these and many more oddities go to -

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Parade of Trabants

The ugly duckling of East Germany’s roadways finally gets its day!

Sunday, 9 November; 10 am - 2 pm
When the Berlin Wall fell on 9 November 1989, thousands of East Germans rushed to reunite with friends and family. Their typical mode of transportation? The Trabant. Despite its poor performance and smoky two-stroke engine, this little car is now affectionately regarded as a symbol of East Germany and the fall of communism. Trabants are quite rare in the U.S., but on 9 November, a caravan of the communist-bloc cars will converge on the International Spy Museum in Washington DC to celebrate the 19th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. Come view the vintage cars, which will be parked in front of the Museum on F Street, NW, and win a ride in a Trabant. While the cars are on display, experts will be on hand to answer questions about Trabants, the Cold War, and Communism, while the Blaskapelle Alte Kameraden German Band provides festive music.
Free! No registration required!