Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A World of Blogs

When you start looking around you come to realize that "there's a world of blogs out there."

The folks at Hemmings have been kind enough to give us permission to use some photos in MINUTIA, and they even featured the editor's 1959 Berkeley in the August 2007 issue of Sports & Exotic Car -- so we were pleased to see that minicars and microcars are often featured in the Hemmings Auto Blogs.

A posting from just earlier today features a Crosley Ice Cream truck and a Trabant. So check it out.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fiat 500 Collects European Car of the Year 2008

Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 10:50 am
Press Release: Ateco Automotive Pty Ltd

Fiat was officially presented with the European Car of the Year 2008 award last night (28 January 2008) at a special ceremony in Berlin after 57 of the 58 judges placed it in their shortlist and now fewer than 33 judges gave the Fiat 500 the top spot. With the presentation of the award to the Fiat 500, Fiat has now won 12 European Car of the Year titles.

"We have gone a long way in a short space of time," said Sergio Marchionne, C.E.O. of Fiat Group Automobiles at the ceremony. "And I am proud to be able to underline that Fiat was the fastest growing car brand in Europe last year. The 500 is not a final target for the brand, but just the first stage in the ongoing development of the 'new Fiat', which is why we see the 500 as not just a car, but as a 'travelling agenda' of what we want to achieve."

The judges praised the Fiat 500 for its seamless blend of styling backed by intelligent design and high technology to produce a small car that is a pleasure to own, safe to drive and environmentally friendly.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ferrari F1 racer gets Fiat 500

F1 drivers are usually given a carmaker’s top performance model when they sign up to race under them, probably because anything else would be painstakingly slow in comparison to an F1 racer, so imagine the surprise when Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was handed the keys to a humble Fiat 500 minicar. January 21, 2008 at Monte Carlo, Massa took delivery of a Fiat 500 powered by an exclusive 120hp 1.4L engine and personalised with unique graphic details, such as his signature embossed in the sill scuff plate. Other special features include the car’s brown leather trim, pearl white paint, Skydome electric sunroof and 16in diamond alloy wheels dressed with red brake callipers.
The car has been modified by Fiat Powertrain Racing, the carmarker’s division responsible for the design, research, development and production of performance engines, but we suspect it still might not be enough for F1 driver. Don’t worry, because Massa still has the keys to his Ferrari 599 but we can still imagine him getting up to some high-speed antics behind the wheel of his personalized Cinquecento.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the
World’s only International Rally for sub-500cc cars
July 17-20, 1958 -- July 11-20, 2008

Something completely new in classic rallying: an endurance rally for microcars!

In July 1958, the Royal Motor Union of Liège organised a special once-only ‘mini’ version of its legendary Marathon de la Route, specifically for cars of under 500cc engine capacity: it ran from Thursday evening to Sunday evening, non-stop apart from a break of a few hours in Brescia. 36 little cars entered, but only 13 finished the gruelling rally.

In July 2008, a celebration Touring Rally will run along the same 2000-mile route, from Liège in Belgium via Germany, Austria, Italy and Slovenia back to Liège, for the same categories of vehicles as the original event. We are honoured to have the enthusiastic support and co-operation of the Royal Motor Union of Liège for this new rally.

This time the rally will not be a flat-out grind against the clock: in deference to modern road conditions and the cherished nature of the vehicles, this will be a touring event spread over 10 days, finishing on the same date as the original event. Each day’s route will be approx 330km, visiting all the places visited by the original rally, such as Ljubljana, the Stelvio and Gavia Passes and the BMW factory at Munich. Participants will accrue points for accurate navigation and for fault-free running; optional competitions will be included on private roads or race circuits en route and winners from each category will receive awards at prizegiving dinners in Brescia and Liège.

In 1958, British entrants comprised a works team of six Berkeleys (three 492cc, three 328cc) of which one was crewed by Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom, fresh from winning an Alpine Cup on the Alpine Rally in an Austin-Healey 3000. What a contrast was the little 328cc Berkeley, yet Pat still remembers 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.” Berkeleys led until the rally entered Slovenia, when the Fiat 500s took over, going on to win the event. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the rally was the stunning reliability and performance of the four 250cc Zundapp Janus cars, all of which finished strongly and claimed the team prize. Other marques entered in 1958 included BMW Isetta, Messerschmitt, Citroen 2CV, Lloyd, Isard (Goggomobil), Panhard, Vespa and Meadows Frisky. We hope to attract a similar field in 2008 and will open a separate category for slightly later, slightly larger-engined models in the same spirit, such as the 1959-61 Berkeley B95, which will compete for their own pre-1967 sub-700cc awards.
Please see the Liège-Brescia-Liège pages of website and contact the organisers for more details and entry forms: there are already over 75 names on the provisional entry list. From the US, a Berkeley B95 from Missouri has been entered, and Jeff Lane from the Lane Motor Museum is expected to be a participant.

The organising team for Liège-Brescia-Liège 2008 is led by Malcolm McKay
Contact: ClassicRallyPress Ltd, 3 Pond Cottages, Edgcott, HP18 0TW, England
Tel 01296 770992

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Free Admission at Lane Motor Museum

Everyone Gets In FREE at Lane Motor Museum!
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Regular hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nashville TN, January 24, 2008--- Lane Motor Museum will offer free admission on Sunday, February 3, 2008, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Free admission includes a self-guided tour of the exhibit area, art gallery, and kid’s play area. A gift shop and vending area are also available in the museum.

Free admission is available for everyone on February 3, 2008 only.

About Lane Motor Museum
Lane Motor Museum showcases approximately 150 unique cars and motorcycles from around the world. Cars on display represent countries from Asia, Europe, and North and South America, and date from 1924 to 2003. Highlights of the Museum include the largest Czechoslovakian vehicle collection outside Europe, microcars, amphibious vehicles, alternative fuel vehicles, competition cars, motorcycles, military vehicles, and prototypes. The vehicles displayed on the exhibit hall floor are regularly rotated to keep the exhibit floor fresh for returning guests. The Museum also offers a display of automotive art, a special play area for children, and a gift shop.

Lane Motor Museum welcomes guests Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed: Tuesday & Wednesday; Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day. Regular admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors (55+), and free for children 17 and under. Group rates are available. Lane Motor Museum is located at 702 Murfreesboro Pike just minutes from Downtown Nashville. For more information about the Museum, call (615) 742-7445 or visit the website at

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tata Motors of India Unveils a "People's Car"

The world's cheapest car was unveiled in India on January 10th. The long-awaited 1-lakh car, so named because of its super-cheap price tag of 100,000 Indian rupees (about $2800), will be launched at the New Delhi Auto Expo.

The micro car, manufactured by Tata Motors, has received huge publicity in India. It is priced and designed to lure a whole new cohort of Indians into the car market. The industrialist behind it, Ratan Tata, said in a recent interview that there was a "potential market for 1 million" of his new cars a year in India. New engineering and production systems will keep the cost down, industry analysts say. The 1-lakh car promises to be fuel-efficient compared with most cars now on the road.
The Tata "Nano" measures a mere 3.1 metres long, by 1.5 metres wide, and height of 1.6 metres. Its mono-volume design, with wheels at the corners and the powertrain at the rear, enables it to seat four adults. The People’s Car has a rear-wheel drive, all-aluminium, two-cylinder, 623 cc, 33 PS, multi point fuel injection petrol engine.

smart USA Announces Dealerships

smart USA has announced that the new smart fortwo will be sold through 74 dealerships in the US. 68 "smart centers" are expected to be up and running by the end of January, while the remaining dealerships will be open by June 1st.

Details on the smart car, the reservation program, and the location of the dealerships can be found at

Jay Leno Restores a 1964 Honda SM600

Jay Leno recently purchased a restored 1964 Honda SM600. After receiving the car, he decided it needed a complete re-restoration.

In this video he describes the process, and walks through much of the project, ending with a leisurely drive -- wringing out the car and taking it up past its 9500 rpm redline.

(Click on the link to open the video on the Jay Leno's Garage site.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Welcome to MINUTIA Online

Although the Microcar & Minicar Club has had a web presence since 1997, we have been somewhat slow in developing that from a "static" site to a more interactive offering. We hope to improve on that with the development of MINUTIA Online.

This site is not meant to replace MINUTIA, but to serve as an addition (or enhancement) to our traditional hardcopy quarterly newsletter. (We recognize that many of our members prefer the convenience of a printed newsletter, but we also want to provide an interactive communications tool for our more "web savvy" members.)

While MINUTIA is the official publication of the Microcar & Minicar Club, MINUTIA Online is available to anyone (members and non-members). We hope you enjoy the dialogue, and if you value the information, we hope you will consider joining the club to get the full benefits of membership.

From MINUTIA Issue 1, Number 1 (1992)
The Chair Speaks
Rob Maselko, Club Chairman

Hi everybody, and welcome to the "new" Microcar and Minicar Club! I put "new" in quotes because we are about to embark on the third iteration of what was originally the Heinkel-Messerschmitt-Isetta Club. Although I was involved at its inception, that wonderful organization was largely the blood, speat and tears of Marilyn Felling. After years of hard work and dedication, Marilyn felt the need to move on to other interests in her life, and took the HMI moniker with her. She did however help to keep the club alive by assisting Alan Meyer in setting up the Microcar and Minicar Club. By widening the format to include all small cars, Alan broadened the appeal of the club to a larger number of enthusiasts. As the M&M Club developed, so did Alan's career, forcing him to devote less time to the club and more time to earning a living. (You mean these clubs have been the result of volunteer work??!!) As most of you know, Alan has been overwhelmed by the start-up of his business, and the club has fallen dormant. Well, we are about to change all that!

A group of minicar enthusiasts here in northern New Jersey have decided that the country just cannot continue to exist without an organization devoted to the preservation and enjoyment of the little cars we so love, so with Alan's blessing (and mailing list), we have taken on the challenge of reviving the Microcar and Minicar Club. One factor which I hope will make this new venture successful is the sharing of club duties by various people, each of whom brings added depth and experience to the club. No longer will the weight of the microcar world rest on the shoulders of one individual, but rather on the collective efforts and enthusiasms of our self-appointed board of directors.

This is a special event for me because being involved with this new club brings me full circle from my co-founding of the HMI Club. We hope you will join us in making our new club a success, and help to further the cause of the unique, fun little cars we all love. Let the journey begin...