Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Terror in the trials

When we were teenagers our expression for something like this was
"Man, that guy is really wailin'.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Imitation is the best form of Flattery?

It's a saying we've heard a million times -- but that doesn't keep people from threatening lawsuits when they think that an idea (or style) has been copied.

But sometimes you have to ask the question, who copied who.

Ford came out with the original Thunderbird, a two-seater sports car, back in the mid 1950's. Toward the end of the decade, Auto Union introduced the Auto Union 1000 Coupe. (Like the Thunderbird, it was also available as a roadster.) The Auto Union model looks a lot like a smaller version of the Thunderbird.

Then, a few years ago, amid the successes of so many "retro" styled cars, Ford came out with a retro version of the Thunderbird -- describing it as taking many of its styling cues from its earlier models.

Take a look at the Thunderbirds and at the Auto Union 1000. We think the new Thunderbird looks more like an updated Auto Union 1000 Coupe than it looks like an updated Thunderbird.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mini Car ---- Monkey Car

We've never heard of this one before -- but according to TLC Enterprise, a manufacturer of tether cars and parts, carnivals (back in the 50's and 60's) used to strap monkeys into little cars and run them around a track.

The following is the description of the car they have listed for sale on their site. "In the 50s & 60s they straped real monkeys in these cars & they went around a track like a slot car. The straps are still in this car, the grill has #2 on it. The rear wheels are missing. The car is 26" long, 7 1/2" wide. Packed in a box it's 18 lbs."

We found this all a little unbelievable, so we spent a little time on Google looking for monkey cars -- and sure enough, there were monkey car races.

While it is our hope that monkey car races are a thing of the past, we did find an event listing for the Western Illinois Fair (2008) for a Monkey Car Show. Go figure.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Boat car

Onassis would keep this car on his yacht, here he's seen driving Churchill around.
I'll make this our mystery car of the week. The winner gets a free subscription to
our blog,

Friday, March 27, 2009


Here are some images of a Fiat Abarth 695SS that I drove for awhile way back when.
Photos by George Bonanno who was the previous owner. I won't tell ya how I flipped it.,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Another World" ad for Pelephone from Israel

We'd love to have seen the props call for this commercial. The Isetta is a key element, but it also has a BMW 600 -- and I think I saw a Messerschmitt as well. (If you can identify any other microcars in the commercial, please let us know.)

I've got to admit, that I was a little "freaked out" when the Isetta deflated. The cars are small and light, but we always thought they were a little more substantial than that.

The ad was produced by Grey Advertising in Israel.

(By the way . . . do you find the sheep as disturbing as we do?)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lawn Art...Art Car...Lawn Car?

After finding pictures of a Goggomobile in a standoff with a bull (see yesterday's posting), we couldn't resist looking for other "lawn art" images. And our search was rewarded with this Motorized Lawn.

The photo was taken by "unrelaxeddad", and posted to his Flickr site.

And just when we thought we had seen everything, we notices a posting inviting unrelaxeddad to include the image in a "pool" of grass car images. (Go to the link and you'll find 15 pictures of these crazy little cars.)

This all begs a few questions:

  • Do you wash your car, or do you have to mow it?

  • Do you have to fertilize your car? And if you do, what's it smell like on the inside?

  • Do you have a sign in your front yard that says, "Please don't park your lawn on the grass"?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Death in the Afternoon


Maybe a better title would be, Goggo vs. Bull.

Wilfried Solbach, a journalist based in Cologne (Köln), Germany, found this "standoff" between a bull and a Goggomobil Limo in a garden in Bad Godesberg, near the former capital of West Germany - Bonn. (Go to his Flickr site for more images, including another Goggomobil on the roof, overseeing the standoff.)

In general, we would put our money on the bull -- but we suspect that this bull is made of fiberglass. (Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors -- but does sheet steel beat fiberglass?)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Flying Car (Or is it a Driving Airplane?)

Every pilot faces uncertain weather, rising costs, and ground transportation hassles on each end of the flight. The Transition® combines the unique convenience of being able to fold its wings with the ability to drive on any surface road in a modern personal airplane platform. Stowing the wings for road use and deploying them for flight at the airport is activated from inside the cockpit. This unique functionality addresses head-on the issues faced by today’s Private and Sport Pilots.
Terrafugia’s award-winning MIT-trained engineers have been advancing the state-of-the-art in personal aircraft since 2006. Now you can streamline your flying experience with the revolutionary integration of personal land and air travel made possible by the Transition® Roadable Aircraft.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy little car

This bugeye (or is it a frogeye) Sprite is a happy looking little car.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Short Story: Flat Out

AutoGlym paid custom car afficando Andy Saunders to constuct the world's lowest car. Sitting at just over 21 inches, the Flat Out concept is truly outrageous. It also breaks Andy's earlier record of a 34.5 inches, achieved with a severely altered Mini called Claustrophobia.
In just three days the car was complete and doesn't sit much higher than the tires themselves. Most likely we will hear of this car again once it gets a place in the Guiness Book of World Records.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Believe It Or Not...That's a Peel Microcar

As reported in the Mail Online:

It has certainly got itself into a tight squeeze, but the world's smallest car has every right to be there.
Tucked in between two vans in London's Piccadilly Circus, the Peel P50 is parked squarely by its new home.
The miniature vehicle goes on display today (February 6, 2009) at Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum, which promises visitors the ultimate insight into the world of the odd and bizarre.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Isettas: At Home in BMW Welt

Munich, capital of Bavaria, is the home of Bavarian Motor Works, BMW, and their new museum, BMW Welt (World), opened only last June, 2008. It consists of a high-tech pathway through a series of seven concept-boxes on multiple levels. Dream-like interactivity is everywhere, even the walls have moving images projected from within; and the walls speak to you in English or German depending on where you stand. There is a huge touch-panel display where you can explore the company history on your own.

BMW began, of course, as a motorcycle company and about 80 of its greatest motorcycles are displayed and explained. The cars range from the two seat Italian designed Isetta which was propelled by a BMW motorcycle engine, through the emergence of premium sports cars in the 60's and 70's through the racing champions leading up to today.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hotrod Goggomobil

This video really makes me wish I worked harder in my high school German classes. (Sorry Frau Benkert -- I'll do a better job next time.)
This is a Goggomobil Limo that has clearly been "massaged," and it really shows when they take it out on the road.
If you know what's under the hood, or trunk, let us know.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lawn ornament

What to do with your car when you're finished driving it but still want it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How can you tell if you are a "Car Guy"?

It's simple.

If this is the only Monopoly piece that you will ever consider using, you are a car guy. (The destroyer is pretty cool, the dog is OK, and you might consider being the top hat -- but only if you are desperate.)

And this car is just the right size for a microcar fan.

Photo by Kevin Labianco.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Paris in the past

The new Reyonnah at the Paris automobile show.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Microcars attract the nicest people

At the risk of sounding a little sappy -- we've got to say that Isetta-owner, Mike Cole has got to rank up there as one of the most generous men alive.

Even if you ignore the Nobel Peace Prize that he and 6,000 other United Nations peacekeepers received for their service in Lebanon in 1988, Cole is a pretty special guy.

Known around his neighborhood in Swansea, Illinois as "the man who hangs out in his garage, restoring old cars," Cole is preparing to donate a kidney to a 10-year-old neighbor who has been been on dialysis for a year because of kidney failure.

The full story is on the Belleville News-Democrat website.

Cole is working on a red and white 1957 BMW Isetta microcar that he says "looks like an egg." Considering his donation plans, we like to think the car looks a little like a kidney.

Isetta image is adapted from the Flor catalog, Summer 2008.

Friday, March 13, 2009


IN the past Ed Alsbury, a safety engineer and hobby racer of Class H cars from Kirkwood, Mo., has used the popular little Crosley engine in his cars. Class H mills are limited to 46 cubic inches. His latest homebuilt, which will hit about 95 mph wide open, has a rear-mounted, four-cylinder, 50-hp Mercury outboard motor. He chose this power package to keep the weight down; the finished car weighs 685 lbs. with gas and oil.
The JABRO body, a glass fiber job by James Broadwell, allows the engine to be mounted fore or aft. (The first JABRO car appeared on Mi’s cover in May 1958.) For ease of maintenance the body may be completely removed by removing two bolts up front and two at the rear.
The Merc engine is mounted on its side and power is taken off the top instead of the propeller end. A pair of custom adaptor plates hitch the gearbox to the engine. A washing machine pump handles 20 gallons of water a minute at 6000 rpm. The radiator is up front, with long hoses running around the driver to a special water manifold. Each cylinder has its own hose connection with the manifold. As an outboard the engine runs at 70°; here it runs at 180° with the cooling system. Alsbury has kept the engine stock; the fine power-to-weight ratio allows this, makes souping-up unnecessary.”

Robert Hegge
Another "Blast from the Past" from the Modern Mechanix website. (Mechanix Illustrated, April 1962)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can A Secret Agent Drive A Daffodil?

What kind of car comes to mind when you think "Secret Agent"? Is is an Aston Martin (James Bond), a Bentley (John Steed of The Avengers), a Volvo P1800 (Simon Templar, "The Saint"), or a Sunbeam Tiger (Maxwell Smart of Get Smart)?
We got to thinking about cars and secret agents -- and with the help of the Internet Movie Cars Database, we found John Mannering driving a DAF Daffodil.
So -- you ask -- who is John Mannering. Well, he is an antiques dealer and undercover agent working in an informal capacity for the head of the fictional British Diplomatic Intelligence. And, more importantly, he is the star of "The Baron", a British television series from 1965/1966.
Now, we are pretty sure that the Daffodil isn't his everyday ride, but this suave, daring, hero is piloting a baby-blue (or maybe it is sea-foam green) Daffodil in episode twelve. He is clearly a "manly-man" to be seen in this car -- but we like it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Way back in the 1930's

Leo L. Mc Kenzie built some midget autos as a sideline to his bodyshop business.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Another "Airplane Car"

A couple of days ago we found a car made out of scavenged airplane parts that the builder referred to as the "Doodlebug".

So maybe it isn't so unusual that we found another Airplane Car -- this time from the pages of Modern Mechanics (May 1932).

Car Body From Airplane Fuselage

AN AIRPLANE fuselage constitutes the body of the completely streamlined car shown below. The power plant and rear wheel of a motorcycle, a Ford front axle assembly, and three “doughnut” tires complete the make-up of the cigar-shaped car. it has a 130-inch wheelbase, will go 50 miles an hour, and goes from 45 to 50 miles on a gallon of gasoline. Efficient streamlining of this car reduces wind resistance to a minimum.

Found on the pages of the Modern Mechanix website.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Model citizen

Read the story of how one man was looking for some model autos and began a

Dave Sinclair started importing model cars
from Europe way back when very little was
available in the way of collector models.
He's seen here in a miniature auto. Now you can buy a model of one of the original Smart car concepts as seen
above or almost any other car.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Barbie - With a Pink Fiat 500

FIAT PRESS RELEASE: A Fiat 500 Show Car Birthday Gift For Barbie®Fiat 500 makes headlines once more, as befits an authentic Made in Italy icon. This time it's an original Fiat 500 show car dedicated to the most famous fashion doll ever: Barbie®. This exceptional vehicle, created by a partnership between the Fiat Centro Stile and Mattel, will be given officially to Barbie® on 9 March next, at her fiftieth birthday celebrations in Milan.It's a fashionista car but quite tongue-in-cheek and with lots of charm: just like Barbie® herself. The gleaming paintwork resembles varnish and definitely makes for a shock effect, achieved with deep lacquered colour using ultra fine aluminium plunged in deep, up-to-the-minute pink. The seating is upholstered in strikingly soft fabrics: silver laminated Alcantara® is not only trendy but plush to the touch and its glimmer bounces as far as the roof panel. Then there are mats enhanced with natural silk yarn and sleek viscose, not to mention lip glosses in brilliant colours stored in the glove compartment, plus a LED-decked vanity mirror to ensure perfect application. And there's more. The car has more features than a crown has jewels! Crystals sparkle on interior bezels, hubcaps, outer window mouldings and antenna and even outline the doll's famed silhouette on the pillars. Lastly, this Fiat 500 show car also has its own glossy cover, featuring the distinctive Sixties version of the Fiat 500 and a Barbie® autograph.The latest Fiat 500 show car will appear in public for the first time on Monday 9 March, from 6.30pm onwards, when it will race through the quintessential streets of Milan's fashion district. Barbie® will be aboard and she'll have her own special driver: Ken, of course. On arriving at the entrance to La Rinascente department store, in Piazza Duomo, Barbie® will leave the car and walk the unique pink carpet created just for her. The band Nena will be playing live in the background, reviving some of the most famous pop songs from the fifty years of the legendary fashion doll's existence.Roberto Giolito, creator of the Fiat 500, had this to say about the Mattel-Fiat partnership scheme: "All-American Ms Barbie® already has a number of 'transport solutions' available, like thundering GTs and motor homes with endless accessories. So if she's spotted a 500 and wants one as a gift for this landmark birthday, it's a signal typical of modern times that there's a renewed need for dreaming the simple things in life, which give so much, allow us to lighten up, thrill who's born beautiful or just feels beautiful, but doesn't have to prove anything. After all, Barbie® already has everything. Sleek Barbie® is a looker, smart enough to listen to everyone, a universal ambassador opting for a car that never divides but frees everyone from having to declare their social status. The new 2009 version celebrates her birthday with a model that offers a better view of the sun and the stars, all the better for continuing to dream, especially daydreams."

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's a Car...It's an Airplane...It's a Doodlebug?

Go ahead...Google the word "doodlebug".

I did, and I was amazed at how many things have been called doodlebugs -- from self-propelled rail cars, to tractors made out of old Ford cars, to unmanned flying bombs (The V-1 flying bombs used by the Germans against London during WWII were alternately referred to as Buzzbombs and Doodlebugs.) And there were even racecars from the 1930's that went by the name.

But this was a new one on me.

“Doodlebug” is the name Sgt. C. O. Peterson gave this runabout built of salvaged airplane parts. Single cylinder engine does 200 miles to the gallon at speeds up to 42 mph. The tank holds two quarts of gas and the machine weighs 300 lbs.

From Mechanix Illustrated, February 1946.

Found on the Modern Mechanix website.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Will people go electric ???

The Toyota FT-EV was recently presented as a concept car that will hit the
streets in 2012. Read more about it -

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Traveling abroad ?

If you happen to be passing by the Prince of Monaco Motor Museum, stop in
for a nice variety of cars in tip top shape. Or take a video tour here -

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Rytecraft Scootacar teaser

This rare little machine is for sale on the web. I'm sure you collectors of
unusual microbilia will have no trouble finding it. tee hee hee !

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How about a 500cc Formula III racer from 1951?

One of only two such single-seaters, the 1951-built Mezzolitre was created by Gordon Bashford, later a senior designer at Rover and Olaf Poppe who later became the Rover Production Director. Unusually, the Mezzolitre was front-wheel drive and the BSA motorcycle parallel twin engine was methanol-fueled and there was chain-drive between four-speed motorcycle gearbox and the front-mounted differential. Front suspension is by swing-axle with beam axle to the rear and coil springs, telescopic shockers and hydraulic brakes completing the specification. The car including the lightweight bodywork is in need of total restoration. A quantity of spares include a road wheel, engine sprockets, a pair of Amal carburettors on a manifold, 2 exhaust pipes, a rocker box, a rev counter and several tanks. Primarily intended as circuit racers, they made their debut at the 1951 September SUNBAC meeting at Silverstone, this car driven by Rupert Instone and it also competed twice at Shelsley Walsh and ten times at Prescott.

This car now boasts a 500cc Triumph T1oo engine (the original BSA engine wasn't competitive). If this is the kind of car you are interested in, you are in luck. It is currently offered for sale in the UK.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Art and the Isetta: Works by Autistic Artists

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically lasts throughout a person's lifetime. It is part of a group of disorders known as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Today, 1 in 150 individuals is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. It occurs in all racial, ethnic, and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others. It is also associated with rigid routines and repetitive behaviors, such as obsessively arranging objects or following very specific routines. Symptoms can range from very mild to quite severe.

This website is about minicars and microcars -- but that doesn't mean that we can't feel stongly about other issues -- and autism is an issue that should be important to all of us. But...how does this all relate to microcars?

This image was painted by an artist who also happens to have autism.

Ricky Hagedorn likes to make pictures of cars and airplanes on wood shingles using enamel and acrylic paint in rich primary colors, and his representations come to life: the chrome gleams and the sun beats down on the roof. He annotates his works with his own hieroglyphic system that identify the date of the work.

The image was part of a show titled, Pure Visionaries: Works by 5 Outsider Artists. It was shown at the York Square Cinema Gallery in New York City.

If you want to learn more about Autism, and what you can do about it, please go to the Autism Speaks website.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Coming to the big screen !!!

Harrod Blank is the "KING" of the art car community. He travels the country
documenting these decorated vehicles and the eccentric owners that drive them.
His new film features yours truly with a few of my micros. He will be on a filmfest
tour, then bringing this latest documentary "Automorphosis" to major cities and
releasing it as a DVD. For a fun glimpse of these unusual forms of travel see it.