Monday, August 31, 2009

Smilin' Smart

This "Half Pint" Smart has it's tongue stickin' out. I don't think it's thirsty for gas.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Honey I shrunk the car

If Ford made a microcar in the '50's maybe this would've been it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lucky Austin 7

If you're longing for the good ol' days before air conditioning and power assisted
brakes, then I've got a website for you. Rent an Austin 7 Ruby to go to yesteryear.
Peruse some classic cars while you enjoy the music of different eras. Brilliant ! ! !

Friday, August 28, 2009

Instant Microcar Collection -- Just Add Cash

Want to "play with the big boys . . . but you like the little cars"?

Pre-auction publicity for the September 2-8 Kruse International Auction in Auburn, Indiana claims that 5,000 cars will cross the block (or blocks, since the “World’s Largest Collector Car Auction and Show" will take place on the 480 acre Kruse International Auction Park).
And from the looks of the catalog, there will be plenty of mini and microcars to go around. The list includes:

  • Two 1970 Cushman Trucksters (12 hp and 22 hp)
  • 1963 King Midget
  • 1966 Citroen "Austin Powers" car
  • 1960 Fiat Bianchina
  • 1959 Vespa 400
  • 1953 Piaggio 3 Wheeler
  • 2005 Smart Car Passion
  • 1967 Velorex
  • 2008 Tango Citi Car
  • Three Berkeleys
  • Two Reliants (Regan and Robin)
  • Two BMW Isettas (1956 and 1958)
  • 1952 Crosley Station Wagon
  • 1950 Crosley Hot Shot
  • 1932 BSA Three-Wheeler Roadster

    • But take care before you bid -- there are a couple of mismatched photos on the website, including a 1958 BMW 600 that is labeled as a 1970 Pontiac LeMans, and a Shelby Cobra "project" described as a 1955 Packard 400.

      Check in early . . . the Crosleys and the King Midget are slated to sell on day two of the auction.

      (While we are very interested in the outcome of the sale, we have no financial interest in the auction.)

      Thursday, August 27, 2009

      Nuttin' New

      Up top we see Smokey Stover to the rescue. Below that, the cartoon car
      brought to life by Pete Schlatter. It's a slow go, but it does go.
      Below is the iMO people pod designed by Anthony Jannarelli.
      The "Car of the Future" came from an idea from the past.

      Wednesday, August 26, 2009

      Romi Isetta 2010

      In the "for what it's worth" department, this image was sent to us a couple of days ago. Loosely translated from Portugese it says, "The good side of inside of one." (OK -- I was using Babel Fish. So sue me!)

      Taken at face value, this looks like an ad for a new Isetta (a 2010 model), to be produced or licensed by Romi -- the company that licensed the Isetta for the Brazilian market from Iso back in 1953. 3,000 Romi Isettas were produced between 1956 and 1962.

      So -- should we expect to see some new Isettas coming out of Brazil?

      Tuesday, August 25, 2009

      Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon?

      What's going on here?

      Did Kevin Bacon go out and buy a Crosley, or did someone figure out a way to link Bacon to Powel Crosley in less than "six degrees"?

      Well...the answer is neither -- but we couldn't resist putting the two together to point you to the Six Degrees of Automotive Separation that Dan Strohl has been running on the Hemmings Blog.

      The most recent challenge was to link Crosley's with other automotive manufacturers. (Dan is an admitted "Crosley Nut", so we like him.)

      Monday, August 24, 2009

      Generations apart

      The gentleman in the old timey home built car apparently wasn't satisfied
      with the autos on the market in his day, so he came up with his own design.
      The Mazda people have given us their idea of what we might be driving in the
      future. I just can't make up my mind which I like better.

      Sunday, August 23, 2009

      Positively Pakistani

      This little car was built in Pakistan in the '60's. According to the owner, Hamid Omar
      it's not an easy thing to build a car then get it registered there. For more pictures and
      the whole story go to

      Saturday, August 22, 2009

      Pea soup - OJ and a slice of Lemon

      Can you guess which are the real cars and which is computer created.
      You might remember the Outspan Orange car used for promotions.
      The Pea was used in Birdseye ads years ago. So it's the lemon that
      was morphed from the picture of a Mini and the yellow fruit.

      Friday, August 21, 2009

      i-Setta Again


      BMW confirms Isetta revival

      BMW looks set to break new ground with the addition of a daring new sub-brand that could take the fight to Smart and help dig the company out of its current financial rut. It’s a big ask of a small car that looks likely to draw it’s inspiration from the Isetta “bubble cars” of the 1950’s.

      By Gareth Dean

      In a statement released by BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, he stated that "The Board has now decided: This auto (Project i/ Megacity Vehicle) will be launched on the market as a sub-brand of BMW. As BMW is the innovation driver within the Group, the decision for a sub brand [much like the company’s M-division] under BMW is the most logical step."

      The idea of Project i/Megacity Vehicle has been doing the rounds for almost two years now, and basically involves BMW establishing a microcar that combines urban hipness with environmentally-friendly technology. The car is likely to glean a great deal of influence from BMW’s iconic 1955 Isetta “bubble car”, which featured a single front-opening door and a 10 kW motor. The new car, which could be sold under the brand name “i-Setta” will probably sport two doors and more powerful, fuel efficient engines with technologies such as direct-injection and start/stop likely to make an appearance.

      On the face of it the revival of BMW’s Isetta brand is, in itself, a big development in the motor industry. But it’s only when taking into account the backdrop against which this new sub-brand is being launched that the significance of this move really becomes apparent.

      BMW has not been immune to the global economic downturn, having posted a 76 per cent dip in its second-quarter profits as a result of consumers shying away from expensive cars, while further evidence of the company’s propensity towards tightening purse strings is evident in its imminent exit from Formula One.

      There’s also little doubt that the company has paid great attention to the likes of Aston Martin, whose Cygnet microcar could well herald a previously unheard-of move towards more economical, volume-driven motoring. Likewise, Daimler’s Smart brand, despite its hit-and-miss success, has captured the hearts of many motorists and begins to look less and less absurd as petrol prices soar and emission regulations tighten.

      So, while the likes of GM are desperately trying to shed brands (think Hummer and Saab), BMW is bravely broadening its portfolio by breaking into the virtually unknown realm of charismatic, city-going microcars without cannibalising sales from its other cute, pint-sized retro-mobile – the Mini.

      It’s a big gamble, but in a market environment where the ability to diversify your product line up into the microcar niche is backed by the legacy of a car as friendly and recognizable as the Isetta, the chances are BMW could be on the verge of producing something very special.

      In perhaps the most telling move of all, BMW has released a new Isetta video campaign to promote its museum. In essence, the company is reminding consumers about the Isetta before the launch of its new brand.

      Thursday, August 20, 2009

      A three-wheeled MINI?

      Once again, my poor foreign language skills are revealed.

      This car is an ABC Tricar. And translating from the French:

      L' ABC Tricar was a " cycle car" constituted of the front cradle, the shortened platform and the engine of the Minis. Of course it n' there qu' had; a wheel with l' back. Weighing 500 kg, it reached 135 kmh equipped d' an engine 850 DC, and 150 kmh with one 998 DC. This model was manufactured with 25 specimens, of 1969 to 1973 per Auto Bodycraft.

      If that doesn't make any sense to you -- go to the MINI Planete site and translate it yourself.

      Wednesday, August 19, 2009

      Red Rides

      Tuesday, August 18, 2009

      Blue is the new Green

      A few blue cars that fit in the green catagory. Above the Geneplex out of Japan
      that runs on water. Below a couple of homebuilt vehicles that get their owners
      around town in economy mode.

      Monday, August 17, 2009

      Way Out Woodie

      If you're good with wood, try this project. Actually the fellow building this
      eco economy vehicle is looking for suggestions about it's construction.

      Sunday, August 16, 2009

      Make Mine a Fast Fiat on a Bed of Salt

      Yesterday's Crosley seems only mildly modified, compared to this 1959 Fiat 600. (That's is a Fiat 600 under all that "go-fast" stuff.)

      Denton Hollifield, a 63-year-old retired construction worker from Redding, California decided that he could make his Fiat 600 go a little faster with the addition of a 438-cubic-inch small block Chevrolet motor with Hilborn injection, a Codelco blower and Hogan sheet metal manifold. (A little bigger than the 1,000 cc's that serve as the upper limit for minicars -- but since it started it's life as a Fiat 600 we decided to cut it a break.) Oh...and if you didn't notice, the car has been stretched to 23 feet long.

      We've still got our fingers crossed for Denton, whose goal is to break the 300 mph mark -- but his time on the salt has been tough this year. The car spun on Saturday, August 8th without registering any times, and his run on Sunday the 9th ended with black smoke at mile five. (The top speed recorded was 236.950 mph at mile three.)

      Saturday, August 15, 2009

      This is your Crosley on speed

      We don't really know much about this car -- but it does look like there is a Crosley in there somewhere.

      Whatever it is, this little beast was clocked at 176 mph at Bonneville on August 11th. (Between you and me, that's really fast for a Crosley.)

      Check out the details and more photos on the Southern California Timing Association website.

      Friday, August 14, 2009

      Personalized Plate

      Where did that guy in the modern Mini go? I think he. . .

      Thursday, August 13, 2009

      Flipped INIW

      Either someone else beat this guy to getting the MINI plate, or he was planning
      on flipping his car one day. Funny the way the dealer ad is mounted too.

      Wednesday, August 12, 2009

      Isetta Tipping

      We've all heard stories of "cow tipping", the supposed sport of sneaking up on sleeping cows and pushing them over. (What fun.)

      Now, according to the experts, it is pretty much impossible to tip a cow over. First of all...they don't sleep standing up. Second...they are really big (much bigger than you and me). Third...they are very difficult to sneak up on.

      But, you say -- what does this have to do with microcars. Well, as it turns out, Isetta tipping is much easier than cow tipping. In fact, this video shows that an Isetta can tip without anyone even pushing it.

      Check out this near-miss.

      Tuesday, August 11, 2009

      One toss - Total loss

      The latest prank in Amsterdam seems to be Smart tossing.
      Parking along the canals is a regular practice, and like the Isetta
      or other small car the Smart is easily picked up and moved. Teens
      have taken to tossing Smarts in the canals. That's not a smart thing.

      Monday, August 10, 2009

      Blast Off

      Staying off cars for another day, but continuing the Rocket bike theme, here's another.
      This is the Rocket bike of Scott McNamara as seen in the new film AUTOMORPHOSIS.

      Sunday, August 9, 2009

      Cold War Scooter

      While the Trabant seems to be the Cold War Minicar -- this qualifies as the ultimate Cold War Scooter.

      We found this image on, and we couldn't resist sharing it with you.

      The more we looked at it, the more it made us think about a "turn of the century" French racecar.

      Racing at an amazing 105.8 km/h, the Jamais Contente (Never Content), the first ever purpose-built racing car, smashed the world speed record in April 1899. Driven by Camille Jenatzy, the torpedo-shaped car was powered by electric motors.


      Looking at it again made us realize that it must be a cousin to the missile that Major Kong rode to the target in the 1964 movie, Dr. Strangelove.

      Saturday, August 8, 2009

      Deathmobile -- for the retirement village set

      For those of us who always wanted a "Deathmobile" to drive around in... don't know what I'm talking about...

      The "Deathmobile" -- that wonderful Delta House creation. The unholy combination of a 1966 Lincoln Continental and some overage, fraternity burnouts, with access to welding equipment.

      You're going to have to check out the 1978 movie, Animal House, to get all the details.

      At any rate. You want your own Deathmobile, but you want one that is consistent with today's environmental concerns.

      Check out ebay, for a 1963 Kelsen Sports Rider Electric Car -- complete with black metallic paint and a skull & crossbones on the rear. Take it for a spin in the retirement community -- or out to the golf course. Why not?

      Friday, August 7, 2009

      Trabantland: U2's Adopted Microcar

      You just can't get this kind of publicity. And this is publicity for a car that isn't even made anymore.


      Musicians paying tribute to the car have ranged from the East German Puhdys to the British super group U2. Recently U2 featured the car on their world-wide ”Achtung Baby” tour, prominently displaying Trabis as a source of stage lighting. The Trabi charm has gone world-wide.

      The Trabant was East Germany's peoples car for East Germans as Volkswagen was in West Germany. After a production run of almost 3,000,000 the Trabant line was closed in 1991.

      Thursday, August 6, 2009

      Smart Celebrities: How smart is Miley Cyrus?

      These days it's not enough just to have a good product -- whether it's shoes, cameras, or even cars. Now it's important to make sure that the right people are buying (or at least seen using) your product to get the kind of sales you want.

      And microcars are no different.

      Jay Leno owns a smart car. Does that help with sales of the cars -- well, maybe not. Jay, as any car nut knows, probably owns every car that ever existed -- so there is nothing special about him owning a smart car.

      So let's think about the younger set. What are the "teen heartthrobs" driving? (At least the ones old enough to drive.)

      This is the Miley Cyrus smart fortwo. But it turns out that it's just a prop. Miley's first car was her mom's Porsche Cayenne -- but she has since gone green with a Prius.

      Frankie Muniz, on the other hand seems to actually drive his smart car.

      OK...that wasn't it. This is his smart car.

      How about rich guys? If you saw Donald Trump driving around in a smart car, wouldn't you start thinking that maybe it's a pretty good car. After all, if the Donald doesn't like something, all he has to say is, "Your're Fired."

      Well...we're pretty sure that he doesn't drive one. (Pretty slick photoshop job, don't you think?)

      But it turns out that Shaq does own one. How do you suppose he gets in and out? After all, the guy is seven foot one, and weighs 325 pounds.

      But we all know the celebrity who really drives sales of smart cars. Yup...the pink guy himself.