Sunday, May 31, 2009

Micro Cars at the 2009 Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival

Hilton Head Island, SC - Every year the first Sunday of November serves as the Concours d'Elegance of the Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival. One Hundred and Fifty vintage vehicles line the fields of Honey Horn, a historic Southern plantation, under the spreading oaks and flowing Spanish moss characteristic of the South Carolina Lowcountry to compete for the coveted title of 'Best of Show.'
Classes for this year's Concours d'Elegance include everything from the standards that appear from year to year (Brass Era Cars, Classics, Production 1916-1948 and Modern, English and International Sports Cars, Modifieds) to unique classes to the 2009 event including a class for Mercedes-Benz, the 2009 Honored Marque, special highlights of both Mercer and Hudson to celebrate their 100-year anniversaries, micro cars, motorcycles and a unique, specifically selected group of Corvettes marking the significant milestones in its history. For a complete 2009 class listing, go to
"Each year we continue to raise the bar for the quality and diversity of cars that show at our event and we set quite a high standard in 2008," said Dr. Paul Doerring, Event Chairman. "We are confident we can continue to raise the level of cars seen at the Hilton Head Island Concours and already have some amazing examples schedule to attend such as a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, a 1923 Locomobile 48 Sportif, a 1968 American Motors AMX and a 1972 Ferrari 246 Dino Spyder. It should be a great show."
Classes with room still available include Mercedes-Benz, Hudsons and Mercers, micro cars, motorcycles, especially those with side cars, and brass cars. Cars that register are reviewed by the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance Selection Committee. Registration, which is available online at, is open for 2009 application submission through the middle of June.
The 2009 Concours d'Elegance will feature Michael Spezia, Head Curator and President of the prestigious Gilmore Car Museum, a complex of automobile museums located in Hickory Corners, Michigan, as the Honorary Chairman as well as John Carlson, President and Chief Judge of the National Association of Antique Automobile Clubs of Canada Corporation (NAAACC), as the Chief Judge.
For more information on the Hilton Head Island Concours d'Elegance & Motoring Festival, call (843) 785-SHOW (7469) or visit the official Motoring Festival website,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"Pimp My Nano"

Indian car maker, Tata, spent millions of dollars and employed countless design-hours to come up with the cheapest car possible -- the Tata Nano. At $2,600, this little car is an affordable ride for the growing populationif "call center" employees that are making up a new "middle class" of India.
But, much as we do here in the states, the Indians buying Nanos can't help themselves. According to Bloomberg and The New York Times, "... only 20 percent of Tata's initial 203,000 orders for the car — the Nano — were for the no-frills $2,600 model. Instead, customers booked models at the higher end some costing as much as 40 percent more, or about $3,680. The higher prices mean bigger margins for Tata and less chance of a profit-sapping price war with rival carmakers like Maruti Suzuki India, analysts said."

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bring it on down

If you have a Crosley - Drive - Drag or Truck it over to the Crosley Nationals in July
Read the column on the right for the link to the event

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Coming soon

Another Microcar event you could attend is this EXTRAVAGANZA in the northwest
June 6&7 Forest Grove OR - Check out the link to the right

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Plan ahead

Here's one of the finest microcar events you will find anywhere - Plan to go -
See schedule on the right for a link - It's the BUBBLEDROME

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What has pink paint and a bed

Pinky the Pickup

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Saab 93 at the Hershey Hillclimb

Chuck Christ has been wringing out his 1960 Saab 93F at tracks and hillclimbs all over the east coast. (If you check your back issues of MINUTIA, you'll find a write-up of his car.)
The video above is just 13 seconds of the Hershey Hillclimb -- but it's enough to see what these little cars can do. (More videos are on YouTube if you poke around a little.)
Unfortunately, the Hershey Hillclimb was cancelled this year. With any luck, it will be back in 2010.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Way back when

One year ago we posted this article. Take a look back at our old blog posts.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Yesterday's Minivan - The Fiat 600D Multipla

The next time that neighbor (you know the one, the guy who drives a Sienna) makes some snide remark about your microcar, you might want to remind him that his minivan has microcar roots.

The 6-seat Fiat 600D Multipla is the grandfather of the modern minivan. It was a people-hauler, it was a taxi, and it had seats that folded flat to accomodate loads. (And that was in the days before Home Depot.)

If you have a sudden craving for one of these cars, check out the June 7th Bonhams auction in Greenwich, Connecticut. A nice example has been consigned, with an estimate of $30,000-$35,000.

Happy bidding!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Competition for the Aerocar

If you are a fan of microcars, chances are you have seen pictures of Dave Major's Aerocar. Dave's Aerocar 1 is a BMW 600 with some "aero"dynamic modifications. We don't know what the car's maximum altitude or cruising speed is, but we are sure it can match the flight characteristics of the Delta Airlines MINI. (Dave's other Aerocar, the Isetta Snow Plane is a whole different type of Aerocar. It flies over the snow. It was featured in MINUTIA Volume 16, Number 1.)
We ran across this MINI Aerocar across from Grand Central Terminal in New York City. The attendants handing out Delta literature couldn't provide any information on the performance of the MINI Aerocar, but that looks like a pretty powerful jet engine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zundapp Janus Card

The Zundapp Janus was the subject of "Miniature Cars & Scooters" number 19 (series of 25). This four-wheeler, four-seater has a centrally positioned engine of 248 cc, capable of 50 m.p.h. It has a front and rear door, and production began in the summer of 1957.

Card issued by Ewbanks Ltd., Eagle Works, Pontefract.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tony Soprano in a Subaru 360?

Leafing through back issue of MINUTIA I came across this photo (Volume 9, Number 2) of James Gandolfini wedging himself into a Subaru 360 in an episode of "The Sopranos".

We always knew that Tony Soprano was big (come to think of it, all the mob guys in the show were big -- even Little Stevie "Silvio Dante"), but this photo really puts it in perspective.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nice dealership

Pop by Michaels for a nice selection of Microcars or Reliants. Selby, that's in the UK.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's Back...A New Isetta

It seems that rumors of a new Isetta appear every time BMW sneezes.
We had reports in April 2008, then in May 2008, and then in September 2008. We'll have to say, however, that the recent rumor comes with the best photograph of the lot.
But take a close look...
Imagine the mating of a new Beetle with an Audi TT. Well -- at least that's what I see.
For the full story, go to Auto Express.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Classic Car at the Lane Motor Museum

You're not going to want to miss this one. Dennis Gage from My Classic Car is going to the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Lane has an outstanding collection of microcars (as well as race cars and one-off concept cars). You are going to want to visit the Lane yourself -- but in the meantime, check out My Classic Car this next week to see what the Lane has to offer.
The show will air on:
Sunday, May 17 @ 9:30 am ET
Monday, May 18 @ 3:00 am ET
Tuesday, May 19 @ 3:00 pm ET

Are three wheels enough?

The Morgan enthusiasts seem to think so. If yesterday's posting didn't give you enough of your "Morgan fix", check out this short video. I'm pretty sure it is from Germany, but Morgans are multi-lingual -- so you'll be able to enjoy the sound of the V-twin J.A.P. engine in any language.
As microcar enthusiasts, we recognize that Morgans don't have a monopoly on three-wheeled travel. That is shared by Messerschmitts, Isettas, some Berkeleys, and even the occasional BSA Front-wheel-drive trike.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A "Flying Morgan" at Brooklands

It's a short video, but the "pre-hill" burn-out is worth watching. This Morgan Aero makes the Brooklands Test Hill look like a walk in the park.
When you watch this you understand the relationship that the Morgan Trikes have with motorcycles.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Das Auto von Heute - Bungartz "Butz"

My German is a little rusty, so instead of attempting to translate, I will just list what is printed on the back of this collector card.

255 Bilder


offener Zweisitzer mit Gepäckanhänger, 400 ccm, 12 PS, Zweizylinder - Zweitakter, Heckmotor, Schwingachsen.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's 10 O'Clock -- Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

And if they are doing this, maybe you should increase the amount on the life insurance policies you have on them.
Yes...this is a classic case of, "it was all in fun, until someone got hurt."
Although I will have to admit that I participated is some pretty silly things when I was that age. I remember riding a wagon down a steep driveway. And when someone suggested that we needed brakes, the solution was to tie an anchor to the rear axle. When you start going too fast, throw out the anchor. What we failed to anticipate was the anchor line wrapping around a tree growing next to the driveway. We went from fast -- to stopped -- instantly. Everyone tumbled out on to the blacktop (no helmets back then), and the rear axle snapped.
Great fun!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fantastic 500

A simple car with a simply fantastic paint job.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Hey you teenagers - Why rent a stretch Hummer or Cad-doo for your prom ?
Ride in maxxxxxed out micromania in a tripped out pink Trabant ! ! ! YEAH

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The "Mo-Bubble"

This is the story behind my 1992 Microbubble, or "Mo-Bubble" as my friends call it, a home-built I concocted this past summer.

The Microbubble came about because of my interest in the English Peel Trident, a true bubble top car that is very rare today. Only a few dozen were built back in the Sixties, and even trying to find photos of one could keep you busy for years.

Not being able to find a Trident, or even get much information on one, I decided to build one myself (or at least something similar in size and shape).

I started with a discarded Isetta frame. I first narrowed it 9 inches and shortened it 22 inches. For power, I decided to use a 50cc Honda Express moped engine/transmission. I welded a moped steering knuckle to the axle, then added handlebars and a seat. I ended up with a very stable 3 wheeler that was fast and fun to play with. This lightweight chassis was very stable, even at its full speed of 30 mph, or during hard cornering.

Next came the body. Much through went into its design, construction, and the selection of materials. I sketched every aspect of the construction phase. When an idea came to me -- no matter when or where -- I wrote it down: on envelopes, pads and even my shirtsleeves. From these initial scribbles came the drawings I later used.

For the body framework, I decided on EMT conduit. Using a maple tree as a jig, I bent the tubing to shape and welded it together.

The body panels are 3/16 UHMW Plastic-delrin sheets that I bought cheap at a sale. I pop-riveted the plastic to the frame, clamping as I went along. I found out that practically nothing will stick to the body panels -- adhesives, glues -- even paint! I had to rough up the surface with a D/A and 180 paper to finally get a coat of paint on it. Urethane foam panels were shaped and glued with paneling adhesive to the interior of the body panels. This added stability and soundproofing. I covered the foam with grey felt carpeting to finish off the interior.

The entire body tilts forward like the original Trident for exit and entry. The body is held up by a gas strut when open. The starter is a lever on the left that is pumped forward and winds a spring that is released by the brake lever and starts the engine. Steering is by handlebars and the turning circle is 10 feet or so. There's only one brake -- a drum on the rear wheel -- but it stops well. The engine is adequate for the average person in weight, but the car is not much of a hill climber. Top speed is 30 mph and the unladen weight is 210 lbs. The car's length is 66 inches. (This makes it the second smallest car in the world.) Body width is 42 inches and height is 50 inches. It uses 12-volt lights all around with no battery necessary.

Driving the Mo-Bubble is a blast! Its light weight, tiny size (much smaller than an Isetta!) and easy maneuverability make it a quick, fun microcar. Just ask anyone who saw it at the Canfield Ohio Show this summer or the National Meet this fall.

I currently have this micro licensed and insured in New York State as a moped, class B, which covers vehicles with speeds up to 30 mph.

If you didn't get a chance to see the Mo-Bubble during the 1992 season, look for it at meets this year!


By Steve George, Marathon, NY
From the back issues of MINUTIA (Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 1993)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Last Weekend's Microcar Meet in Westwood, Kansas

The annual show put on by Jack Vetter in Westwood, Kansas was another success this year. Unlike the rest of the country, Kansas City was spared the rain this weekend, so there was nothing to dampen spirits.
Over two dozen cars attended the show, giving everyone something to look at and kibitz about.
Dave Major recorded some of the action on video.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Auto Sales in the Dumpster...Tell That to Tata!

According to Bloomberg, Tata Motors has received over 200,000 orders for its new microcar, the Tata Nano. If this keeps up, the new car will capture a 17% share of the Indian auto market in its first year.

Unfortunately, these orders are outstripping the production capacity of Tata, so the company will select the first 100,000 customers by lottery.

Sales of the two-cylinder, 624 cc Nano was delayed by at least six months after a land dispute forced Tata Motors to shutter a purpose-built factory in the east of the country.
Most customers who failed to make it to the initial list of buyers may cancel their orders, considering the long wait, said said Deepesh Rathore, Indian automotive analyst at IHS Global Insight Inc.
“As soon as Tata announces the winners of the first 100,000 Nanos, I expect a majority of remaining bookings to be eventually canceled,” said Rathore. “A section of the people would wait with their bookings and have a look at the first few cars on the roads and then decide.”

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Is the car smiling at me -- or is it laughing at the model's costume?

According to Gasgoo (Global Auto Sources, A Leading Portal for China Auto Industry) Chery Auto is gearing up for the luanch of the Chery QQme, previously codenamed Chery S16, in the first half of 2009. The car will reportedly target the young female market. (We can only hope that the designers of the car didn't have anything to do with the design of the model's dress.)
The concept (Chery S16) was first shown in 2005. Sources said that the Chery S16 was renamed the Chery QQme to present its "QQme, Only me" theme.
Chery Auto started as a manufacturer of QQ small cars and still keeps its leading R&D capability in this field.
"Some experts said that the Chery QQme is not a beautiful car, but its "ugliness" somehow comes together to make this car super-cool!" We haven't seen photos of the interior, but the dashboard is supposed to imitate a smiling face. (Too much!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Is half a 2cv a 1 cv ? Or is it a car for narrow minded people.
Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Narrow driveway

Did this car sideswipe the house? Nope it's just the way Frank Didik

parks his car. Check out Frank's website if you like Electric cars or

inventions galore.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Berkeley at Watkins Glen

The following story was reprinted from MINUTIA Issue 14, Number 3 (2005)

My second racing outing of the season was the Watkins Glen Historic Races.

Watkins Glen is the home to the first road racing in the U.S. after the war. Races were held on roads around the town from 1948-1952, and a permanent track was built in 1953. The track now hosts part of the NEXTEL and NASCAR series, and Indy cars will be racing there in the fall.

So…amid all this history, and racing accomplishments, I dropped in with my Berkeley (originally an SE328 – but upgraded with a 3-cylinder 492cc engine). The racing paddocks were full (over 300 cars were in attendance), and many of the cars around me were what I refer to as the “heavy metal” of vintage racing – stock cars, Trans-Am racers and BOSS (Big Open Single Seaters, including Indy Cars, Formula Atlantic, F1, F2, F3000, and F5000). I used to think my Berkeley with its 2-stroke engine was loud. These cars are so loud that you feel the sound through your feet and in your gut as they pass by.

My 8:30am Saturday track session took me all of two feet. The car started right up – and sounded really nice, but when I put it in gear (or attempted to put it in gear) the car lurched slightly, then revved freely. Assuming it was my fault I started jockeying around for the right gear – but couldn’t find anything. A brief look under the hood revealed the culprit – the chain had parted and was coiled like a snake under the engine. I thought it was the end of my weekend, but the guys from GMT Racing are a resourceful bunch. A visit to a motorcycle repair shop, and a bunch of scraped knuckles got me ready for my next outing in the early afternoon.

The VSCCA (Vintage Sports Car Club of America), the club I run with, is more about the cars than it is about racing – so in events like this, we begin the sessions with an “inverted start” – putting the slowest car in front and the fastest cars in the rear. Well…I was slated for the pole position. But, since I had never taken a circuit of this track before, I negotiated a trade with Jim Warren who’s ’57 MGA was in the number two position. We normally divide up into classes based on our car’s age, engine size, and relative speed – but at this event, all of the VSCCA cars were running in the same heat. The 16 cars lined up on the false grid, preparing for the start, included a couple of late 50’s Porsche 356’s, two Lotus 18’s, a Triumph TR-3, a Stanguilini, a Lotus Elite, an Allard J2, a Daimler SP250, a Speedwell GT Sprite, Jim’s MGA…and me.

We did one parade lap behind a Chevy Corvette pace car, then took the green flag. Jim took off ahead of me, and the remainder of the pack passed me between turn two and the back straights. To be honest, as a newcomer to racing, I was more than happy to find myself alone – able to feel out the track without any traffic. And Watkins Glen is a big track, almost 40 feet wide and 3.4 miles around. Seventeen cars can get lost on a track this size.

I proceeded to run my own race, on my own time. As a relative neophyte to both racing and the Berkeley, I have a really hard time feeling my way through the downshifts on the sequential gearbox. Missing a shift on the road is no real problem – but on a track like Watkins Glen, a missed downshift can almost bring the car to a stop. There is one point on the track (an area called “The Boot”) where a hairpin curve is immediately followed by a hill. Fourth gear won’t do, and second gear is too low – so I kept shooting for third, and I only hit it about 50% of the time.

The two Lotus 18’s lapped me pretty quickly – and actually passed me again during their “cool down” lap. The Porsche’s also lapped me – but it took them much longer to get by. I held everyone else at bay, coming in 15th in the field of 16 cars. (An Austin Healey spun and took himself out of the race.) This was considered the qualifying race for Sunday’s feature session – but since we started with so few entrants, all of us qualified – and I was destined for the pole.

Sunday’s race went off about ten minutes late, due to a delay in the hour-long GT/Historic Enduro that preceded our race. I folded myself into the car and prepared myself for the six-lap event. I followed the pace car out on the track, giving waves or thumbs-up to the corner workers as we passed. (The great thing about driving a Berkeley is that everyone gives you a smile.) I expected the green flag as we approached the start/finish line -- instead I was shown a double-yellow. Now…I had “crammed” the night before, trying to remember what all the flags mean, and I knew that yellow meant caution, slow down, no passing – but I couldn’t remember what a double-yellow meant. (As it turns out, double-yellow means the entire course is under yellow-flag conditions – but I was sitting there wracking my brain trying to remember what it could mean.) We continued on to a second parade lap, and in the middle of the lap I saw the Daimler being towed off, clearly the victim of some mechanical problems. After what seemed an eternity, I got the green flag and tucked myself over to the left to stay away from the stampede.

Once again, the entire pack passed me with little trouble – but this time I decided to test a few limits and see what the car could do (or at least, how far I could take it before chickening out). I tested the corners, took them a little deeper, and found that there were parts of the track that I could handle without lifting – and I continued working on downshifts to third.

About halfway through the race I was shown the yellow flag, and came around a turn to see the Allard with a blown tire off to the side of the track. About the same time, but unbeknownst to me, the Speedwell GT retired to the pits with some mechanical problems. Despite my best efforts, the two Lotus 18’s quickly came up behind me and passed – my consolation was that they only passed me once this time. The Porsche’s also passed me, but again, I was running a better race than the day before, and it took them longer to catch up. I was the last car running to take the checkered flag – but with three cars out, I finished 13th – up two spots from the previous session. (Let’s ignore the fine line between outrunning and outlasting a competitor.) The cool-down lap was particularly pleasing, passing the waves, smiles, and thumbs-ups of the corner workers. You would think I had come in first.

Driving through the pits, back into the paddock, I went by victory lane, where drivers of the two Lotus 18’s and a Porsche 356 Coupe were celebrating their wins. My Berkeley will never challenge them, and, based on their experience as drivers, any one of them could probably jump in my car and turn laps much faster than me – but, I had fun.

I changed, loaded the Berkeley on my trailer, and headed home – hitting highway speeds much higher than any I hit on the track.
Rich Campbell

Photo © Lucie Collins

Saturday, May 2, 2009

If you liked "The Italian Job" clip earlier this week

This it the 50th anniversary of the Austin MINI. Earlier this week we posted a clip of the chase scene from the 1969 movie, "The Italian Job." Many people consider this the best car chase in the movies.

In 2003 a remake of "The Italian Job" was filmed, this time with new MINI's in the place of the original cars. It's pretty cool.

Which one do you prefer?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sneaking up on crime

Here we see the mayor of Jersey City, new Jersey testing out a new type of police car.