Monday, May 31, 2010

Did this Phoenix Rise?

Miniature Cars & Scooters
A Series of 25
No. 12

Phoenix, Britain

This four-wheeler mini-car is of unusual shape. It is semi-panoramic, and entrance is gained by the centre section opening from the left side. Powered by a 197 cc Villiers engine has a speed of 45 m.p.h.

Issued by
Ewbanks Ltd.
Eagle Works - Pontefract

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Miniature Cars & Scooters
A Series of 25
No. 1

Avolette, France

A Plastic bodied three-wheeler, manufactured in France. Is available with two alternative power units, both of Lambretta. The 125 cc develops approximately 45 m.p.h., the 150 cc develops almost 55 m.p.h.

Issued by
Ewbanks Ltd.
Eagle Works - Pontefract

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lambretta Scooter

We know...this is a scooter, not a car. But we decided to include it because it is No. 14 in the series of 25 "Miniature Cars & Scooters", published by Ewbanks Ltd.

An extremely popular Italian scooter made in Milan in one of the most modern and up-to-date works. It is also made under licence in Britain, France and Germany. This machine usually has a 150 cc two-stroke engine, though a 175 cc model will appear in England shortly.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Coronet (Miniature Cars & Scooters - No. 15)

This relative newcomer to the mini-car market is styled after the predominant prewar manner, i.e., two front and one rear wheel. It has sleek lines and powered by a 328 cc Excelsior Unit and gives speeds up to 65 m.p.h.

Card issued by Ewbanks Ltd., Eagle Works, Pontefract

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Heinkel (Kabine)

Another Ewbanks Ltd. card.

The "Heinkel", the young child of a famous aircraft firm, began life with three wheels but has now grown a fourth. Its 4-stroke, 204 cc O.H.V. engine gives a maximum speed of 55 m.p.h. and it cruises at 40 m.p.h. with consumption 70/80 m.p.g.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Getting a Little Frisky?

Yes...I said Frisky.

The "Frisky" made its debut in March, 1957. According to Ewbanks (the issuers of the cards, "Miniature Cars & Scooters"), the Frisky is a fixed-head couple, with gullswing pattern doors. Powered by a 325 cc Mercedes Benz 2 cyl two-stroke unit, it has a top speed of over 55 m.p.h. and seats two adults and three children.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Do-it-yourself Microcar

Cycle cars were all the rage back in the teens and twenties. And they continued their popularity well into the the thirties -- in France. (Why is it the French are always a little different?)

But the concept of making your own car (or boat, or plane) is something that still grabs people's attention.

This is a "How-to" article from the January 1932 issue of How to Built It magazine. It kind of makes you wish you had a "junked outboard motor" tucked away in the back of your garage.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

This Cobra is a Garter Snake

It was just a matter of time.

The Japanese regulations that led to Kei cars have now produced the newest version of the Cobra. This Cobra sports a 660cc engine (or a 770cc with a supercharger). It looks like a well-muscled minicar -- but we are pretty sure the girls don't come as standard options.

Monday, May 17, 2010

When the King was King.

If you are a baby boomer, chances are you once lusted after a King Midget. It looked like a car just your size, and its price was almost within reach.

This ad, for an early version of the King Midget, was pulled from a 1940's issue of Popular Mechanics. It was probably back in the back, between an ad for Charles Atlas and an automotive trade school.

With the attention being given to these "personal mobility" vehicles, maybe it's time to take a look at an updated King Midget.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And We Thought it Was All Make-Believe: GM's EN-V

Just a few days ago we posted a page from Popular Science, showing a microcar of the future. While we thought it was interesting, we assumed that it was nothing more than a vision. (A little like the flying scooter that ran a few days back.)

But...we did some looking around and realized that we missed the unveiling of the GM/Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. EN-V concept cars at the Shanghai car show back in March. Shame on us.

According to GM:

EN-V, short for Electric Networked Vehicle, is a two-seat vehicle designed to alleviate concerns surrounding traffic congestion, parking availability, air quality and affordability for tomorrow's cities.

Photo courtesy of GM.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Remember the Days Before the Internet...? There Were Magazines and "Shoppers".

If you're looking for a nice little Nash Metropolitan, you can cruise the computer listings, or you can pick up a copy of Classic Cars & Parts. You remember those things...magazines?

Sure, they aren't as current as the internet listings -- but there is something reassuring about things printed on paper. Maybe even, as with this listing, with a telephone number to call.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ebay is Not the Only Way -- Autobianchi Bianchina on Craigslist

Sometimes it seems that ebay has become the only place to look for cars for sale -- but there are other options. This pretty little Autobianchi appeared on Craigslist last month. The price seems a little steep -- but the car certainly photographs well.

We'd be interested in a report on the car if anyone saw it at the Carlisle show.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Smart people live in Austin, Texas

City workers in Austin, Texas are part of a smart deal. In an effort to encourage city workers to use public transportation, the city of Austin worked a deal with Daimler -- launching Car2go, a car-sharing initiative.

Once they get to the city, employees can access a network of 200 smart cars. The cars are free when used to run work errands, and are billed by the minute for personal use. According to FastCompany magazine, over 1,000 employees used the cars during the first four months of the program -- triple the original estimates for the initiative.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who Says Smart Cars Aren't Fast?

I certainly wouldn't recommend doing this at home -- but it is interesting to see what can be done with a smart car. (Do you suppose this is "stock" from the showroom -- or do you think some "make fast" stuff has gone into this car?)

The driver might want to check the doors next time.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Microcar of the Future?

The May issue of Popular Science featured an interesting concept car -- titled the "Robotic Commuter Pod". (If you want something to sound cool, put "pod" in its name.)

The article describes the vehicle as similar to the General Motors PUMA concept. (See April 10, 2009 write-up.)

So...what makes it Robotic? According to Popular Science, "Guided by radar, GPS, and car-to-car and car-to-road signals, the vehicle pilots itself, leaving the commuter free to talk on the phone, access the internet, or watch videos on a large transparent OLED screen."

That means you can safely use your iPod in your Commuter Pod. Pods R Us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Little LeMans

Many of us in the mini and microcar world are familiar with the Little LeMans -- but the races we associate with that name were the small-bore, production sedan races of the late 50's and early 60's, held at Lime Rock Park in northwestern Connecticut.

This video is clearly a different take on Little LeMans.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Not Every Crosley Racer is a Car

Silly us...

We thought that a search for Crosley racers sould come up with some cool videos of Hot Shots and Super Sports -- and maybe even some of those neat little Crosley-powered H-Mod racers.

But this is what we found. A 1955 Crosley Refrigerator racer. Hmmm.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Car v. Tank -- It Hardly Seems Fair

We don't know what the back story is for this video, but we couldn't resist posting it when we saw it.
Our only advice is -- don't try this at home.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Scooter That's Out of This World

We've all seen our fair share of scooters...Vespas, Piaggios -- even Cushmans. But when was the last time you saw a flying scooter?

Yep. This is a flying jet-scooter. If you don't like the traffic on the ground, this one will take you above it all.

At least that's the concept. You see -- this scooter only exists on paper (or on computer). But...wouldn't it be cool?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Little Subaru...Wow!

Malcolm Briklin orchestrated the introduction of the Subaru 360 to the United States in 1968. The little (356cc) car weighed less thatn 1000 pounds, so it was exempt from the safety standards of the day. Over 300 cars were imported in the first year, and it is estimated that over 10,000 cars were exported to the US -- originally selling for $1,297.

Consumer Reports gave the car a "Not Acceptable" rating in 1969, and sales began to slump -- but it served as the entry for all the Subaru cars that we see here today.

And there is an odd version currently listed on ebay -- described as a Subaru 360 Yacht car, looking like a cross between a Subaru and a Fiat Jolly. You've got to love it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Brütsch Mopetta - A Microcar from Opel?

How could you resist a car like this?

Single-seat, three-wheels -- a commuter's dream. (I guess it would be a nightmare if you met another car, but we'd prefer not to think about that.)

According to Wikipedia, the Brütsch Mopetta was an egg-shaped, single seat, three wheeled microcar designed by Egon Brütsch (who also designed the Spatz Kabinenroller) in 1957 as Brütsch Mopetta using a 50 cc ILO V 50 engine and an open roadster type glass fiber body. Only 14 were built.

A single wheel was in the front. The car was only 67 inches (170 cm) long. There were negotiations with Opel to distribute the car, but only sales brochures were produced.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Electric Microcars - the French have been doing it for years

I went looking for images of the Ford Comuta electric car, and stumbled across this video. It's in French, so I have no idea what the narrator is saying, but the cars speak for themselves.

The first car . . . the small silver microcar that looks like an oddly-shaped Isetta or Heinkel, is really a French creation known as L'Oeuf. Built by Paul Arzens in 1942, this car was featured on the blog back in August of 2008.

The Ford Comuta, an experimental electric car from 1967 can be seen later in the video. This video certainly makes the French appear to be "ahead of the curve".

(The photo of the Comuta is courtesy of Ford Motor Company.)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crosley Hot Shot -- Spin-out at Bridgehampton

Sometimes you get news...sometimes you get history...and sometimes you just get questions.

I guess this is a combination of history and a question.
About one minute into this video there is a Crosley Hot Shot that spins at a corner. According to records I can find, Steve Lansing drove the #6 car in the 1951 100-mile race, finishing the race in 14th place.

But the car in the video sure looks like it has a #61 on the side. Am I losing my eyesight, is it a different car, or a typo. You tell me.

The video is from -- but we found it on The Chicane.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ice Road Smart Car

We found a very cool story (complete with a video) about a pair of Smart Cars taking a trek past the arctic circle -- on the roads made popular by the Ice Roads Truckers TV show.

Posted on Autopia, the story shows that 4-wheels on a Smart Car can go places that we all thought demanded the 18-wheels of one of those big rigs.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Isetta Music Video

We took a chance and typed in "microcar" and "music video" to YouTube, and this is what we got back.

Sure enough -- it's a music video that features an Isetta -- filmed in NYC. Whether you like the music or not, you've got to love the Isetta.