Bigger than your bike, smaller than your typical European parking space
A product of traffic & parking problems in high-density urban areas, small cars have a lot of redeeming qualities. They are endlessly practical, often cute and mostly easy on your wallet. While you'd need to sacrifice much of your space and comforts, you'll have a reward of being considered ecologically & street "smart". Some of the models can go 40 km per liter (100 miles per gallon), which is advertised as "almost cheaper than walking".
Of course soccer moms will still need vans and macho fathers will still need a Hummer statement, but if you live in the urban area, where parking space could cost you as much as $250,000 (link) - these little critters may be just for you. They certainly speak to our sense of esthetic and evoke a strong desire to hug them and pat them on the back.
This would be the first part of a series; let us know about other models and we'll include them later.
1954 Mivalino small car (truly rare find) - Italian Mi-Val motorcycle company's own version of the Messerschmitt KR-175:
This is a very rich collector's category, as there have been multitude of models produced in many countries. It seems the Fifties were the "boom" times for miniature cars. Many prototypes achieved mass production, but their popularity cooled off in the Sixties, and regretfully almost stopped in the Seventies, with compact Japanese imports effectively killing sub-compact market.
Smallest ever car to go into mass production was the fascinating "Peel" P50 car (you could almost carry it as a suitcase) - more info here.
The most easily recognizable of all "bubble cars" of the vintage era, the Isetta evokes the feelings of sophisticated European romance like no other small-budget car. It was seen in many movies of the era, and was quite popular for many years and earned many names. French called it "yogurt pot", Germans "coffin on wheels" (apparently disdaining very little space inside), Italians "little eggs". Originally designed in Italy, Isetta was made by various manufacturers, namely ISO, Velam and BMW.
The American infatuation with the large cars (see evidence here and here), introduced the idea of the "backseat romance", which could not be properly fulfilled in these little vehicles (with the notable exception of Mr. Bean, perhaps, who even mastered the art of fully changing his clothes while driving). Europe and Japan continue to manufacture sub-compacts, with very few of these models seen overseas. Nevertheless, world's ecological situation may dictate another set of rules for all motorists, and we'll see yet another "Golden Age" of micro and "bubble" cars.
Even the smallest vehicle needs some auto parts and accessories. Go to AutoAnything and find Thule Racks or Tonneau covers for the lowest price around. And, whether you have a truck or the world's smallest vehicle, you can't go wrong with a Headrest Monitor.
Europe Seen Through a Temporal Telescope: 1400-1950
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