"QUANTUM SHOT" #645(rev)
Link - article by Avi Abrams

World's Smallest Vehicles: Some Are Ugly, Some Are Cute, All Are Fondly Remembered

As today's economy continues to shake and stagger, most people find themselves in the "savings" and "fuel efficiency" mode when it comes to cars - and so the idea of small, easy to park and to maintain micro cars remains popular. Plus even from purely design and vintage collector's viewpoint, these cars can possess more cuteness and nostalgia factor than your favorite childhood toys. Just like a well-worn toy teddy bear, they are extremely cuddly and adorable.

Some of these models provoke immediate "love it" or "hate it" response... Enjoy this collection and do not miss Part 1 and Part 2 of this popular series.

Want a small pickup truck? Austin A-35 fits the bill:

(image via)

Italian Vespa company made not only the famous scooters, but also cars (1958):

(image via)

Hungary produced many cute/ugly models of micro cars in the 1950s. Here is Alba Regia (left) and Balaton (right), 1956:

(bottom left: 1954 prototype Uttoro; bottom right: Alba Regia)

Is this car frowning? is it grumpy? "Balaton", again:

How many people fit in the car on the left? You must be kidding me:

(image via)

For a more exhaustive look at all Hungarian micro-car models, click here.

Variations of Goggomobile, Spain:

(images via)

Dinarg D-200, also from Argentina, has somewhat haughty and slightly stuck-up demeanor. This model is from 1962:

(images via)

NSU Prinz I, II, III and 30 - from Argentina:

(images via)

NSU Prinz 4 shown below is better known to Russian people as the "New Zaporozhetz" ZAZ-966 - another example of "swiped" design by Soviet automakers:

(left: NSU, via - right: ZAZ, Russia)

NSU Wankel Spider sported some pleasant lines, even though it was really tiny:

Skoda in the Prague Airport:

(image via)

Marathon Corsair had style, too:

German Champion 400, 1953 - more info - also was a convertible:

(images via 1, 2)

Very attractive Crosley convertible from 1947:

(images via)

There was Crosley station wagon, Crosley "Scorpion", 1952:

... and even Crosley Little Chief fire truck (1950):

(images via)

What about today?

Speaking of modern small and micro cars, this example from Lancia, Italy, looks pretty inviting and classy:

(image via)

Nissan Figaro from 1991 had some sophisticated roof retraction mechanism:

(image via)

Rarities of the micro kind

Here is a microcar starring in one Soviet movie... and a green bubble car, blown to some frightening proportions:

(originals unknown)

Then there were micro cars, small concept cars and hot rods that defied characterization. Some of them were designed by George Barris (known as the King of Kustomizers), or Ed Roth, and looked like something from Hot Wheels back catalog:

(images via)

("Orbitron", by Ed Roth, more info)

And we can't forget the sinister "Hannibal" car from the 1965 movie "The Great Race", full of James Bond-worthy tricky gadgetry:

Small Cars in Vintage Rally Competitions

Ideally suited for narrow European roads... and immensely photogenic:

(model of Simca 1000 Rallye 2, Rali de Monte Carlo 1973, via)

(Mini at Monte Carlo Rally, via)

Racing micro-cars seems like fun - more info:

(image via)

Amazingly, even with three articles in this series, we did not cover all microcar models... One good source for collectors is Microcar Club page and Wiki's List of Microcars by country of origin. Also of interest is Minutia - MicroCars Club Magazine. Stay tuned from more coverage of unique vintage automobiles.

(image via)


Don't Miss Part 1 of This Series ->


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Blogger Marcelo Metayer said...

Hey! I'm from Argentina and I never saw these mini cars. They are beautiful.

By the way, of the contemporary "autitos", the one I like most is this: http://bit.ly/c63Wlh

I took this photo on 2008, in La Plata, the city where I live.


Blogger Marcelo Metayer said...

Sorry, I put a wrong URI.
This is the right one: http://bit.ly/ctn79S

Anonymous Charlie Brown said...

I see several cars that doesn't fit in the micro category at all. Mini is mini, but not a micro, and with its more than 3,5 m (11,5ft) length, NSU Prinz is small at best, to name a few.

Tempo is so rare that Indian roads are full of it, it was manufactured under license by Bajaj until 2000:


Blogger Italian Job said...

Microbo 124 is actually italian, noy greek, there's even MILANO written on top left...

Blogger Italian Job said...

found this http://www.wheelsofitaly.com/wiki/index.php/Issi

Autoscooter Microbo 125
was produced by ISSI italy (Istituto Scientifico Sperimentale Industriale)and it was a prototype.

Anonymous Nils Holdrinet said...

Very nice article, although I have to correct you on one thing, the NSU Prinz (and all NSU's for that matter) is from Germany. The company was founded in 1873 and produced knitting machines, bicycles and eventually cars. Some were quite advanced, the Wankel Spider you showed in the article was the first car to have a Wankel engine. In 1969 it was aquired by the Volkswagen Group to merge it with Auto Union and both companies (NSU and Auto Union) became Audi.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How could you list tiny cars without including this?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this nice article. But the Škoda Spartak (on the picture with airplane) is a normal-size car. Typical micro car from Czechoslovakia is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velorex

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

We linked to it in the other part of this series. There are two more parts. Cheers!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of the two cars described as "Goggomobile" is actually Mikrus, manufactured in Poland between 1957 and 1960. For more info:

Anonymous Whitehouse said...

The green bubble car (http://lh3.ggpht.com/_hVOW2U7K4-M/TEjzoPxe7vI/AAAAAAABUb0/fU_MItQo4hY/s720/erhygtrdegtrrgt.jpg ) looks like some novelty product. If you look close you see that it resembles a Volkswagen Transporter T2 bay window van.

Compare with this.

Look at the details as the lights, wheelhubs and air intake under the window.

Anonymous TopDogTom said...

I have been a nut for big V8 iron for years but these are great cars. The simplicity yet complex designs are intriguing.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were lots of small cars in Argentina in the ´60s. Even there was an amphibious one, the so called "autoneta" Ipam Leeds, made at the city of La Plata, and an electric prototype named Isabelita. Others were imported or licensed, like the NSU made by Autoar, or the Fuldamobil, known as Bambi, amongst many others (Joseso, Isetta, Heinkel, Messerschmitt).
De Carlo´s larger models were based on the BMW.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The German Goggomobile (Hans Glas)were made under license in Argentina, and known as the Isard.

Anonymous Tom said...

These are so cool! They even make the Smartcar look big, which I tend to cruise around in given half the chance!

Anonymous Dee said...

All these cars are awesome.. and cute. Lol.

Anonymous soundchaser said...

For those interested, the microcar from the Soviet film is the "Invalidka", a russian car for the disabled.


And the film is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Y_and_Other_Shurik%27s_Adventures

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Czechoslovakian Velorex was also designed for the disabled, although it barely fits even in the microcar category with its wooden frame covered with oilcloth.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The green car which another poster mentioned is a custom built car for an advert. The car was made to look like a "BirdsEye Garden Pea."
You can see the video here:
The explanation being that the "Pea" car is driving around the country but keeps falling apart and it reaches its destination as a mere body shell. A new frozen pea car is revealed from a Birds Eye refrigerated vehicle. The explanation is that fresh vegetables loose vitamins from the moment their picked, Birds Eye vegetables don’t because they are frozen to lock in their goodness.

More info on it here:

Anonymous choto said...

there are some cars on display at Abudhabi car museum you can check the site www.enam.ae

Anonymous Anthony Giuffrida said...

I found some interesting cars on this site: www.microcarbroker.com


Anonymous Anonymous said...

seriously, almost all of these cars are the best cars ever. we should have more of them on the roads. i don't know how someone couldn't like them.

Anonymous Ken David said...

You seem to have forgotten the Honda micro cars, the N360 and N600.
With 2-cyl motorcycle engines the 600 wasn't too bad but the 360 was SLOW.
Although the S-600 and S-800 sports cars aren't micro, they are tiny and have remarkable engines worthy of note.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you Ken, great info, will include in next part.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Reliant Robin??

Anonymous Jim-Bob said...

The Soviet ZAZ 966 and 968 were not copies of the NSU Prinz, but rather both cars copied their lines from the 1960 Chevrolet Corvair. About the only thing they share in common is that they are all rear engine, rear wheel drive vehicles. All used a different engine configuration with the Corvair beign a flat six, the ZAZ having a V4 and the NSU having a inline twin or four, depending on the model and year. The ZAZ chassis has more in common with the VW type 1 than any of the other vehicles mentioned here.


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