Micro Mini Car Day

At the Larz Anderson Auto Museum on Saturday, July 12, 2008

microcar2.jpgIf you find yourself within driving distance of Brookline, Massachusetts Saturday, stop by and partake in Micro Mini Car Day. I attended this annual event five years ago and loved it. The playful ingenuity of participating cars from the 50’s, 60’s, and today is sure to delight folks this year as well. It's better than a hands-off show; rides are offered around the lawn in some of the pint-sized treasures. Don’t be surprised to see young and old lining up in anticipation.

Micro and mini cars were originally the genius of post World War II European engineers looking to devise modest cars that could be operated by injured veterans. To the industry’s surprise, these cars caught on with a far broader audience. Recognizing an opportunity, aircraft manufacturers, barred from aircraft design due to the Reparations Act, switched gears and began designing cars. Theirs was a fresh approach to devising an affordable mode of transportation. Micro cars with single-cylinder engines were capable of traveling up to 80 miles on a gallon of gas. They were highly maneuverable and most of all downright loveable.

Take the BMW Isetta (shown above). This microcar with 10” diameter wheels features a single, side-hinge entry door across the front that includes the dashboard and steering wheel. Outfitted with bug-eyed (or perhaps pug-eyed) headlights, two chrome bumper arms, and a flush snout, this two-seater has personality. In 1958 you could get an Isetta for around $1,000. Today, you can’t help but smile upon seeing one. These fuel-efficient wonders hint at not just the past, but the future. Go for a ride; you’ll see.

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast