Thursday, January 31, 2013

Vintage Micro Minis

    Reminiscent of the little metal "pedal cars" I happily scooted around the sidewalks of my youth, vintage micro cars retain their unique charm even if their utility (and, let's be honest, safety) can sometimes be questionable. What they may lack in speed, luxury and roominess, these little (mostly Post-World War II European-made) contraptions certainly make up for it in "take me home I'm yours" cuteness. Much like Disney's ole Herbie, the Love Bug, micro cars (sometimes known as Kei Cars, or keijidōsha, in Japan) have abundant personality most larger mass assembly vehicles are unfortunately deficient in. These little submarine-like minis are marvels of micro-engineering as well as style and form. And yet they just beg for a hug. Can you imagine a race of all micro minis? Like a Hanna-Barbera "wacky race" come to life.

So let's steal a glance in our rear view mirror shall we, at the micro minis of yesteryear. 
Trusted with our lives. These were the things that moved us.
And they can still move us today, even if they themselves remain motionless.  
Photos courtesy of Darin Schnabel / RM Auctions

And what happened when the mini grew up?
General Motor's Chevy badge worked with Segway, Inc. (and later SAIC Motors in China) to develop these electric autonomous operation bubble cars for urban markets in China and Europe:

"Looks like this R2 Unit has a bad motivator"

For those interested in learning more about these and other unique vehicles,  you can visit the fine folks at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. They have the largest collection in the United States and would be happy to see ya. Happy motoring!

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