A Micro Marathon… Part one

As promised, following on from the blog about the Liege-Brescia-Liege microcar rally here’s the story of our adventures in Mario’s brother Nippy a 1967 Subaru 360, the following year on the Micro Marathon…Layout 1

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly I had really enjoyed navigating for James on the Liege-Brescia-Liege in 2008 so when the organisers came up with a sequel in 2009 to drive the ‘little’ cars from Toulouse to Carcassonne via the Pyrenees and Spain, we jumped at the chance. Victor and Craig in Kato the other Subaru also came along, so we set off with both Subaru 360’s on an adapted trailer. A late tunnel crossing, a night in a motel and 12 long hours driving later we arrived at the start.trailer

Day 1 – Saturday 5 September Toulouse to Barèges
Day one started from a Fiat dealership in Toulouse. It was a beautiful sunny day and we headed off into the foothills of the Pyrenees using fairly small country roads. The scenery was instantly beautiful travelling through villages with very old buildings and lush farmland. By lunchtime we had ascended our first Col – 1069m.MM_0059

The afternoons route took us up several of the major climbs of the ‘Tour de France’, the roads where covered with painted names of cyclists and many cols had statues celebrating cycling achievements, culminating in the Col de Peyresourde 1569m, Col d’Aspin 1490m and Col du Tourmalet 2115m. The view were stunning and the passes mainly pasture with lots of cows, sheep and goats, and not heavily wooded like those in the Alps. We were amazed by the huge vultures sitting by the side of the road. The two Subarus performed well, the actual gradient determining which would climb better the 4 gear Kato or 3 gear Nippy. Some parts where very steep, a challenge for the cars. Fellow competitors Mick and Sara Bell in the BMW Isetta had also done most of these passes by bike! Both Subaru’s made the hotel in Barèges without problems but some of the other competitors were already experiencing difficulties. We went further up the mountain by bus for a very social evening in a lovely Auberge Chez Louisette.MM_0098montage-Day-1DSCN3058MM_0145 DSCN3125 DSCN3128 DSCN3134 DSCN3208

Day 2 – Sunday 6 September Barèges to San Sebastián
An early start dawned with a 7am breakfast, it was very cold as we were at high altitude but the sun was on the way up and it was another beautiful day. The day stated with some more high cols – The Col du Soulor 1474m and the Col d’Aubisque, where we found huge bicycles on the mountainside. The wildlife was tremendous with Vultures and other huge birds of prey watching the huge horses and herds of cattle and goats.DSCN3253 MM_0225IMG_1949

The event is a navigational exercise with photo checkpoints as passage controls to prove you have taken the correct route. The small cars only have small fuel tanks and once again in Rural France on a Saturday, petrol was an issue and we had to deviate on a 20km round trip to fill up. The Isetta had such a small tank it had to carry two spare cans strapped on the back.

day2-montageThe whole day was spent going up and down cols, The Col de la Pierre St-Martin 1760m marked the border into Spain, the descent was a beautiful new smooth road, but we soon turned off this onto a ‘forest road’ which was barely tarmacked and wound it’s way through some spectacular deserted woodland. A final three cols saw us drop down to the coast and to our destination, the cosmopolitan, San Sebástian. While James and Craig looked at Kato’s brakes which had been giving some concern,, Vic and I walked down to the crowded beach to take our ‘feet in the Atlantic’ pics for PC18 which ended up with rally photographer Mike taking a pic of Vic taking a pic of Me! After a meal in the hotel, we had another walk down to the beach before retiring to the Hotel bar where the ‘Irish’ teams introduced us to G&T Spanish style – a bottle of Bombay Sapphire for five glasses. Theo and John in the Heinkel have been suffering a major problem with the wheel spline and so are retiring the car back to Toulouse and going to follow the rest of the event in their camper van.MM_0309DSCN3320DSCN3336

Day 3 – Monday 7 September San Sebastián to Logroño
Lovely sunny start in San Sebastián, Kato’s brakes seemed fine but Nippy was developing a rather loud exhaust. I drove along a very pretty coast and then into the hills to Olaberria where we had the first kart track test. The cars were all unloaded, partly to avoid loose stuff rolling around and a serious attempt by the boys to lower the weight! The bogey time of 1:19:2 set for this course was impossible for the Subarus to obtain but they had a good attempt and we ended up with 16 penalty points and Craig driving Kato, only had six although as James said he didn’t have an internal ‘squealing brake’ I think he meant me! We repacked the cars and continued along the route which had a couple of tricky controls, one was very early compared with the position given and hence easy to miss and one was very late but they kept everybody on their toes and we cleared them all. We stopped for lunch at an interesting abandoned monastery with Vic & Craig, Loree & Kevin in the Trabant and Mark & Jane in the Messerschmitt. Local children appeared from the middle of nowhere to have a look at the cars.Day3 montage DSCN3376 DSCN3377MM_0361 DSCN3393

Very changing scenery from coast to hills, to open heathland and then gorges before finally into the extensive vines of Rioja. A much shorter day and we all arrived at Bordegas Heredad Ugarte (a huge vineyard) early so we took the opportunity to spend a couple of hours trying to seal Nippy’s exhaust and plotting the maps. At 5pm we were allowed in for a guided tour and tasting, although Rioja isn’t really to our taste the most expensive one was quite pleasant! Another 30-40km into Logroño to the hotel. After dinner James and I had a walk around the old town, it was very pleasant to be outside at 10pm in 28º. We finished the day at a pavement bar outside the hotel for more G&Ts.Day3 rjoca montage DSCN3455 MM_0422

 Day 4 – Tuesday 8 September, Logroño to Alcañiz
As soon as we left Logroño, we were straight into a very hot and barren landscape, initially there were still vines and olives but these soon gave out to rocky fields with strips of wheat in any place that could be farmed. There were wind turbines and fields of solar panels as far as the eye could see. The exhaust on Nippy had been getting louder and louder to the point of needing earplugs and about half a mile after stopping to refuel, the expansion box fell off. Luckily as we had been in such a remote area we were still in the small village of Casante and managed to find a workshop where they very kindly let James use the ramp and welding equipment to fix the exhaust system, which was now in five parts. The Spanish garage was so helpful, especially as we had no language in common. You just can’t see Health and Safety in the UK allowing someone to just wander in and use all the garage equipment!DSCN3508 DSCN3509 DSCN3516 DSCN3523 DSCN3528

In just over an hour we were back on the road with an amazing ‘lunar like’ landscape and some nice long straight roads to be able to catch up time. We arrived in Belchite a town destroyed in the Spanish Civil War and left as it was as a monument. Several of the cars seemed to be a little unhappy, maybe after the long straight roads, running faster than usual in the extreme heat, it was 35º+.
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We carried on to Alcañiz and the fantastic new motorsport complex Motorland Aragón. This site still under development has a 2km international Kart Circuit which we were going to use. As the sun was setting we got to do 3 laps – warm up, timed and slow down. We could all watch from the bar area, with Vic & Craig and Mark & Jane in the Messerschmitt being equal on points it was a critical part of the weeks event. The Messerschmitt had a 500cc engine and was very quick but they were too fast and had to slow for the line to try to get the bogey time. Craig drove the 360cc Subaru superbly and was spot on time.DSCN3601 DSCN3606 DSCN3609 MM_0792 MM_0803 MM_0805

All was going well but that was all to change… the adventure will continue in the next blog.

 

 

Little cars also tackle the mountains…

As you know Mario doesn’t go that far from home but his ‘little brother’ Nippy a 1967 Subaru 360 has been a bit more adventurous and in 2008 James drove and Jane navigated him on the Leige Brescia Leige Microcar Rally a unique event for small cars.360team

The story really starts in 1958 when in response to the Suez Crisis car manufacturers of the day entered their new sub 500cc models to prove that their performance and economy was a match of their ‘big brothers’. The original event was run over  3 days through Belgium, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia and Italy. The only stop was in Brescia where the remaining entrants turned round and headed for home. Run over a mix of terrain from the newly opened Autostrada to the dirt roads of the high passes, the event was a test of true endurance and only 13 of the original 30+ entrants finished. One of the cars was driven by Pat Moss and others by top competitors of the day.liege-brescia-liege-2011
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Half a century later it was decided to run the event again, although in consideration for the age of the vehicles and the comfort of the competitors the event was over 10 days. Closely following the original 2400 mile route but avoiding the motorways the rally went from Liege-Karlsruhe-Munich-Cortina-Ljubijana-Bolzano-Brescia-Bolzano-Munich-Karlsruhe-Liege and finished 50 years to the day of the original. The event was organised by Malcolm McKay of Classic Rally Press.DSCN1316

We started the event as a three car team of Subaru 360’s, us in Nippy, our friends Victor and Craig in Kato and Terry and Steve in a 360 belonging to Subaru which had recently been recommissioned. We trailered the cars to Liege and the actual event set off on July 10th 2008. The event was a navigational exercise with photo checkpoints, we had to take identical photo’s showing our car to prove we had been there and completed the whole route. DSCN1331

58 cars started the event including Fiat 500, BMW Isetta and 600/700, Berkeley, NSU Prinz, Goggomobile, Vespa, Messerschmitt, Citroen 2cv, Zandapp Janus and Heinkel.DSCN2662DSCN2736

The weather was terrible with teaming rain which was to last for the next 4 days. Our first stop was at Spa where we did some very soggy timed laps of the Kart Circuit. A long drive followed and Jane on her first rally, soon learnt the rally rules – you only stop when you can do everything at once – refuel, eat, drink and pee! DSCN1387

We crossed the Rhine and arrived at the first stop in Karlsruhe. Unfortunately the third Subaru had been having problems all day, they finally arrived at the hotel on a tow truck after Midnight, James set to work and took the engine out but it was a terminal problem and they had to retire. Team Subaru was down to two cars.DSCN1417DSCN1426

Day two was another test on a local kart circuit, followed by a day of tricky navigation to arrive at the BMW museum in Munich.

From Munich we travelled through the Black Forest and into Austria and over the Brenner pass into Italy. At 1375m this was our first real pass and our first opportunity to see how the ‘little’ cars performed – we were pleasantly surprised. We arrived in Cortina at the splendid Hotel Miramonti Majestic Grand, a great setting for the little cars.DSCN1521DSCN1542DSCN1588DSCN1595

We were now high in the Dolomites and day four included several high passes to reach the Slovenian border, some of them driven in heavy hail storms and as many of the hairpins were still traditionally cobble stones it wasn’t the most comfortable journey. The rally spent the night in Ljubljana, a fantastic city.We were allowed to park the cars up in the famous Preseren Square where they attracted a great deal of attention including TV crews covering our arrival.DSCN1725DSCN1757ljubljanaDSCN1773

The next morning we finally had sunny weather as we crossed back into Italy and a lovely lunch stop at a great family museum. Three more passes including Passo di Pordoi 2239m. Many of the field were late into Bolzano and lots of fettling was required. The Isetta didn’t make it until 5am after having to make major repairs in Ljubljana.DSCN1839

Dissappointingly due to all the storms, the Stelvio pass was closed with a landslide but after a deviation we managed to double back and still climb the Gavia from the Southside and get the Passage Control photo at the summit, at 2621m it’s not much lower than the Stelvio 2757m.

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Once back down it was a very pleasant run along the shores of Lago di Iseo and into Brescia. In the town we were welcomed with a civic reception with all the cars in the main square as on the original 1958 event, they even ‘broke the cheese’ where a whole Grande Pandano was opened for us to taste, a great honour.Brescia2DSCN2149DSCN2161

Day 7 started with a trip around the impressive Mille Miglia museum and then set off back to Bolzano, actually managing to stop for lunch on the way. Getting out of Bolzano the next morning wasn’t easy but we were soon climbing the Passo Pennes at 2215m it was one of the best of the rally.DSCN2181DSCN2193DSCN2320DSCN2432

After another night in Munich we had a lovely drive through the German countryside with several stops at motor museums and the impressive Schloss Lichtenstein, this fairytale castle perches on a steep cliff and is a spectacular sight.DSCN2505DSCN2591

The final day saw us back at Karlsruhe kart circuit where we had much better times in the dry, although by the time we’d got back through Spa in the afternoon it was inevitably raining again. We finished back at Liege for the prize giving. We won our class with Victor and Craig second and Jane won the Ladies prize so a very successful evening with a lot of celebrating.DSCN2775DSCN2800DSCN2810DSCN2833DSCN2902

We all had a great time even though we were a bit tired and grumpy at times. The event although quite straightforward for James was a challenge in such little cars and Jane enjoyed her first event and got into the spirit of classic rallying. We all enjoyed it so much that we did it again a year later but that’s for another blog.

The sun has got his hat on… and beach cars come out to play.

The sun is finally shining so time for the long awaited post on Beach Cars.

Beach cars are what were essentially small inexpensive production cars that were heavily modified to produce bespoke and individual vehicles. Used initially by the rich and famous in the 50’s and 60’s, as land tenders to their yachts on the Italian or French Riviera. With cutaway roofs and doors, wickerwork seats and fabric sunshades they were only practical as leisure transport and thus confirmed their owner’s status as someone who could afford a car ‘just for fun’.

Later on more models were developed and some went on to have small production runs. Many were used by expensive hotels and golf clubs as courtesy vehicles. The small numbers produced has resulted in them being as desirable and expensive today.
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Nobody seems to know for sure how the first beach cars came about but this converted Fiat Topolino/Belvedere ‘Mare’, believed to be unique must be a strong contender for the title of ‘first beach car’. Thought to be converted in 1954 when Italian’s could barely afford a bicycle – a fun car to go to the beach in would have been a wild extravagance, only available to a few very wealthy individuals. It is thought that it may have been created by Fiat’s in-house special bodies department, the Carozzeria Speciale and was possibly owned by Fiat Chairman Gianni Agnelli who was certainly wealthy enough and had the influence to have had it made, this also fits in with the development of the beach car in later years.

This car is currently for sale!
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Later in the 50’s, it is known that Gianni Agnelli sent a Fiat 500 to Ghia Carrozzeria, the brief; to cut off the top, remove the doors, and install a folding surrey top and wicker seats. The result was the first Fiat Jolly (Jolly in Italian means Joker).

Agnelli’s car created a lot of attention and soon a limited production run was underway but many were hand made to order and specification. Aristottle Onassis owned three of them, Yul Brenner, John Wayne, Grace Kelly and even Mae West all reportedly owned Jollys and US President Lyndon Johnson used one on his Texas ranch.
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Further models were produced based on first the 500 and then the 600. Considered a success, the model had a production run from 1958 to 1966. It is believed that more than 400 ‘Jolly’s’ were made but the seaside conditions they were kept in meant that fewer than 100 survive worldwide today and each one is pretty much unique.

The cars’ specification included cut-down sides and windshield, a striped and fringed surrey top, and chromed body-pipework. They were available in pink, coral, white, pale yellow and sky blue. Mechanicals were standard Fiat. An “economical” version was available from 1964 to 1966 featuring normal bumpers with no pipework and solid plastic seats embossed with a fake wicker pattern.
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Jolly’s were also made based on the 600 Multipla which had the advantage of another row of seats with the middle row facing backwards1958_Ghia_Fiat_600_Multipla_Jolly_01_1 1958_Ghia_Fiat_600_Multipla_Jolly_02 scan001
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In 1956 Pininfarina designed special version based on the Multipla for the Agnelli family to use in their personal home the Villa Leopolda – The special 600 was called the ‘Eden Roc’ or ‘Marine’ after the promontory overlooking Cap d’Antibes on the Cote d’Azur where the villa is situated. The little Fiat was used to shuttle guests around the 20-acre villa and town. In the late ’60s, this car was taken to Turin and used by Fiat President Prof. Valletta for guests to visit the Fiat factory.

The Eden Roc has a beautiful ‘boat like’ wrap around slatted wood seat and is cut lower than many beach cars. A surviving example is owned by the ‘Cord’ family in America and has been displayed at the world’s great Concours competitions. It has been reported that Henry Ford II also owned this model. The first picture is an original Pininfarina press photo which we found at auto jumble many years ago.scan007

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A similar car has been used as a ViP course car at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. We were lucky enough to see it and sit in it. I believe it is known as the Fiat Torpedo Marina, there seems some confusion as to who made it but Felice Mario Boano may have designed it when he had his own company but then he went on to establish the styling department for Fiat and passed the rights to produce the Torpedo to Carrozzeria Savio. There is one in a Paris Museum and one might have been owned by Prince Ranier, possibly the one still being used in Monaco?
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This is another version designed by Boano/Carrozzeria Savio1958 Fiat 600 Spiaggina (Savio-Boano)

Fissore designer Giovanni Michelotti came up with a remarkable open-topped Multipla prototype called the “Marinella”. Only a handful of the prototypes were made but at least one remains and was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed a few years ago.
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Fissore designed a very similar vehicle, this 1957 Fiat Marionella 600M was shown at the 1957 Turin Salon a one off and hence one of the rarest beach car built on the Multipla Chassis. The unique roof allowed water skis to be carried above the passengers. The car was in Rome for many years before being restored and sold at auction in 2005 for €57,500.
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Vignale also produced several Beach Cars based on Multiplas. This one a Fiat 600 Marina from 1963, rather uniquely has the rear seats facing sideways with a chrome bar to hold the passengers in.
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A Vignale design the Fiat 600 Spiagetta (1956)fiat_600_spiagetta_1

Also by Vignale a Fiat Multipla Spiaggia (1956)
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Elio and Emilio Basano were young brothers who started up a small prototype shop in Torino about 1960 In 1962 Pietro Sibona, a master at metal working, left Ghia and became the brothers’ main partner in Carrozzeria Sibona-Basano. In 1964 at the Turin show they exhibited a little beach car based on the Fiat 500 with a moulded plastic body called the Decathlon.decathlon_s

Beach cars continued beyond the 500 and 600. In the late 60’s Giovanni Michelotti in collaboration with yacht designer Phillip Schell went on to design the Fiat Michelotti Shellette Beach Car, based on a Fiat 850 spider with dramatic and areo styling. Only 80 were built, one was used by Jacqueline Onassis on the island of Skorpios. Ten are still known to exist.scan003

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Moretti designed their own cars but due to costs went on to produce several special bodies for Fiats. In 1970 they launched the Fiat 500 Moretti Beach Car known as the MIni Maxi, only 90 where produced. The design was quite different and more ‘Jeep’ like. The company went on to produce similar models based on the Fiat 126 and then the Midi Maxi 127 in 1971.
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Although the small Fiat’s were perfect and popular for conversion to Beach Cars, other manufacturers vehicles also had the same treatment.

Renault…
The Renault 4CV Resort Special. In 1960, fifty (consecutively numbered) 4CVs were dispatched from the Renault Billancourt factory in France to Ghia in Italy to be built as Resort Specials. There was only the single batch of fifty cars built, with all of the finished vehicles originally being sent to the States for sale. Apparently only eleven of them are now thought to have survived.
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The Renault 4 Plein Air is a beach car conversion of a regular Renault 4 R1123 by Sinpar, a Renault subsidiary for special products. Only about 500 R4′s were converted to Plein Airs between 1968 and 1970.
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Sommerautos / Renault Plein Air

Daf…
This beach car was also styled by Giovanni Michelotti and based on a DAF, one was given by the factory to the Dutch Royal family and was used for many years at their Italian Summer Residence.
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Designed by Moretti, this BMW 600 has hardly been used and has recently been restored. It is being auctioned at the end of this month with a guide price of €30-40k. On it’s registration documents it is known as a Isetta Moretti Open Car.
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Isetta Moretti 2 IsettaMini…
In Italy a coach builder called ORO built the Mini Mare on a Innocenti Mini base, only a few were made and one was used as a private tender to Ferdinando Innocenti’s private yacht. The cars retained their roof but lost the doors, fitted with wooden surrounds and wickerwork seats, grille, boot lid and bumpers.
Innocenti Mini Mare 1 Innocenti Mini Mare 1 Innocenti Mini Mare 2img4484pyBack in the UK, BMC built a small number of ‘Beach Wagons’, designed by Chief Stylist Dick Burzi around 16 were made for use in luxe hotels around the world. There were two versions, one on the traditional Mini shape and one with a boot based on the elf/hornet. The third picture shows Alec Issigonis in his design.
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Sir Alec Issiggonis also designed a more rugged version of the Mini in a ‘jeep’ style but it failed to catch on as a military vehicle as was intended, however in the 60’s the Mini Moke caught on as a Beach Buggy and became a popular cult vehicle being used as beach cars all over the world.
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As was the 2cv based Citroen Mehari
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Alfa Romeo
While not strictly fitting the beach car description of a converted small inexpensive car this 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia was converted for Alfa Romeo by Colli into a limousine beach car. Apparently it was used to ferry ViP’s especially the Italian President around the Alfa Romeo factory.
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What was good in the past is still good today…
In very recent years manufacturers have come up with a host of modern Beach Cars based on current small production cars such as the new Fiat 500…DSCN7649DSCN7650DSCN7651DSCN7652DSCN7654226611CASTAGNA500Tender2Summer201001f-610x400CASTAGNA500Tender2Summer201004f

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… and the ‘Portofino’ using a Fiorino Combi small van.fiat-fiorino-portofino-motorauthority-002_100207232_mfiat-van-portofino-01

Even more futuristic is the 2013 Toyota ME.WE concept car.Toyota_ME_WE_001 toyota_me.we_concept_1

Or  Swiss car visionary Frank M Rinderknecht’s concept the Rinspeed Bam Boo, a modern beach car paying homage to the Citroen Mehari. Now Frank says he will show his concept at the Geneva Motor Show. “This open-top vehicle awakens the longing for sun, summer, for lightness and easiness, the desire to be at the beach,”cries his press release. “It is a reminiscence of the Seventies, of the south of France and St. Tropez. One expects to find Brigitte Bardot behind the wheel with playboy Gunther Sachs at her side heading towards Tahiti beach.”
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rinspeed-bamboo-10Note: I’ve really enjoyed putting this post together but it has grown as I’ve been researching it! Information is rather hard to find and the fact that at the time many of the designers were moving between companies and that many of the cars are unique has made it difficult to find out accurate information, especially regarding names, dates and designers. Hopefully most of the info here is correct, if you know differently please let me know!

 

Oh to be a millionaire…

On February 15/16 in Madison, Georgia, USA, RM Auctions will be holding a sale of the entire collection from the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum. There are some 200 microcars up for sale and how I would love to add some to our ‘small’ family but we would need to have a significant win on the lottery first!

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Now what is strange about this auction is that it isn’t the first time it’s happened. Bruce Weiner an American who made his fortune in Bubble Gum, I believe started collecting ‘bubble cars’ many many years ago to promote his business. He went on to build a collection, opened a museum and then on the 6 March 1997 they were auctioned by Christie’s at the Jack Barclay Showrooms at Nine Elms, London.

We were there and that’s what fuelled our love of small cars. That auction was amazing, there was such an atmosphere with hundreds of people crammed in and outside the showroom and prices went ballistic. Bidding was frantic with prices beating the estimates many times over, bearing in mind this was fifteen years ago a Peel Trident estimated at £3000 fetched nearly £30k and it looks like it will be happening all over again.

At  the time we already had Regie the Renault 4cv and had fallen in love with the idea of getting an original Fiat Multipla, there was one in the Auction with a guide price of £500, so we went to have a look. It wasn’t that good, needed a lot of work and ended up selling for the best part of £3000.

There is a Multipla in the upcoming sale, it looks much better than the one in 1997 (the catalogue photography is beautiful but obviously ‘processed’ so would be interested to see the real condition) but the current guide price is $50-60k! Mario will be watching the sale with interest, although to us he is priceless.

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Now what happened 15 years ago… well for Bruce it was the thrill of the chase that excited him and collecting and displaying his finds, so once he had sold his original collection he began collecting again and so here we are all these years later and the much improved and enlarged collection is going to auction again.

Bruce says “To me, it’s all about the thrill of the chase,” Weiner adds. “My collection has brought me incredible joy over the years, but simply finding and restoring these cars is not enough for me. In order to fully appreciate them, I need to share them. I’m really looking forward to the sale and happy that these unique cars will be spread to other passionate collectors throughout the world. As I see it, we’re enlarging the microcar community by letting these go and helping keep history alive.”

Amongst the lots is a Peel Trident, the car that took our interest all those years ago. This 1966 model is now estimated at $40-50k not such a big increase as the Multipla. I actually got to sit in one at the Goodwood Revival in 2005 and there really isn’t much room but we always fancied having one so we could dress up and look like aliens.BW13_r123_01DSCN2607 So what we would we bid on if we won the lottery. My favourite has to be this fantastic 1957 Jurisch Motoplan Prototype, it’s amazingly cute but with only three ever being made and an estimate of $50-75k looks unlikely to be joining the collection.BW13_r127_01
Next up would be this 1956 Fuldamobil S-6 $40-50k
BW13_r150_01 and this mad looking 1955 Inter 175A Berline $40-50kBW13_r212_01 A beautiful 1959 Frisky Family 3 is more affordable at $15-20kBW13_r256_01Or this adorable 1962 Mazda R360 Coupe at $20-30k which would be a great stable companion for our Subaru 360.
BW13_r217_01Or one that’s been on the wish list for a while a 1961 Autobianchi Bianchia Special Cabriolet just like Audrey Hepburn drove round Rome in ‘How to steel a Million’BW13_r232_01

The maddest thing in the auction and probably the most expensive is the 1959 BMW Isetta “Whatta Drag” a working creation of a Hot Wheels model. Not sure how practical it would be though. See it run in this video.BW13_r268_01So if we come into a fortune in the next couple of weeks I will be bidding like mad for some of these beauties. There are loads more oddities and rare examples plus lots of the more usual microcars up for grabs as well as an extensive collection of models and memorabilia, take a look at the online catalogue.

RM are putting on a very slick auction with a fantastic ‘micro’ catalogue which runs to 800+ pages and I’m sure will become a collectors item in it’s own right but comes with an $80 price tag, to get into the auction itself there is a charge of $150 for two people, there seems to be lots of hype already so maybe the audience will be as excited as in 1997 and the already high estimates will be exceeded. I suppose this will be good for the small car market in general but frenzied bidding creating over high prices which will never be realised in the normal sales market and will only lead to disappointment when microcars are sold or valued after the event so we will have to wait and see. Whatever happens it will raise the profile of small cars around the world and hopefully more people will grow to appreciate them for what they are – great examples of design and above all such a lot of fun.