Peel Trident

729x191xPeelP50_features_r1_c1.png.pagespeed.ic.hfMk8vxZDBI’ve always loved these little British bubble cars. The 50cc Peel P50 (above), famously driven around the BBC offices at White City by Jeremy Clarkson (and John Humphrys) for Top Gear took the microcar concept to it’s logical conclusion, and gained a Guinness World Record for being the smallest car in the world. Well, you may have heard that the Peel is back. Available in an original 50cc moped engined version, and now a 1.5Kw electric version, it’s made appearances on Dragons Den and Cadbury’s Adverts.

trident_01Since the apparent demise of the Messerschmitt-alike Smite concept,  it’s the space age Trident that would be my microcar of choice. With it’s fifties flying saucer looks, it’s going to turn heads wherever you go. Originally designed as a shopping car, it was classed as a ‘saloon scooter’. The new electric version is fully road legal in the UK. The only fly in the ointment, and its a rather big, Jeff Goldblum sized fly, is it’s range… a measly 15 miles on a full charge. I’d expect it to make it to at least Saturn. trident_03

If you fancy your very own Peel Trident, proudly made in Britain, there’s an handful of them left, with prices starting from £12,999. So, not all that cheep to buy, but incredibly cheap to run… as they say, almost cheaper than walking 🙂

Find out more on the Peel Engineering website.

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Minky business… The Lambretta Bubblecar(s)

1012826_673766576009250_100253005_n 1607062_673789286006979_1068466953_n 1525577_696661540364494_261322690_nRight. I like Lambrettas. I like bubble cars. What could be better than a Lambretta Bubble Car? Well, there was one (or more than one)… or there nearly was one; The Lambretta Mink. Above are pics of a one-off prototype, developed in the 60’s. Details are lost in the murk of history, but we do know it’s powered by a SX200 engine, and is capable of 60mph. The current owner is now looking to sell, so if you’ve got £20k knocking around, contact Ian Frankland (of Taffspeed fame) and he’ll forward you the details (Like those warnings on the +1 channels and iPlayer …if your reading this “in the future” this post was written in January 2014 – don’t pester Mr Frankland).Lawil_s4_berlina_250ccAlthough a complete ‘one off’ the Mink is not totally alone in the Lambretta microcar stakes. There is the previously featured Lambretta Willam… (above) a boxy little car, but with a certain childlike charm about it… it looks like it was designed by a seven year old, in a good way. There’s even a video if you follow the link.

Avolette-1 Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum / RM AuctionsAlso from France, and slightly smoother Lambretta like curves, more along the lines of the Mink is the Avolette. A proper “bubble car” almost of bumper car proportions and appearance. There were several incarnations of this little beauty, with power units from Sachs and Maico. One of the key features of this little gem was the single “cyclops” headlight. The “New Avolette” was a Lambretta engined variant shown at the Cycle-Salon in 1957, but never making it as far as production. The pics come from the Glumso Smart Drivers blog, which has much more info here.

There are of course, the successful Lambro range of commercial vehicles from Lambretta, but these fall into a slightly different category of “micro-commercial” in my book.

Double Bubble

attica1I’ve got a bit of a thing for microcars, or ‘bubble’ cars if you will. You may have spotted a couple of posts, spread through blog. It’s a bit of an odd fixation…but I suppose I look upon bubble cars pretty much like the Germans do when they call them Kabinenroller – which translates as “Cabin Scooters” …and that’s pretty much how I see them, rather than cars, scooters with roofs. And when my waterproofs are leaking (again) they seem eminently sensible!

Anyway… there’s the usual suspects of Messerschmitts and Isettas, which are probably the best known of the bunch (The Lambretta & Vespa of the microcar world, if you will), but, as with scooters, there are a whole bunch of lesser known marques… including the next rank, Heinkels, Subarus (Post coming soon on these) and even one from Piaggio, the Vespa 400. One I had never come across before though is this Greek bubble… (hence the Double Bubble title for those of you who know their CRS).

It’s called a Attica 200, and was produced in Greece from 1968 to 1971, with a fair degree of success in the greek home market. To my mind it’s got some nice lines, kind of like the offspring of a Heinkel Trojan and an old Saab 93. Which is a good thing. Should you wish to know more, Wikipedia provides a few facts as usual, I won’t trouble you with them here. I will give a shout out to the excellent Sake Racers blog, where I found the image originally, and just to get things back on track, here’s a link to the Lambretta Club Hellas, our Lambretta riding friends in sunny Greece. So that’s two Greek flavoured posts in one week… funny how things work out.

Cool electric concept from ’68

It seems that electric vehicles are finally becoming a reality… with even companies like BMW getting in on the act. There is, of course the eBretta (1st tenuous Lambretta link), the electric reincarnation of the Lambretta, being developed in Vietnam.tumblr_myglnt81RB1r8dlh9o1_1280

But this is not a new thing… Back in 1968 the US car firm, AMC, now long defunct produced this concept. With a top speed of 50mph, and a claimed range of 150 miles (remember, this was the 60’s) this looking like a viable city commuter vehicle. Perhaps if petrol (or gas, as our American cousin’s insist on calling it) had got more expensive stateside, and they’d managed to make the Nickel Cadmium and Lithium Nickel Fluoride batteries more affordable, we might have seen these go into production.amcelc02I love the whole retro futuristic vibe of these, and design wise, they remind me of the Bond Bug, with a bit of Bertone thrown in (2nd tenuous Lambretta link). They were actually designed by Dick Teague, who’s finest moment, in my book was the ‘hot wheels’ looking AMX-GT. How this never made it into full production is a mystery to me. I’d always assumed it had… maybe it’s the Hot Wheels effect made me think that!

800px-1968_AMC_AMX-GT_ShowCar_Type2QCars that did make it into production are the Pacer, you know the one with the huge, bulbous rear window… and a superfunky “compact” called the Gremlin, both clearly sharing some AMX-GT DNA.amc-gremlin-01

And, although as well as being a stunning piece of design, the Gremlin was purportedly a good, reliable, and inexpensive motor… but I can’t help thinking the marketing department could have come up with a name that didn’t suggest that it was full of faults. Anyway, it’s a shame the AMC brand, which seemed so innovative and forward looking didn’t achieve more sustained commercial success… but it was fighting a losing battle against the US “Big 3” of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as European and Japanese imports.

Find out more about AMC on the excellent and entertaining Musclehead blog, here.

This is one of my irregular “not a Lambretta” posts… normal service will be resumed soon 🙂

Achtung, Messerschmitt!

Originally posted on my old design blog… great bubble car brochure!

Crocodile Jock

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I like a microcar. I think, given the price of petrol at the moment, and the need to be more eco concious, it’s a bit mad that most people still drive around, alone in a vehicle designed to carry four or more people.

I’ve posted about the Morgan Threewheeler  and the Bond Bug, as well as The Smite before, a modern re-imaginging of the Messersmitt KR200.
Well, here is a fantastic brochure I have found for the original Messerschmitt.

I think it’s in Spanish, maybe if I get five minutes I’ll have a go with Google Translate and post some of the copy in English. In the meantime, enjoy the glorious period graphics.
I found it here.

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BMW eSetta concept

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I know, I know, it’s been a while. And back I come, not with a Lambretta post at all, but another microcar. What can I say, I love ’em. Messerschmitt’s and Isetta’s particualrly. And like the Smite that I have written about previously, the concept I’m posting about today has obvious DNA of one of those originals, but this time the Isetta.

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It’s the work of Tony Weichselbraun, a recent graduate of the University of Applied Arts in Viennna, the eSetta was part of his Diploma, I can’t put it any better than the man himself, so here’s what he says about it on his coroflot page:

“The eSetta is an urban electric vehicle indended as a car sharing platform. It is inductively charged at sharing hubs, thereby eliminating the unfound fear of limited range through empty batteries. Its design is inspired by the legendary BMW Isetta. The front door slides and rotates, allowing passengers to enter and exit the vehicle via sidewalk. By giving the car a highly recognizable and friendly appearance, I intended to reinforce the positive aspects of car sharing.”

Well, I certainly think he’s pulled off freindly… it’s got more than a hint of puppy dog about it… I’d almost expect a wagging tail!, and while I always prefered the 3 wheeled variant of the original Isetta, four works pretty good here, I can see that it uses the available cabin space better. Tiny wheels though! So, would I choose this (in the unlikely event of it ever going into production), or my pevious favoutrite, the Smite? A bit of an accademic question, as neither look like they’ll be on sale any time soon. But if they both were, lets just say it would be a close run thing.

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Tenuos Lambretta link? (apart from the “etta” suffix), this kind reminds me of the way the Fido electric scooter concept kinda looked like a model D, as I poster way back. 

The Smite – a modern reincarnation of the classic Messerschmitt bubble car

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I posted about this little beauty on my other blog, here, ages ago. Then it all went a bit quiet. … nothing. No updates on the website, nada. Until I spotted a link to this video on Facebook. I seriously want one of these… it would ‘go’ so well with my Series 2…The colour even matches (in the video). I’ll keep you updated if I hear more!

The official Smite website (hasn’t been updated for a while)
And Smite on Facebook  (a better bet for more up-to-date stuff)

Bear with me… I’m struggling to embedd the video into this post. Until I do here’s a link to it: SMITE Video

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Lambretta Willam

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A quick bit of “research” has garnered more information on the Lambretta/Willam story. Basically M. Willam was president of Lambretta France, his connections allowing him to create a large microcar empire in France in the next two decades. Willam was basically a marketing label for a variety of foreign-made vehicles to be sold in France. As head of Lambretta S.A.F.D. in Levallois-Peret, M.H. Willam first presented Lambretta-engined prototypes at the Paris Salon in 1966, which were actually manufactured by Scattolini in Italy.In 1967, he formed an alliance with Lawil (which is surely a contraction of Lambretta and Willam) of Italy, which produced a range of microcars sold in France under the names Willam City and Wilam Farmer. It would appear their main selling point was you didn’t need a proper driving licence to drive one… only a Permis A1. If you’re better versed than me in obscure, obsolete French transport regulations, please feel free to put me right.

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The “Sulky” which has to be a candidate for the oddest looking, oddest named car ever award, was ‘powered’ by a Casalini moped engine… 50 or (gasp) 60cc of pure power.

Although, in it’s defence… it has got a good turning circle 🙂 

 

Find out more on the excellent Microcar museum website, and on the (also excellent) Cybermotorcycle. Next post will be back to scooters, I promise!

French Lambretta Willam 125cc Microcar

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One of the best things about being a Lambrettista is that you are always learning… I’ve never even heard of a “Lambretta Willam Microcar” before, but there’s one for sale on eBay…

Apparently Monseuir Willam was president of Lambretta France in the late 1960’s and he created  microcars from 1967-72. Powered by a 125cc Lambretta engine, it’s not going to be beating any Ferrari’s away from the lights, but it’s kinda cute in a “Postman Pat” way. Somebody else has obviously made that link too… check out the (non legal, I’m assuming) numberplate.
Check it out on eBay here.