July 26, 2008

A car that would fit in your SUV's glove compartment

Messerschmitts got lots of attention

"Compact" doesn't begin to tell the story of the micro cars that visited Monument Square Saturday.

These mostly Minis, Isettas, Citroens, a Zundapp, Messerschmitts and a teeny Berkley not much bigger than a child's pedal car wouldn't just fit into today's SUV's -- they would fit in their glove compartments, or at least in their trunk. One bright red Messerschmitt even came with a tremendous backstory: it was won by a seventh grader on The Price Is Right television show!

Tiny? Toy-like? Yes, all of that. And photogenic as all get out. Beautiful little cars, with the emphasis on little, unless you know a synonym that means even smaller than that. Mostly two-seaters, one or two with the seats laid out like a jet, one in front, the other behind. One with the rear seat facing backwards -- not that any full-size person could actually fit into it. The Isettas with their quirky doors that opened forward and up like a refrigerator (probably because the company that first built them actually was a refrigerator manufacturer).

Mileage for most topped 50 miles per gallon. Which is not surprising, since the engines ranged from 250 cc's to no more than 700 cc's -- usually a single cylinder with a combustion chamber about the size of a small cup of coffee. Some were three-wheelers. There even was an AmphiCar on display, a car/boat combination that would be just as comfortable on the highway as in a lake. (Which is not to be taken as an endorsement for it in either venue.)

Micros on the Monument -- something to gawk at and admire, and to wish one of them was parked in your own driveway. Not so much just for the gas mileage, either. Cars from the era -- '50s and '60s -- when style really, really mattered. Comfort? Well, you look mahvelous!

Very rare Isetta convertible

Alix Bryan points out her favorite, an original Mini Cooper

Our earlier story is HERE.

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