A Roundup of the Top 4 Microcars of All Time for Students in Auto Body Schools
March 16, 2018
The term ‘microcar’ is elastic. For example, the US-based Vintage Microcar Club defines a microcar primarily by engine capacity, pointing out that most small vehicles with an engine capacity under 1000cc can conceivably be called microcars. However, the word has gone on to embrace a range of small and economically-minded single or double seated cars, many of which feature three wheels instead of four. Since the emergence of the first mass-produced microcars in the 1950s, a dizzying range of them have been created throughout the decades. Here, we break down some of the best examples.
The Peel Trident Grabbed Attention With a Flying Saucer Design
Produced by the Peel Engineer Company, the Trident was the firm’s follow-up to the reasonably successful P50 design. While that microcar kept things very minimal, with one seat and a body that still holds the record for the smallest car to go into production, the Trident blasted off for more ambitious territory.
Complete with a stylish and revamped body, the car also incorporated a unique bubble top and included an extra seat, allowing both a driver and a passenger to enjoy the ride. The car’s performance was very much of the economically-minded post-war mindset, delivering a top speed of just 45 km/h.
The Bond Bug Added a Dash of 1970s Flair That Grads of Auto Body Schools Will Appreciate
One of the most distinctive microcars of all time, the wedge-shaped Reliant Bond Bug took to the roads just as the 1970s were getting started. British producer Reliant had decided to purchase a competitor, Bond, and keep that name. The company decided to go for a dashing and “fun” design which would contrast with the more austere looking microcars of the time. Packing a 700cc engine, seating for two, and three wheels, it was definitely a car that was more than a little quirky. It even had a lifting canopy design that could more than catch the eye of grads of auto body schools.
While not as successful as some other vehicles created by the company, the Bond Bug delivered a zippy performance, with top speeds of up to 116 km/h, making it faster than many “standard” four wheel cars of the period. The car’s frame was also immortalized in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise, serving as the basis of Luke Skywalker’s land speeder in ‘Episode IV – A New Hope’.
Sebring-Vanguard CitiCar Sought an Electric Solution to an Ongoing Energy Crisis
In the 1970s, the United States experienced two major disruptions to its oil and petroleum supplies, with two separate oil crises that left long lines of cars waiting to fill up at gas stations. In this environment, Sebring-Vanguard put forward an alternative, a two-seat “CitiCar” that was entirely powered by electric batteries. Over 2,300 were eventually produced, and the CitiCar went through several iterations, each adding slightly better features to what pros with auto body technician careers will note was an originally a very stripped-down design.
Here’s a closer look at this little microcar in action:
Famously, the producers laid claim to the title as the sixth biggest auto producer in the United States at the time. The CitiCar proved that there was a way to sell both the microcar design and electric vehicles to the US buying public, and as such, it can be considered an automotive pioneer.
You May Already Be Familiar with the Successful smart Fortwo
When the first generation of smart’s Fortwo rolled off the production line in 1998, it marked a bold new moment for microcars. Smart, an offshoot of Germany’s Daimler AG corporation, delivered a very compact but highly road-capable vehicle, with just enough room for a driver and passenger. Complete with a direct injection diesel engine, the car arrived in a period when most microcars had long since left the road.
Marketed with tight urban parking in mind (the Fortwo could park directly into a space a “standard” car would have to parallel park to get into), the Fortwo was pitched as a commuter vehicle. With the Fortwo being remodelled and reissued up to the present day, and with smart also having transitioned to an electric version, this small car has very much proven its mettle.
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