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#1 (permalink) Old 03-23-2008, 10:34 PM
 
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Why I couldn't wait for the smart car...

...and my earlier micro car 'beginnings.'

I was enamored with "small vehicles" ever since 1963 at the age of 5 when my father arrived home one afternoon with a Ford Anglia Estate Deluxe 'wagon.' That car was 'da bomb and likely the origin of the phrase "use a Ford wrench" when referring to a hammer. It was the bane of his driving life as he spent more time fixing it and less time commuting to work than he had planned for.

After that in quick succession came a '63 MG B GT, a '64 VW Bug, and a '65 VW Squareback.

- FRED "2 MUTCH"
Is it a car? Is it a mind set? It's BOTH!
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#2 (permalink) Old 03-23-2008, 10:49 PM
 
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Once I was old enough to be behind the wheel...

...myself (circa' 1973), it was the height of the so-called 1970s gas shrotages and small cars were being seen on a regular basis. Of course, I was all over the muscle cars of the late '60s and early '70s and my first actual purchase (1974) was a 1971 Firebird Formula 400. That factory 4-speed was a real screamer and I must have gone through a dozen sets of junkyard rear tires doing 'burn outs' and parking lot donuts at school.

I hadn't forgotten the small cars through all of this though...and was especially happy to get my father's hand-me-down 1971 VW Super Beetle in 1975. I sold the Firebird to a neighbor and used the funds to get a bunch of 'neccessities' for the Bug - a CB radio, a rockin' cassette deck with 'big' speakers mounted on the rear deck, and a set of VW moonie wheels with over-sized wheels. Yea, that was the ticket!

I wrecked the engine when I the car threw a rod through the engine block one afternoon trying to 'exceed the speed limit' down a local highway.'
My Dad and I figured it was time for an engine upgrade and we found a local VW shop that put in a modified Porsche flat-4 out of a totaled 914. Now that combination was a real gas! I ran that VW over 40,000 miles during the ensuing 4 years including a trip of the Al-Can Highway and back (4 days from Minneapolis to Fairbanks that included 1100 miles of gravel road!).

- FRED "2 MUTCH"
Is it a car? Is it a mind set? It's BOTH!

Last edited by 2mutch; 03-23-2008 at 11:04 PM.
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#3 (permalink) Old 03-23-2008, 10:58 PM
 
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Along about 1981 I 'saw the light' on REAL small....

....and bought my first true micro car.



This little 1969 Subaru 360 sedan came complete with a 2-cylinder, 2-cycle, oil-injected engine. The engine in this is over the rear axel (ala smart) and was mated to a 4-speed manual tranny. All of 25 HP but with a surprising amount of pep for the size. I averaged typically 60-62 MPG and I could (if pedaling for all I was worth) get it up to 60 MPH - 65 on a down hill run! Ha!

As you can see in the photo - taken about 2 months after getting it - that it needed some body work. It was complete, however, and ran well. I finally sold it in 1985 to fund another 'project.'

- FRED "2 MUTCH"
Is it a car? Is it a mind set? It's BOTH!

Last edited by 2mutch; 03-23-2008 at 11:02 PM.
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#4 (permalink) Old 03-23-2008, 11:08 PM
 
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you are missing the BMW Isetta - it was about the same size and had a refrigerator door... the steering wheel moved when you opened the door...
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#5 (permalink) Old 03-23-2008, 11:16 PM
 
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More micro car adventures to come..

...it's late and I'll post more of the story tomorrow. Oh, and there is an assortment of micro cars (and other larger vehicles) to follow...including an Isetta or two.

- FRED "2 MUTCH"
Is it a car? Is it a mind set? It's BOTH!

Last edited by 2mutch; 03-24-2008 at 05:08 PM.
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#6 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 05:28 PM
 
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My first mini "micro" van...

...comes along in 1982 with the purchase of this Subaru 360 van. I guess I have a thing for the blue w/silver stripe color combo - same as my current smart cabrio! If you think the smarts get 'cuaght' in the wind sometimes, you should try driving one of these at 50 mph down the freeway!



The suicide doors and big side barn doors meant it had lots of entry and seating options. These have a split tailgate rear end like the smarts today although the engine compartment door was rear-facing. In a pinch (and ignoring even the minimal safety requirements of the day, I could sit 2 on the back engine cover (carpeted), 2 in the middle seat, and 2 up front. Of course, I was well over the rated weight capacity - but it was fun to try for a short, local trip from time to time.

I had this van until 1989 after our second child was born and the need for a more 'purposeful' mini van (read Dodge Caravan) meant having to sell this great little car. I understand it now resides (and it's been repainted) in Tennesee.

During the early and mid-'80s in additon to the Subarus here, we also had a 1976 Honda Civic 2-door Coupe, 1981 Honda Civic wagon, and a 1985 Subaru Justy 4x4. Later in 1989 I briefly owned a Nissan Axxess - with 4x4 too! - but traded it for a used 1986 Dodge Vista 4x4-on-the-fly wagon. Not really micro cars of course, but great little winter runners here in MN.

- FRED "2 MUTCH"
Is it a car? Is it a mind set? It's BOTH!
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#7 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 05:29 PM
 
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The van with doors open...

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#8 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 05:29 PM
 
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Another angle...

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#9 (permalink) Old 03-24-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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And from the rear...

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#10 (permalink) Old 12-25-2009, 04:22 PM
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Garage
Bump.
Found this thread during a search. Anyone know if this guy is still around?

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