In the mid 1960s, Austin decided to produce the Mini in South America. Knowing the production volumes would not be large, they could not afford to make another set of stamping dies for another factory.
Known affectionately as the “Bugeye” in the US and “Frog-Eye” in the UK, the Mark I Austin-Healey Sprite was an entry level British sports car introduced in 1958. Designers Donald Healey and Leonard Lord saw a chance to fill a gap in the market below the larger and more expensive MGA.
In 1916, the A.O. Smith Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, introduced an inexpensive buckboard-style cycle car called the Flyer. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the Flyer/ Auto Red Bug as the least expensive production car of all time, citing a 1922 ad that listed them for $125.
The name DKW comes from “Dampf-Kraft-Wagen” which translates to “steam-powered vehicle.” It carries this name because the first vehicle its Danish designer, J.S. Rasmussen, built, was a light steam car.
The principal derivative of the Fiat Nuevo 500 was the Autobianchi Bianchina. A chic, upmarket product conceived in parallel with the Fiat 500, the Autobianchi firm was part-owned (and later fully-owned) by Pirelli and Fiat.
Inspired by watching events such as the Port Townsend (WA) Kinetic Sculpture Race, it occurred to local tinkerer and inventor John Montgomery how simple it would be to run a live axle through the middle of a canoe and use an inverted bicycle frame to drive it.
The Biscuter, or ‘Zapatilla’ (little shoe) as it was known in Spain, was actually built to the design of the French engineer Gabriel Voisin. ‘Biscooter’, the French name, was in itself a playful name for a car the size of two scooters.
During Japan’s “Bubble Economy” (1986-1991), the nation’s car manufacturers enjoyed a bit of freedom in their car designs. Cars designed for smaller and smaller niche markets were financially feasible during this period.