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.
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.
The water cooled 4-cylinder B.S.A. was introduced at the 1932 Olympia Motor Show in England. The car was an instant success, as buyers were eager to have a quieter, smoother car that was easier to start than the original 2-cylinder car, although it was heavier and not as powerful.
Birmingham Small Arms was started in 1861. Its main products were machine guns, shotguns and rifles. In 1880 B.S.A. also started to build bicycles. B.S.A.’s first cars were produced in 1907, and cars made from 1907 to 1915 were of the conventional 4-wheel type. B.S.A.
The original design of the Spatz was penned by German automaker Egon Brütsch. He was one of the world’s most prolific microcar engineers and designed eleven different car models between 1952 and 1958, such as the Mopetta—but he hardly sold any.