Sunday, 8 July 2012

world of wheels

For a weekend in July, hundreds of classic cars descend on the medieval German Altstadt of Fladungen, proud owners transforming the cobble stone streets and narrow alleyways into another kind of museum. We always have a lot of fun seeing the spectacle, the cars lining the avenues and square and the parade of entrants. There were several luxury and sports models, of course, and incredible American road-ships on display, but I’ve always thought that the bubble cars (Rollermobil) are especially endearing. The Goggomobil from the Dingolfing, in Lower Bavaria by Passau, manu-facturer Hans Glas and the BMW Isetta were competing variations on the same concept of tininess and economy, made from about the same span of time from 1954 to the early 1960s. The Goggomobil had an actual limousine model and could accommodate a driver and three passengers, while the three-wheeled Isetta’s front cockpit hatch opened up for two.
Cumulatively there was certainly a lot of mechanical talent and countless hours devoted to maintenance and restoration on show, and it’s interesting that a lot of these and similar micro-mini cars have survived in good condition because, due to the engine size—around 13 horsepower only, drivers only needed a moped-class license to operate them, significantly cheaper and easier to obtain than one for a full-sized automobile. I think such a little car would be perfect for taking a spin around the block, and I can see these creative and expressive trends returning with independent and flexible designs for electric mobility.