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Ok, I admit. I have an attraction to cute little European cars. Unfortunately my bank account and my willingness (and skill level) to buy a good one or buy a fixer upper is lacking. But I just love the little cute European cars. I guess it started when I was sent to Germany in January 1979 for REFORGER (Return Forces to Europe). Then I was stationed in Fulda, Germany 1980 to 1982. I just love the little cars, i.e. Citroen 2CVs, the Fiat 500, the VW Beetle, etc. They're utilitarian in function and design, but just so cute.

Anyone share my attraction for these little buggers? Or have pictures or stories to share?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Renault had one also, the Renault 4. Those, the Citroen 2CVs, the little Fiats, the VWs were everywhere.

These cars were small and cute, but they were not microcars as the link above shows. Those are cute also, but I wouldn't want one of those to drive on the US roads like I would the ones I'm referring to.
 

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There's a really cool micro car museum in Nashville, the Lane Motor Museum. They have a great collection of small cars, motorcycles, and even a few military vehicles from Europe and the US.

They even have a LARC LX amphibious landing craft that they brought up the Cumberland river and then drove to the museum through downtown Nashville. If y'all are ever in the area, it's worth stopping by. :thumbup1gif:

Home - Lane Motor Museum
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I'm just not interested in microcars, but small cars sized like the Citroen 2CV, Fiat 500, VW Beetle, etc. The one link in the last post may have the type of car I'm talking about, but the class and size I'm referring to isn't a microcar, but larger. The micro cars are cute, but just not practical to US roads. Then again, the cars I'm talking about may also be impractical due to lack of parts.
 

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I may have applied the "micro" term too broadly. The Lane museum has a lot of small European cars, some of which are "micro" one seaters and incredibly small, and others are small by US standards but still seat two and have room for some cargo. Renault, VW, etc...

If you have time to browse their site, they have 300+ cars. :kidw_truck_smiley:
 

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Neat stuff, particularly the Messerschmitts (including TWO KR500 'tigers') in the microcar museum link PSRumors posted.

I will try to bring the reply to Terry's similar post in another forum forward here for others to comment upon:

Terry,

As I have had over 80 cars since I started driving so many years ago, naturally some of them were small European cars of the type you mention -- several pretty rare here in the states.

I will limit my definition of small to those cars of 4 or fewer cylinders and under 1600cc...here is a partial list just from memory (pictures are representative to assist the discussion.)

1960 and 1967 NSU Prinz sport coupes -- these are truly tiny with 600 cc two cylinder engines in the rear. The '67 had disc brakes.
NSU Prinz Sport Coupe.JPG

1962 BMW 700 coupe -- opposed 700 cc air cooled twin engine like the motorcycle by this same manufacturer, fully independent rear suspension and handled GREAT!
BMW 700 coupe.jpg

1953 MG TD 1200 cc four cylinder -- classic open English sports car, wood framed bodywork, quirky electrics...
1953 MG TD.jpg

1971 Lotus Europa 1600cc Four Cylinder -- very light at 1375 pounds, supreme handling, unique looks, mid engine layout.
Lotus Europa.JPG

Several Fiat 850 coupes and spiders -- 850 cc rear mounted four cylinder, pretty agile, pretty fragile...
Fiat 850 coupe.jpg Fiat 850 spider.jpg

1969 Karmann Ghia convertible ( I made this from several wreaks over a summer -- but primarily was a 67,68,69, and 71 Volkswagen derived project.) The body/chassis was from the 1969 -- first year with the independent rear suspension rather than the older swing-arm design.
Karmann Ghia Convertible.jpg

1967 Triumph Spitfire 1600 cc four cylinder -- another open British sports car. Mine was not this color and had the removable hardtop (which was almost never on the car...)
Triumph Spitfire roadster.jpg

1985 Sunbeam (Hillman) IMP -- 875 cc all aluminum SOHC slant four by Conventry Climax...sweet little engine trapped in an ugly shrunken Corvair-looking two door with gobs of oversteer...who the hell puts swing axles on a FRONT suspension??
Sunbeam (Hillman) Imp.jpg

Well -- that's a start...I did not mention the Honda 600 Z-Coupe above as it is not European...but it is a small car by any standards -- 600 cc air cooled twin FWD. Those are 10 inch rims...so you can see it is not a large vehicle. At 123 inches long that is just under 10 feet! Curb weight is about 1320 pounds...
Honda 600 Z-Coupe.jpg

Chuck
 

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56FordGuy,

Thanks for the link -- lots of interesting stuff there.

I agree with Terry that some of the micro-cars would be a bit of a pucker factor in most contemporary traffic situations. Even my Lotus was a bit uncomfortable to drive in heavy traffic as it was only about 40 inches tall at the roof-line. I specifically chose that color green (called Pistachio) to stand out visually...

Plus, being a bit older and perhaps wiser (at least a bit more cynical...) I worry about unskilled and inattentive drivers, plus all the substance abuse on top of that. Because of these factors I no longer ride my bicycles on public roads, even though I used to commute by bike in Palo Alto in the '80s and '90s. A friend my age once postulated that a good traffic licensing plan would require two years of commuting by bicycle to understand traffic dynamics, two years of riding motorcycle to understand physics, and all those that survive could be issued driver's licenses for cars...

Not listed in the more unusual and/or desirable small cars above were my 1959 Morris Minor (1000 cc sedan much the same size as a VW Beetle) or the 1960 Morris Mini (849cc transverse mounted front wheel drive - anemic compared to the Cooper versions with the larger engines) or the 1963 MG 1100 sedan which was a bit larger version than the Mini of that period of the transverse engine/FWD configuration. Here are some representative images to jog your memory. All of these were imported to the US at one time or another in moderate quantities...
Morris Minor.jpg Morris Mini.jpg MG 1100 sedan.jpg

Chuck
 

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My Jeeps tires are 40" tall. You could have seen under it I bet. ;)
 

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I owned a 69 Buick Opel Kadett, and had a 69 VW Karmann Ghia hardtop. Only thing I didn't like on the Karmann Ghia was the heating , lack of heating ,
Left foot would roast off, windshield barely able to see out of . Course anyone owning a VW at some point had the same problem.
 

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I owned a 69 Buick Opel Kadett, and had a 69 VW Karmann Ghia hardtop. Only thing I didn't like on the Karmann Ghia was the heating , lack of heating ,
Left foot would roast off, windshield barely able to see out of . Course anyone owning a VW at some point had the same problem.[/QUOTE]

Yup, mine was a '62 Beetle. It was either see through the windshield and freeze your feet or keep your feet warm and scrape your breath off the windshield! 40MPG year round though! I did have a '58 badly used VW bus I hauled M/C's in and you weren't ever cold until you owned one of them around here in Winter! Going down long hills all the cold air in the back would flow up over the seat and around the sides proving cold air is heavier than warm air.

I installed a bulkhead behind the seat which helped some. Then I found that there was a plugged off (stock) wye pipe where you could cut off the heat going to the rear area and feed both heater boxes to the front pipe. Worked great... other than the normal oil haze on the windshield it was just like a regular car heater.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I had a '69 Kharman Ghia. It was orange, and fun to drive. But, there was no room in it for my legs, had to drive with my knees up near the steering wheel. The windshield defroster consist of me scrapping both the outside and the inside of the windshield. No heat. I carried a pair of pliers and a screw driver with me everywhere just in case I had to tinker with the engine. But, a fun car to drive.

I had two cars in Germany, a '70 Audi 100, what a car, and a '71 Opel Kadett. That little Opel had a 1.1 liter engine, took a couple of days to get up to 60, but I could cruise all day long at 100 mph on the Autobahn. Love that little car, I wish I could had took it home with me when I came back to the states.
 

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I owned a 69 Buick Opel Kadett, and had a 69 VW Karmann Ghia hardtop. Only thing I didn't like on the Karmann Ghia was the heating , lack of heating ,
Left foot would roast off, windshield barely able to see out of . Course anyone owning a VW at some point had the same problem.
I had a '59 VW Beetle! Great mileage (30+), but acceleration was lacking. First gear was not synchronized, and top end was about 65 mph, unless going downhill! The heater took forever to get warm, but it put out some heat! As you mentioned, mainly on the left foot, but one could defrost a couple of small sections of the windshield too. I think I could get two 4 inch sections clear, one on each lower "corner". The wipers were the worst part for me. I think everyone always spoke of how the car was so well engineered, yet had horrible wipers! It was a "tank" in its own way, as the metal on it was 12 ga. steel!

I wanted a Kharman Ghia, but they were hard to come by. So, I took to driving fast cars with lots of HP!
 

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Well I guess my obsession with Euro-cars is a bit more modern than you folks.

This was my Convertible 6 speed, Mini Cooper, S, John Cooper Works edition. This was the 2005 model, S for sport, and John Cooper Works, was a complete factory tuning package, including supercharger. 210 HP, in a car that weighs in at 1700lbs... to say it was a blast to drive was an understatement. That car had everything but navigation... biggest problem was, nobody wanted to work on it! Mini itself, was outrageous to pay to work on it. I wound up doing the work myself (which I CAN do, but I prefer NOT to, as it's in my estimation, miserable work). Sorry to sell that car, but a MINI enthusiast purchased it, and it now makes 245hp, and has all new wheels/tires, and an even lower stance.

 

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A friend of mine had one of those Opels. They were smaller than a Karmann-Ghia, and less powerful (what a combo!). I used to work for a VW restoration place and we worked on all kinds of V-dub stuff. I had a '73 Beetle that had all kinds of weird air-cooled engines in it. When I finally got rid of it it was raised a few inches, had a Baja kit on it, and a 2.2 liter engine (stock is 1.6). We had to put a rev-limiting distributor in it because even at 8000 RPM it still pulled like a mother in first and second gear. It was basically a detuned engine from one of the VW drag cars the guy I worked for used to build. Mine ran on premium instead of alcohol though. The stroke was so long on the high-cc engines that you had to cut chunks of the engine case away and grooves in the crank and notches in the piston skirts.

I wish I still had the engine and a K-G to stick it in. That would have been a bad-ass combo.

Oh, a friend had one of those Sonnets as well. They didn't really appeal to me.
 

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Yes the Opel GT was one of the more attractive cars out of GM in Germany in that era and the styling lineage from the Corvette of the same time period is obvious. I had an Opel wagon that was pure utilitarian and fairly reliable, but nobody would call it "cute" -- now or then.

Perhaps some of the least aesthetically attractive small cars I have owned are also German and surprisingly the bodywork was by Karmann as well. In high school I had both a 1955 and a 1957 DKW 3=6. These are sedans with 3 cylinder 2 stroke 896 cc engines of amazing simplicity (no water pump - just thermal siphon, no distributor - just three sets of points and three coils/plugs) coupled to the most complex 4 speed front wheel drive transaxle with free-wheeling I had ever seen. Obviously you can't have compression braking on an engine that is lubricated only by its fuel flow... Also, you had to mix your own oil into the fuel as there was no injection tank like the later DKW Junior models of the early 60s. Here are some web pictures, both of the 3=6 model and the later 1958 model 1000, as most folks don't ever recall hearing about or seeing one of these. DKW was one of the Auto Union companies -- what is now Audi as you can see by the emblem on the 1000 car grill...and the trunk of the 3=6.
DKW 3=6.jpg DKW 1000.jpg

As for the early SAAB Sonnett -- it always struck me as a very low volume kit car look, since the body work and its underlying styling were less than stellar. At least by the era of the Sonnett, SAAB saw the last of making its own 2 stroke engined cars. The SAAB 2-stroke was of course a derivative of the DKW and in the SAAB 92 and 93 sedans you can see many similarities to the DKW driveline...

Chuck
 

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I've seen those DKWs. I always thought they were neat looking (like old Citroens), but don't know much about them. There are a lot of odd-looking Euro cars. I wouldn't mind having one, but finding parts would be almost impossible.
 

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Here is a picture of a Kadett same color , not my car found this one on internet. Can't remember size of engine ,but had the 3 spd auto. , didn't do that bad. While stationed at Fort Lee ,I drove home 11 of the 12 weeks . One trip going back before I68 , dropping down into Lavale ,Md heard this strange noise. As long as I could keep the RPM's at a certain range it ran and sounded fine. After making it to Lee ,took the car t Buick dealer, found out , only 1 bolt was still holding the torque converter to engine. Shop foreman told me I was very lucky, the last bolt was just about ready to drop out. Car had around 10000 miles on it at that time. Never had any more problems great little car
 

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Andy,

Finding parts in tghe US was a challenge even in 1962 when I was in high school and owned these vehicles. Much like our vintage lawn tractors (Deere 140, 318, etc...) the reason for owning two of a particular model was to have enough parts to get one fully functional. At least with the 140s, 318s and the 322 I currently have you can get quite a few parts from the dealer even now, if you are willing to pay the price.

Chuck
 
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