Quirky Classic Cars

Classic cars like these had some quirkiness to then, be it odd body design or outlandish engineering. These cars stood out, sadly many of them were not successful, but they had their part in bringing about new ideas.

The 2CV was made between 1948 and 1990, 2 CV meaning two horsepower “deux chevaux vapeur” or “taxable horsepower” which was an early system by which taxation rates for automobiles were implemented in some European countries. However the first 2CV’s 375cc motor had all of 9 horsepower. Being very utilitarian in looks but technologically advanced and innovative. It was designed to get the French peasantry motorized. It was cheap in design with quirky features like fold up side glass and a canvass roof, adjustable ride height, long travel suspension for rough terrain, dash mounted gear lever, and on the first models, a wooden chock that was used to prop the car on when changing a flat tire. Even though receiving harsh criticism at its debut at the 1948 Paris Salon, demand outstripped supply for many years.
Citroen 2CV

The Tucker Torpedo or Tucker 48 as it was later called was an innovative car briefly produced by Preston Tucker in 1948. This rear engine car was to feature many unheard of at the time innovations, such as fuel injection, seat belts, independent suspension, pop out windscreen and disc brakes amongst others. Many features were not included in the final prototypes due to cost and lack of development at the time. The original motor featured oil pressure valve train actuation instead of a cam, but this idea was problematic and was abandoned. Due to a multitude of design and development problems as well as a much publicized stock fraud trial of which Preston Tucker was acquitted, and speculation that the big 3 automakers in the US as well as Senator Homer Ferguson had contributed to the downfall of the Tucker corporation. Only 51 cars were produced and most survive until today. A Tucker with chassis #1045 sold at an action in August 2010 for a record breaking $1,127,500

Tucker

Being the first production car with a rotary motor. It was a 498cc single rotor design, it had a power output of 37KW. The body was a small lightweight cabriolet design which gave the car spritely performance. Its small production numbers gave it a high price tag at the time. Because rotary technology being a new development of the time, the motor was not durable and prone to rotor tip wear which led to power loss and increased fuel consumption as well as oil leaks. Only 2375 were built in its production run that lasted from 1964 to 1967.

NSU Spider

The Messerschmitt KR200 and KR 175 “Bubble car” came about after World War 2. Messerschmitt Aircraft Company temporally not allowed to build planes was approached by Fend Flitzer with the idea to build small cars based on his “invalid carriage”. Essentially a scooter with a car like body, it had handle bars as opposed to a steering wheel and a passenger sat in tandem with the driver with its famous aircraft like bubble canopy to protect the occupants from the elements. The first model to enter production was the KR175 from 1953 to 1955. It was built by Regenburg works. It had a 175cc motor located in front of the rear wheel, this was replaced with the KR200 in 1955 which had a 200cc motor, redesigned fenders, improved suspension, gas shocks and larger diameter wheels. It was highly popular and 12000 were produced in its first production year. In 1956 Messersmitt was allowed to build aircraft again and lost interest. Regenburg works was sold to Flitzer and due to waning sales and a booming economy as well as the popularity of the Mini, production eventually ceased in 1964.

Messerschmitt “Bubble car”

Made by Stout Engineering Laboratories in the early 1930’s, it has been credited by many as the world’s first production minivan. Stout also experimented with a fiberglass bodied Scarab which was the world’s first fiberglass bodied car. The Scarab was almost 4 meters long, had a rear mounted V8 engine, independent suspension and coil springs all round and utilized ‘unitized body construction’ that is the norm today. Other unusual design features included a large common door, flexible seating that could be arranged in almost any configuration, it even had a small removable table. At $5000 each it was too expensive at the time so only 9 were ever made.

Stout Scarab