Microcar Bonanza: The Biggest Sale of the Tiniest Cars

February, 2013

Microcars

Years before either Mini Coopers or Smart cars came on the scene, European car companies, who were recovering from the devastation of World War II, built a generation of microcars. These very small cars provided an alternative mode of transportation, to a country where raw materials were in short supply, and to a population who couldn’t afford the luxury of owning a full-sized automobile.

Some of these miniatures, which were essentially enclosed scooters, looked like toy pedal cars, but others, particularly the three-wheelers, barely had any resemblance to automobiles. You couldn’t expect radios, plush interiors, or even heaters in these little buggies. They offered only basic mechanized transportation, at an affordable price, and nothing more. When the era of microcars came to an end, most vehicles were unceremoniously disposed of, since they had served their intended purpose. However, a few microcars from this period survived, and have since become prized collectibles.

Bruce Weiner’s Microcar and Memorabilia Collection

One person who caught the microcar fever was Bruce Weiner, the person behind the ‘Double Bubble’ gum franchise. Bruce began collecting these special vehicles in the ‘90s and restoring them. Eventually the collection grew into a museum that also included coin operated kid rides, candy machines, and neon signs. In 2013, the entire museum inventory was auctioned in a two day sale by RM Auctions. Here are some of the more interesting small cars in Bruce’s collection followed by the results from the top vehicle and memorabilia sales.

BMW Isetta

Although the BMW marque is easily recognized, only car enthusiasts may know that the Isetta was built by BMW in the 1950s. Its most unique feature is a single door which opens the entire front of the car. The steering wheel column, which is attached to the door, swings out of the way upon the driver’s entry and exit. Several variations of this popular microcar are displayed throughout the museum, including a Polizei (police) car and a factory-built pickup. For those who need some speed, there’s also a custom drag car, which was an interpretation of the famed Hot Wheels model “Whatta Drag”.

Messerschmitt

The shape of the Messerschmitt microcar looks like a small World War II German fighter plane on three wheels. In fact, this is exactly where the design originated. Equipped with a canopy that hinges to the side, it has a single seat up front for the driver and a bench seat in back for two passengers. This microcar model is the one that first caught Bruce’s eye when he began collecting, and the one that fills many of the spots in his museum. The vast majority of his Messerschmitt collection is comprised of coupes, but he has a few convertibles, and one very rare sports car that is estimated to drive the bidding well into the six figures.

Goggomobile

Goggomobiles, which sound like cars from the ’60s, more closely resemble traditional cars, only, of course, they’re much smaller. Highly successful in their time, the company sold more than 175,000 units. A rare convertible model, which is believed to be one of only two known to exist, will be part of the auction. Also, included will be Goggomobile delivery vans, beautifully restored in bright colors with company logos, such as Coca Cola, Double Bubble bubblegum, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

Bond Mini Car

Although James Bond likes snappy, little sports cars, it’s doubtful that he’d drive one of these strange-looking three-wheeled cars, with a single drive wheel upfront. The two passenger Bond Mini was built as an inexpensive two-person vehicle. Early versions had only one door on the driver side, and, believe it or not, no reverse gear. These cars are easily recognizable, with their long, narrow front end, balanced over one wheel.

Top 7 Microcar Sales

  • Lot #603, 1958 Messerschmitt Tiger — $280,000
  • Lot #613, 1958 Pez Goggomobil Transporter — $150,000
  • Lot #590, 1955 Inter 175A Berline — $140,000
  • Lot #297, 1959 Coca-Cola Goggomobil Transporter — $120,000
  • Lot #563, 1963 Dubble Bubble Goggomobil Transporter — $115,000
  • Lot #623, 1955 Fuji Cabin — $110,000

 

For more photographs of microcars, see our gallery.

Top 7 Memorabilia Sales

  • Lot #489, Rocket Space Ranger Kiddie Ride — $39,000
  • Lot #530, Rustler Used Car Neon — $39,000
  • Lot #520, Indian Scout Kiddie Ride — $28,000
  • Lot #499, Miss America Speedboat Kiddie Ride — $27,500
  • Lot #542, Western Trails Traveling Pony Kiddie Ride — $27,500
  • Lot, #470, Spaceship Kiddie Ride — $24,000
  • Lot #160, Indian Motorcycle Kiddie Ride — $21,000
Note: All listed sale prices are hammer price (does not include sales commission).

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