Are microcars making a comeback?
From the 40’s, and during the 50’s and 60’s there was a full line of manufactures creating all sort of very small, cheap cars. The intention was to reach a market of people who didn’t have the money to buy a “normal” car and to pay for the highly priced fuel in Europe.
These so named microcars were part of the scene in cities and roads of the European world, and some of them even made it to the US. But while fuel prices here were low, and roads long, microcars didn’t stand a chance against the big, luxury local vehicles of the time, so those little examples of basic transportation became simply curious toys, if not the target of all kind of jokes.
Now we are faced with increasing fuel prices and crowded cities, so many people look at European models that might have something to offer for the local roads. So far the VW Beatle made a comeback, together with the Mini (under a different manufacturer), the Smart Car, and now it seems the Fiat 500 will be roaming American roads by 2012.
These are not the same as they used to be of course. These are updated models that meet all the requirements for new cars to be legal in this country, so what once was a small, simple, affordable transport vehicle, has become a luxury; highly technological device that reflects modern’s times.
I’ve always been fascinated by small cars, to the point that I own a little Isetta 300, so when I heard of the Fiat 500 comeback, I had to go and see it with my own eyes.
It was a pleasant surprise to see that little car among the other “monsters” at the showroom. Retaining the simple lines inside and out; small but roomy enough, and even with some luxuries included such as electric sunroof and power windows.
I was ecstatic for the availability of the vehicle in a short time, and even the crazy thought of eventually buying one in the future did cross my mind…until I saw a picture of both; the old and the new Fiat 500 standing side by side.
What happened to the little car concept?!
If you take a look at the picture of both cars, you’ll see that there’s nothing small about the new one, well, in all fairness, the original one was classified as a “microcar” so I guess the new one could still be considered a “small” car. But for someone like me, that like the original concept of the microcar (think of a scooter with a body for rainy days), the excitement of a brand new microcar available for purchase in the present, dissolved like the colors of the picture under a heavy rain, and floating down the street drain it disappeared once more.
I guess is still about restoring the little one to make it shine once again in the presence of others; those who remain in the race of incorporating more and more elements, size and weight, as the way of natural growth nowadays.
So no…microcars are not coming back…