If you listen to politicians, small cars are what Americans want to buy, but you can't fit into until the nanny state takes your fries away .
You'll find tiny hatches from all of them available at your local dealer, but they're leviathons compared to the Tata Nano. It's made in the same country that resolves your credit card disputes. It's currently the world's cheapest ride at $2700
As any aficionado of British cars knows, the current Mini Cooper made by BMW is a leviathon compared to the original. This is the chase scene inside a shopping mall from The Italian Job. Wouldn't surprise me if they turned around in a changing booth;
This is the 1957 BMW Insetta, the Beemers that bankers would be driving if it weren't for the TARP bailouts and Quantitative Easing from the Federal Reserve
The world's record for smallest production car ever goes to the 1963 Peel P50, driven in this Top Gear segment by giant clod Jeremy Clarkson
And if you want to go smaller than that, there's always the Radio Flyer;
Most classic car lovers think of the 55 Chevy as the mean machine with the monster 455 that Harrison Ford and his shitkicking boots drove in American Graffiti, or maybe the quarter miler with the giant blower growing out of the hood, or the auctioneer's special meticulously restored down to the 50's diner vinyl interior.
This one is a different animal altogether, a 55 with sheet metal and chassis about the same age as the Malibus sitting in Chevy dealer lots.
See the whole story in the link to Hot Rod Magazine's web site;
A company in Michigan, EMI Experi Metal Inc, like a lot of other metal fabrication companies, bought the forms to stamp out exact reproductions of the original body parts. For about $25,000, you can buy of these new bodies rather than search the backyards and junkyards for rust particles filling the matrix of what was one time a car body. Probably worth the time and expense to avoid all the patching, straightening, and fabrication with an original.
From there, you can drop in the drive train of your choice, for instance the same technology you get from a brand new Corvette, and put on other Pro-Touring touches as your bank account and family will allow
In the Bel Air ragtop featured in the article, the owner chose the aluminum block LS-1 5.7, a GM 4L60E 4 speed automatic transmission, and 4 wheel independent suspension available from Heidt.
I want a car like this almost as much as a naked play-date with Kate Upton
Launched in 1950 under VW's official designation of the T-2, this underpowered tin box became the counterculture icon called the VW Bus, the Hippie Bus, and the Choomwagon.
While loved by the hippies of the 60s, it was hideously bland unless it was painted with psychodelic rainbows and peace signs, which transformed the plain ugly box into a Peter Max depiction of Dante's Inferno.
The Hippie Bus was underpowered by the same flat 4 air cooled 1200 cc (1.2L) engine that enabled the VW Beetle to move in a forward direction. It had a top speed of 62 mph going downhill with a good tailwind, while 0-60 was measured by counting tree rings. Needless to say, going to San Francisco with seven hippies plus whatever hitchhiking members of the Manson Family they picked up on the way took a bit of time.
As for the ride, let's just say it didn't make the extra time it took to get anywhere a pleasant experience. The clattering box 4 in the back made the interior about as quiet as a chainsaw in a tin outhouse, and the shocks were so stiff it had a bouncing ride similar to a mechanical bull with a wooden saddle.
Those shocks had to be stiff, as the shitbox had a narrow track, short wheelbase and a high center of gravity riding on skinny tires which made any deviation from a straight line an amusement park type thrill. Keeping it in a straight line was no easy chore either as any movement of air blew the thing all over the road. The turbulence from a passing semi usually blew the hippies into a cornfield like it had been blasted by the thrust of a 747 taking off.
Heating came usually from bics lighting up a doob during the ride, and a/c was not even an option, not exactly olfactory bliss on a summer afternoon with a van load of aromatic hippies
For the head hippie piloting the Magic Bus, he, she, or it sat over the front wheels, with 1/8 inch steel and the driver's legs comprising the crumple zone in a collision
It was ugly, slow, dangerous, uncomfortable and noisy. So why do I have a bit of a soft spot for the VW Bus?
Back in the 50s, Chrysler decided to make a special edition car that they felt would appeal to the as yet untapped market of women drivers coming onto America's streets and highways.
So for the 1955 model year, they introduced a factory option based on the 2 door Dodge Custom Royal Lancer hardtop called the La Femme. It was painted a two tone Heather Rose over a Sapphire white, giving the Dodge an exterior look of what June Cleaver would drive if she was a Mary Kay saleswoman. The Lancer nameplate was replaced by a gold scripted La Femme badge.
It was the interior that made this a full sized Barbie car that Chrysler hoped would be bought by real life Barbie Girls. It was upholstered in the kind of material that Liberace would have made a bedspread with, tapestry in pale silver pink with pink rosebuds and with a darker pink vinyl trim. Each car came with a special matching purse, compact, lipstick case, cigarette lighter, and comb, all perfect for the boss's secretary to freshen up after that long lunch.
To top it off, the La Femme package included a matching raincoat, rain hat,and umbrella stashed away in a compartment behind the driver's seat
The ladies weren't cheated in the powerplant department, as the La Femme was equipped with the same 268 CI (4.4L) V8 available in the more he-man Lancers.
While Chrysler hoped at first that they could corner the ladies market with this car, there were only about 2,500 models ever made. It wasn't heavily promoted by Dodge dealerships, but it's just as likely that this car was too gaudy for June Cleaver and too low end for the Lana Turner La Femme Fatales. Liberace might have taken one for a test drive on Fremont Ave in downtown Vegas, it's appeal would have been just fabulous for the drag queen at the drag strip if the closet doors had been opened in the buttoned up 50s
There are only 7 known to exist in the world, just imagine what one would bring at an auction now, it might even stretch Elton John's budget
GM announced that the June 2012 sales of the Obama Motors Volt doubled over 2011. What number made the ObamaStreamMedia drool over the sales numbers of the bellweather car of the company their hero "saved", the numbers that have the MSM calling the Volt the "comeback kid"?
To put this in perspective, the Pontiac Aztek, the car so butt ugly that kids begged their moms to drop them off two blocks from school to hide the shame, posted 27,322 sales in its first year of 2001. That averages 2276 sales per month of a hideous clusterfuck that is blamed for killing off the Pontiac division.
I don't know if the number is buyer sales from the dealers or typical GM channel stuffing to the dealerships, but either way they're not clogging the HOV lanes of the 405 freeway in West LA with self-righteous Gaia worshipping Hollywood folk.
So why isn't the symbolic tree hugging car that's supposed to symbolize the SCOAMF's brilliant stewardship of corporate America's biggest welfare queen replacing the Prius as the car of Those Who Care More Than You?
Most car analysts cite the Volt's $41 to $45K sticker price as a deterrent, although thanks to the kind generosity of the taxpayer, a $7500 tax deduction comes back at tax time. For $24K to $34K, those who want to show they love the planet can buy the iconic Prius, or for those who go with the hipster flow, a Subaru Outback sets them back at a starting price of $23K and carries lots of arugula and shade grown coffee back from Whole Foods
But I don't think price is the biggest reason, not when the Hollywood Saviors of the Polar Bear like Leo DiCaprio or James Cameron lose more than that between their couch cushions.
Why do they go for the Prius and not the Volt? The real reason that I believe is that the Prius has that unique ugliness, the gopher fucking a Dustbuster design that shouts to all that "I Drive I Prius. I Care. I'm Better Than You."
The Volt is built on the same chassis and has almost the identical sheet metal to the subcompact $17K petrol only Chevy Cruze.
Here is the Cruze
And here is the Volt
See what I mean? If James Cameron is going to leave the Corvette ZR-1 in the garage in Malibu and drive the econobox to work on the 101, he wants you to know that he, James Fuckin' Cameron, is saving the planet that YOU are polluting with your Chevy Tahoe.
Even with all his millions, he's not going to spend 45K on a car that's indistinguishable to his fellow commuters from a 17K rental fleet econobox.
He and the rest of the Hollywood elite COULD easily afford to save the polar bears with the Volt, but it's like pissing your pants in a dark suit. It might give you a warm feeling, but nobody notices.