One of the terms that became part of the lingo in the collector car hobby is “terminally cute”.
The expression referred to the half pint cars from the past and it was a moniker that started with the BMW Isetta.
The Isetta was the kind of car with built-in massive appeal to kids.
Clearly an Isetta was cartoonish the day it left the factory and those of us from a bygone era could easily envision Yogi and Boo Boo in one of these cars.
Isettas were tiny underpowered commuter cars built for the tight urban streets of European cities. They were not meant for use on North American highways where giant V-8 powered Detroit rides were king of the road.
An Isetta could almost fit in the trunk of a big American sedan and that is exactly where it belonged on any freeway because the cars topped out at a fast jog.
They were very useful on city streets and very dangerous on highways, but they were the car version of Teddy bears then and now.
The Isetta was not alone in the terminally cute department. The original Fiat 500 also has a warm and fuzzy factor that is off the charts and made people want to hug it before they drove it.
The Fiat offered a higher top speed than the Isetta, but it was never intended to make people forget about Ferraris in that department.
The Fiat offered room for extra passengers-if they were children-sized passengers. Any attempt to shoehorn four grownups into these tiny Italian cars for a long road trip could only be described as cruel and unusual punishment in the eyes of the Geneva Convention. But they sure are cute in anybody’s eyes.
Heinkel Trojan 1-Door Coupes were lesser known members of the terminally cute car club. The car took more than a few of its design cues from the Isetta and ran with them. It has the same basic three wheel stance and one can be forgiven if they confuse this German micro car with its Italian counterpart, the Isetta.
The Heinkel shared the same basic urban-use-only philosophy because this little car only had a one-cylinder engine, so a drive on the Autobahn in a Heinkel would be riskier than scaling Mt Everest while blindfolded and drunk.
Imagine a car powered by little more than a lawn mower engine and you get the picture. But the terminally cute factor was off the charts with the Heinkel.
Another German micro car with puppy dog cute built into its looks had a less cute manufacturer: Messerschmitt. Both Messerschmitt and Heinkel were names closely and infamously associated with German WWII war planes, so the idea of a cuddly little car like the 1961 Messerschmitt KR-200 Bubble Car was a huge change in direction.
The Messerschmitt micro car shared little with its winged predecessor and its engine would likely not even be able to taxi a fully weaponized Messerschmitt fighter plane onto the runway, let alone get it off the ground. But the car had one huge advantage: people loved its looks. The same could not be said for the Messerschmitt warplane on a strafing mission.
Our final addition to the terminally cute club is a custom fire truck built on a Crosley pickup truck base.
The little Crosleys were America’s answer to the micro cars from Europe and were a contender for the cute ride title.
These little fire trucks essentially handed them the title because kids love this combination. This fire truck would be the last thing you would want to see if your house actually was on fire, but it would be a big hit if you called in the alarm for a kid’s birthday party in your back yard.
Thus ends today’s lesson in lifestyles of the terminally cute.
CLICK HERE to Like us on Facebook
CLICK HERE to Follow us on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Follow us on Pinterest
*Re-post if you like this MSCC article…thanks.