Once a common sight in our towns and cities, microcars were ingenious solutions to the post war demand for economical and accessible motoring. Nowadays they are making a celebrated comeback with all of the big car manufacturers featuring at least one flagship small car, from DaimlerChrysler's Smart and BMW's Mini to Nissan's Micra. But what are the factors, now and then, that turned the microcar into a viable alternative to the 'normal' car? How have the aspirations and ideas behind the microcar changed over the decades? The cars themselves have undoubtedly undergone a radical transformation.
Whereas the current trend in small cars is led by environmental concerns, the first phase of the microcar phenomenon was determined by economic necessity: many manufacturers of planes, trains, and white goods had to re-invent themselves as producers of automobiles. The result was a proliferation of small, cheap and extraordinary looking three- and four-wheeled vehicles.
This book looks at the social and cultural conditions behind the rise, the fall and the ultimate resurrection of the small car, and features some of the most fascinating and best-loved examples. With the debate over transport, sustainability, congestion, fuel consumption, taxation and the environment high on the agenda, there has never been a better time than now to examine the role of the microcar.
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