Microcars: ten ultratiny cars designed for the city

From the experiments at the beginning of the last century to the many latest models, the dream of a city-sized car alternates between icons and failures.

Useful, enjoyable and often downright ugly. Smaller spaces, overcrowded cities and the need to cover fewer kilometres have led to failed experiments and great successes. In Japan, for example, microcars are a reference: they are called Keicars and have been brightening up the streets since World War II with their playful shapes that look like something straight out of a manga.

Violette by Marcel Violet

In selecting ten iconic models, however, it is worth starting from the beginning of the last century, in 1911, when Marcel Violet’s Violette (the man in the photo) appeared, a «cyclecar», considered one of the grandmothers of microcars. In fact, it was halfway between a car and a motorbike, with a lightweight automotive body combined with a one-two-cylinder engine. The result was an economical two-seater that benefited from tax breaks, but the arrival of Henry Ford’s assembly line marked its end.

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