Would You Drive One of the 10 Smallest Cars Ever Made?
I love my tiny Toyota Yaris (and the terrific gas mileage it gets), but it's a behemoth compared to some of the smallest vehicles ever made. Which one of these diminutive automobiles would you be willing to drive? (See also: Guide to Buying a Used Car Without Going Crazy)
Why make cars that seat four or six when most trips are made solo? Way back in 1957, Carl Jurisch became convinced that the future of transportation lay in a personal single-seat vehicle, and he set about building a prototype. His love for two-wheeled vehicles is evident in the Motoplan — a small, personal three-wheeled vehicle that bridged the gap between cycle and car.
2. Peel P50
At a mere 54 inches long and just 41 inches wide, it's little surprise that the UK engineered Peel P50 held the Guinness Book of World Records' title of smallest car for over 50 years! Its 'big' sister, the Peel Trident, is the world's smallest two seater. Both are collector's items now, but still fully street legal in the UK.
3. Mia Electric
Experts say the higher price tag is why people have been slow to adopt electric vehicles. France's Mia Electric Company hoped to overcome that barrier with this tiny offering: a three-seat all electric vehicle measuring just (9 feet, 5 inches), with two sliding doors and a centrally positioned driver's seat.
4. Tango by Commuter Cars
When most of us get in the car, our destination is two miles away (or less), and we're typically alone. So why drive vehicles with massive gas tanks and eight seats? The Tango was designed to offer the speed and agility of a motorcycle along with the security of a sports car. At 8 feet 6 inches long (and 5 inches narrower than the average motorcycle) can park perpendicularly to the curb like a bike, making it a dream in crowded cities.
5. Smart Fortwo
It's time to reject the notion that small can't be sexy. The Smart Fortwo Pure Coupe is a mere 106 inches long and just 61 inches wide, but once inside you'll forget all about its compact body. The two-seater Coupe offers both automatic mode (for ease) and manual mode (for fun), and hill start assist; and it's packed with standard safety features such as eight full-size airbags.
6. Fiat 500
Fiat is another classic tiny car maker now experiencing a renaissance. Manufactured between between 1957 and 1975, the Fiat 500 measured just 9 feet 9 inches long, and was originally powered by an itty-bitty 479 cc two-cylinder, air-cooled engine. It is believed to be the smallest car to complete a world circumnavigation.
7. Velam Isetta
This two-seater car used the motorcycle engine of the Iso Moto 200, so was dubbed "Isetta" — an Italian diminutive meaning little ISO. The entire front end of the car hinged outwards to allow entry and the roof was made of canvas to allow for emergency exit in the event of a crash. Thanks to its small size (only 7.5 feet long by 4.5 feet wide) and egg-shape with bubble-type windows, the Isetta became known as the "bubble car."
8. Mahindra e2o
Most electric vehicles necessitate special charging stations that represent an added cost (or inconvenience) but not the Mahindra e2o. Measuring just 129 inches long by 59 inches wide, this tiny EV can simply be plugged into a normal electrical outlet, just like your laptop. (See also: Should Your Next Car Be Electric?)
9. DIY Car by Austin Coulson
If you look too quickly, you might mistake it for a child's toy, but this car built by Arizona's Austin Coulson is no joke. At just 2 feet 1 inch high, 2 feet 1.75 inches wide and 4 feet 1.75 inches long the car is fully drivable, licensed, and registered, and it earned the 2014 Guinness Record for the world's smallest roadworthy car.
10. Daewoo Matiz
Speaking of toy cars, many of us tooled around in one of those plastic pedal cars as a child, but few of us dreamed of making a road-worthy version. English mechanic John Bitmead recently made headlines by doing just that. Bitmead converted a tiny Daewoo Matiz (now sold as the Chevy Spark) into an adult-sized replica of the classic toddler Cozy Coupe that's capable of traveling 60 mph.
Can you see yourself in one of these diminutive daily drivers?