Big Interest in (Ugly) Small-Truck Auction

Microtrucks Lot 561 - 1957 Iso Isettacarro A II
By Larry Edsall

Photos by Darin Schnabel, courtesy RM Auctions

Some of the world's most unusual - and smallest - pickups will get new owners when The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum auctions its collection today and tomorrow in Madison, Ga.

How small are they? Well, most of them are small enough to fit into the bed of a modern half-ton truck.

"They're definitely a small segment," said Alain Squindo, an automotive specialist for RM Auctions, the company handling the auction.

Microcars were popular in postwar Europe, where the tiny vehicles designed to hold from two to four people helped get countries back on their self-propelled wheels after the devastation of World War II.

"They were mainly commuter cars," Squindo said, "but there also were some trucks made for very light duty."

Microcars and delivery vehicles - some had three wheels, some four - are powered by motorcycle engines and also were popular in Japan.

A few microcars were imported to the U.S., where the best-known is the BMW Isetta, one of which was featured in the 1989-98 television series "Family Matters" and was driven by the Steve "Did I do that?" Urkel character.

The Isettas from the 1950s and early '60s had wheelbases of less than 60 inches, were about 90 inches long overall, 48 inches wide (about the dimensions of a modern Polaris all-terrain vehicle) and rode on 10-inch wheels. Single- or twin-cylinder engines could propel them up to 65 mph.

Bruce Weiner, for whom the museum is named, is a longtime collector of various items, including automobiles. When he became fascinated with microcars some 20 years ago, he found a reference book and used it as a field guide to create his collection.

Squindo said that Weiner has traveled around the world searching - even digging out snowed-in barns and tearing down a brick wall - to find a microcar that someone hid away. He ended up with what many consider to be the world's best collection, which he is selling to fulfill another of his collecting pursuits.

Because the vehicles are so unusual, the auction is drawing unusual interest, not only from microcar collectors but from those who usually collect only exotic vehicles and realize this is a one-time opportunity to obtain some of the last best examples of a breed, Squindo said.

The auction will include more than 200 microcars - among them nearly a dozen pickups - as well as microcar memorabilia.

For more information, visit the RM Auction by clicking here. You can also check out this video below:



                                                 1961 BMW Isetta 300 Pickup

Microtrucks Lot 244_1961 Isetta 300 II
Italian motorcycle manufacturer Iso launched the postwar "bubble car" in 1951. In 1955, Iso sold rights to the Isetta to BMW, which switched the Isetta's engine from an Italian motorcycle engine to the 245-cubic-centimeter single-cylinder power plant it used on its R27 bikes. Later, a 298-cc version of the BMW engine was used.

In addition to a factory in Germany, BMW built the Isetta in England, which is where this factory-built prototype pickup version was developed and provided the basis for a small production run used by the Royal Air Force on its bases. The pickup bed, which was mounted above the four-stroke engine, could carry as much as 165 pounds of gear or ordinance.

RM estimates this prototype will sell for $35,000 to $45,000 at auction.


                                        1959 Goggomobil TL-400 Transporter Pickup

Microtrucks Lot - 297 - 1959 Goggomobil TL-400 II

This 1959 Goggomobil TL-400 Transporter Pickup was part of a series of microcars produced in southern Germany by Glas, which began making farm equipment in the 19th century and the Goggo motor scooter in 1951. Goggomobil microcars began in 1955 with German production later supported by a facility in Spain.

The largest customer for the Transporter Pickup was the German postal service, though the trucks also were used by towns and tradesmen as service and delivery vehicles.

This example, done in a Coca-Cola livery paint job, employs the largest 20-horsepower, 398-cc vertical twin two-stroke engine.

Expectations are that this TL-400 will fetch between $100,000 and $120,000 at auction.


                                                 1958 Eshelman Sportabout Coupe

Microtrucks Lot 342 - 1958 Eshelman Sportabout Coupe II
Cheston Eshelman of Baltimore got into the microcar business in 1953, producing fiberglass-bodied versions for adults and children. This unrestored Sportsabout Coupe can carry three people. Eshelman also produced coupe and van versions.

Its power - 18 hp - comes from a 67.3-cubic-inch-displacement Wisconsin THD vertical twin engine.

RM estimates a sales price at auction of $3,000 to $5,000.


                                                            1957 Iso Isettacarro

Microtrucks Lot 561 - 1957 Iso Isettacarro II
Renzo Rivolta had been manufacturing refrigerators under his Isothermo brand but switched to motor scooters and then to microcars with the Isetta, or "little Iso."

A pickup version was introduced as the Isettacarro and was so popular the company sold as many of small-delivery vehicles as passenger cars.

This Isettacarro was built in Spain. It's 11.5 feet long and has a 9.5-hp, 236-cc twin-piston two-stroke engine.

The museum obtained this pickup from the family of the original owner. It is expected to sell for $45,000 to $55,000 at auction.


                                                    1952 Mochet CM-125 Commerciale

Microtrucks Lot 606 - 1952 Mochet CM-125 Commerciale II
Mochet was a French company that began making cars in 1924. Some were powered by motorcycle engines, others by pedals turned by the feet of the driver and passenger. At the end of World War II, Mochet resumed production, at first with vehicles that had bicycle wheels propelled by small engines but supplemented with foot pedals.

In 1952, Mochet introduced two new models, including the CM-125 Commerciale (commercial vehicle) with a 3.5-liter, 125-cc single-cylinder two-stroke Zurcher engine. The Commerciale could carry two people and 330 pounds of cargo in its canvas-covered bed.

This one is expected to sell for $30,000 to $40,000 at auction.


                                                            1958 New Map Solyto

Microtrucks Lot 630 - 1958 Solyto II

New Map of Lyon, France, produced small roadsters powered by motorcycle engines before World War II. Production resumed after the war, but in 1952 the company introduced a small truck.

The engine was kick-started but the truck had a steering wheel instead of handlebars.

The Solyto, powered by a 4.5-hp, 125-cc Ydral one-cylinder two-stroke engine, was popular with farmers.

This example is expected to bring $15,000 to $20,000 at auction.


                                                              1960 Mazda K360

Microtrucks Lot 273 - 1960 Mazda K360 II
Europe wasn't the only microcar habitat. They also were popular in Japan, where the Daihatsu Midget, Mitsubishi Pet and Giant, and three-wheeled Kurogane cars were joined in 1960 by the Mazda K360.

The Mazda version featured independent dual mechanical and hydraulic brake systems, a "self-starting" motor (the 11-hp, 356-cc, two-cylinder engine was located just behind the seats), safety glass windshield and a steering wheel instead of the typical handlebars, as well as a roomy cabin for two and sliding windows.

RM anticipates this example being bid at $15,000 to $20,000.


                                                    1970 Subaru 360 Sambar Pickup

Microtrucks Lot 315 - 1970 Subaru 360 Sambar II
Subaru produced microvan and pickup versions of its 360 Sambar (sambar is the name of a deer native to India and domesticated for use carrying packs).

The 360 Sambar had a 25-hp, 356-cc two-cycle two-stroke engine mounted at the rear that powered the rear wheels.

This model, with drop-down bed sides, is expected to sell at auction for $15,000 to $25,000.



They had the right idea back then.
Economy and utility.

I find it rather amusing how the design of trucks have morphed into these giant beasts that are low on utility and economy but they certainly give the driver a feeling of manliness and adequacy that the early trucks didn't have.

That is one cool collection of vehicles. Post WWII, resources were scarce so it made sense to build tiny vehicles. Older parts of Europe that were built centuries ago had narrow winding streets for the purpose of community defence. Invaders would have a harder time ransacking a villiage. In more recent times, that kind of road grid kills access to our large vehicles.
I really like the little "Coke" pickup and top view of the 1957 Iso Isettacarro shows some amazing attention to detail. Great wood work.

Subaru still makes a version of the Sambar. One of the Jalopnik guys is so in love with them that when he was there to drive some other car (the Toybaru I suspect) the engineers let him drive one of the little trucks on the track. Apparently they are favorites of the engineers there too.

@Mark Williams.
I recently photocopied documents to be given to a person who donated a Zeta Lightburn car to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. There is an example at the The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum. Harold Lightburn made Concrete Mixers and Pneumatic car Jacks and some very industrial looking washing machines.
The car is TERRIBLE, but Lightburn did make a Ute version.

@Mark Williams
Fantastic stuff.

I can understand why some of the vehicles are small and not just for economy.

After travelling around some of the Bastides in the south of France you can see why small commerical style vehicles are necessary.

I can see a day in the not to distant future when vehicles will have to down size.

The Kei trucks of Japan are a classic example of maximising efficiency and size. Some can carry weight similar to your half ton trucks.

We actually have some in Australia, they have about a 4.5' wide bed that are about 6.5'-7' long.

Thanks for an interesting piece.

Maybe Australia can enter the nano truck market:)

Some lucky kid has a great father.

Good stuff.

I would have liked to see this collection before it was auctioned off. My wife had a Morris Minor in college and guys would carry it off and put it in the woods. I can see why they made these vehicles in post World War II era. It would be interesting to see a documentary on Bruce Weiner.

Here are some links to Powel Crosley and the Crosley car. Crosley was from Cincinnati, OH. I wonder if this collection includes some Crosleys.,_Jr.
google Images for crosley car

Awesome! This is my home town!



You say new trucks are low on utility...REALLY ? New trucks can tow/haul more than these ugly disasters could ever imagine to do ! And you can do this while having 6 people inside comfortably,something these tiny junk turds cant do,so they are not very useful at all....As for gas mileage I bet these are not as good as you think plus they cant even go 30 mph or up steep hills/mountains complete junk !

Furthermore,I am tired of dolts like yourself who think a size of as vehicle has to do with giving a driver a "feeling of manliness and adequacy " Its the theory of left wing dolts like you who I would love to have a few minutes with ! I just cant wrap/warp my mind into your thought of thinking ! I drive my truck because its comfortable/safe/reliable/powerful and I dont care about gas mileage,never did but it gets 18.5 average mpg...Same as 4 cyl cars several years ago ! By the way new smaller/mid size cars are too small and most have high seating meaning tall people like myself cant drive them longer than 10 minutes without major back pain..As cars are made for small people of 5'8 and I am 6'4 so these small turds are useless..

Also I cant stand people with your thought process thinking we buy vehicles to prove something to someone else...Or lacking a certain body part...Thing is as a small 5 year old child, I liked big cars and trucks ...When I got older I bought huge 1960's cars and still have a collection,I buy big cars and big trucks because its what I like ,I dont care what the dolt beside me thinks Its what I like...And its not because I am not big enough (non car people came up with that because they are ignorant and uneducated and just dont get anything ,and hate vehicles all they like are bicycles and taking public transit and they are scared of vehicles,cant drive a small vehicle so bigger vehicles scare them,as they do you I bet) Driving my many old BIG cars or new Big Truck is a major stress relieve to drive or just look at and hear especially the rumble of an old big block car idle..or excelleration the 440 slams you into your seat,chirps in second gear thats if you get traction and burnt rubber and clouds of tire smoke are plentiful as the two 100 foot black marks on the pavement it just left !

Just because you are a small man and depressed at the world and are scared to drive a big vehicle dont think your perverted thought process is that of everyone else,you are a sick person who needs medical attention..And as a real man I dont think of other mans private parts,this world today is really discusting and sick !

@Not MaXx
I think you don't have an understanding of life outside of your little world. Why attack MaXx? What MaXx stated had a high degree of logic in it.

My mid sizer is about 20' long, and I enjoy it. I even drove a Ford SD around and enjoyed it.

But the reality is the work we did with the SD we could have used a Kei truck. We only ever had two people in the dual cab and the load was small. The distance and speeds we were driving at for work wasn't every over 70mph.

The Kei trucks can carry as much weight as one of your pickups. They are fantastic utility vehicles, the Japanese have done a great job creating a flexible work platform.

Most pickups in the US are SUV/daily drivers. Most people can use a Corolla for much of their time.

These Kei trucks are used in countries like Japan and do much of your current pickup work and I would hazard to guess they are getting over 40mpg.

Have a look at what applications they are used for in my link.

@Big Al from Oz--Most Americans have no idea how the rest of the World operates. Our moto has been "Bigger is better" whether it be trucks, houses, food portions, TVs, etc. There is nothing wrong with big, it is just not always better in every situation and for everyone. Some of these guys equate their manhood with the size of their truck and the size of their gun. Why go hunting for deer with a rifle or bow when you can use an AK47. They don't teach history in many public schools and if you have history in school it is American History which use only 2 textbooks that teach about wars and presidents. Guys like Not MaXx have no idea what post WWII Europe was like. My wife flew for PanAm for over 25 years and she told me that even in the mid 70s that there were still bombed out buildings still standing in London from the German bombings during WWII. Building smaller vehicles that people could afford and that people actually used to rebuild their live and countries. I am not slamming big American trucks, I am just calling things the way I see them. Many of these guys live sheltered lives and have no idea what it is like to have to live on less. Most
Americans have no idea how lucky we are.

Many of the guys that I know who actually use their trucks for work and not as toys have a better idea of what it is like to struggle. You can ask my handyman who has built his own business from scratch and who does his own books or some of the real farmers I know. It is much different to use your truck to make a living instead of cruising the mall or going offroading just for the fun of it.

@Big Al from Oz.
- I do agree that guys like "Not MaXx" have a hard time seeing beyond the borders of USA or Canada. It is part and parcel of the mindset of many from the far side of the conservative spectrum. "Not MaXx" made reference to " left wing dolts", "hate vehicles all they like are bicycles and taking public transit"and multiple other examples.
MaXx's post pushed all of "Not MaXx's" political and ideological buttons. His lashing out in response is a clear sign of that.
I do agree with "MaXx" in as much as the truth is that for the size of out 1/2 ton trucks, they do not have the utility (Read cargo capacity) one would expect. The more seats you add and the more box length you add the less it can actually carry. That is no different than an SUV. You fold down a few rows of seats and you carry or haul more. You either haul cargo or haul passengers - not both at once. In a 1/2 ton, there is a bulk head between cargo and passengers. That is the only difference.
@"Not MaXx" - if you feel theatened by MaXx's comment lashing out in the manner you have done tends to affirm the "left's" viewpoint of truck owners. That viewpoint is one of ignorant, selfish neanderthals that don't see the future or the consequences of their actions.
I prefer a fullsized truck over the current meager crop of small trucks. I can explain my point without attacking, and NO, I'm not a left wing tree hugging nutswinger. I am on the conservative side of the spectrum.
I am not offended by the comment about truck size being inversely proportional to the size of one's junk.

It's great that you and Jeff S are back:)

I'm like you Lou and I do vote to the right, but I think we are what could be termed the "new right".

We have a more open view and are not insular and insecure.

If some buys an HD to do the shopping in I don't care.

I'm not a greenie either. But I wouldn't cut down a tree just to prove a point. Resources should be respected and used as such.

People like MaXx have no regard for anything but what they want and think and consider everyone around them should be the same. The man is insecure and fears, fear. What a sad state to be in.

@MaXx, try to respect rather than fear. They can appear to be similar, but there is a huge difference between them.

What a terrible world we would live in if everyone was the same.

@Big Al from Oz - thanks. I do find that this site is much better since the troll police have been moderating the blogs.

@Lou & @Big Al--I am a conservative and was raised a conservative, but I am from the old school of conservatism which believes in fiscal conservatism and does not try to force others into adopting my views or espouse morals. I have no problem with larger trucks, if I needed and wanted one I would get one. I do have issues with others that cannot see that not everyone is the same. I would not want a truck the size of a micro truck, but they serve a purpose. The Cincinnati Zoo has several Mitsubishi micro trucks to get around the zoo grounds. Why would they need or want an F-150 it would not fit down narrow paths. Everything has its purpose and function. There was definitely a purpose for micro cars and trucks in post WWII ravaged by the war and trying to rebuild itself and get back to normal. This is why history is important in that one has a better understanding of why people lived a certain way. I do find this article interesting and have an appreciation of micro cars and trucks. The links to the videos are great.

Some auction results: The '58 Eshelman shell sold for $2,300, the '61 Isetta factory pickup for $63,250, the '57 Isettacarro for $97,750.

And if you're interested in seeing microcars, the California Automobile Museum in Sacramento has a display of them -- PINT-SIZE: Microcars on the Road -- through April 21.

i love the coco cola truck! its so small and cute

@Larry Edsall - those are some impressive numbers, thus the term "collectibles".

This blog is very cute. The web design is very appealing and eye-catching. The article is well-written and can be considered as an interesting one to read. I never regret of stopping by to your website.

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