You’re Gonna Like the Way This Vintage Microcar Auction Makes You Feel. We Guarantee It
But really. Check ’em out.
If you're tired of cars getting bigger and angrier, then boy do we have some good news for you. If you have a little spare cash lying around, aren't afraid of being the crumple zone, and have a particular liking for adorable cars in mint condition, RM Sothebys is running an auction that you'll likely want to watch. That's because the auctioneers are selling off The Elkhart Collection, a selection of vehicles that includes nearly three dozen tiny vintage microcars.
There's an Isetta pickup conversion, at least three Messerschmitt three-wheelers, and a plethora of other tiny automobiles just begging for a new owner. There's also a great variety of non-tiny cars, and they're in great shape, too.
The Messerschmitts are the smallest fare here, all powered by a single-cylinder, two-stroke engine making somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 horsepower. Power is sent to the single rear wheel via a four-speed transmission mated to a chain drive. There's snug, tandem seating for two in the car, and one of them is even a convertible.
Price estimates range anywhere from $50,000 to six figures for one of the rarer models, so while these Messerschmitts may be the smallest here, they are definitely not the cheapest.
Also for sale are a few unique Minis. Although not quite microcars, we're including them on account of the interesting variety of models for sale. A pickup, a long-wheelbase Countryman, and even a custom Mini race car are on offer. All three are also on the reasonable end of pricing, with the pickup estimated for sale as low as $15,000. The racer is the most expensive, with the high end of its value at $40,000.
The power output of the four-cylinder engines in these Minis varies; however, none have received engine swaps or anything like that. All three have manual transmissions, with the racecar being the furthest from stock.
A couple of the offerings are also set up as commercial vehicles, or police cars, like these three. The 1958 Goggomobil TL-250 on the left is painted up as a Dubble Bubble gum truck, which is cute. And with 14 horsepower, it can haul around so much gum, you wouldn't believe it.
The car in the middle is a 1948 Crosley CC Four, known as the "Happy Wagon" because it delivers ice cream. It's actually a restored version of one of 12 identical cars actually used to deliver ice cream back in its day. It has coolers, ice cream scoops, and even a uniform to go along with it. I'm not sure if roleplaying as a 1940s ice cream man is in style yet, but you could be a real trendsetter here.
Also available is a 1970 Subaru 360 police car in New Zealand Transportation Ministry livery. The 360 was actually Subaru's first automobile and is in the "Kei" class of vehicles in Japan. That means it's very small, very light, and very slow. As the ad states, you're unlikely to catch any speeders in this car. The 360's inline two-cylinder engine is rated at just 25 horsepower.
Both of these Isettas are of the wider-stance four-wheel variety. In fact, one of them has been converted from its usual short-wheelbase configuration into a pickup. It's a not conversion done recently, however. Known as the Isettacarro, it was produced under license from Iso—the original manufacturer of the Isetta—in Spain during the '50s. We can assume the bed is new because it's in such great shape, but the listing claims the vehicle is largely original. I wouldn't try any clutch dumps in this car—just take a look at the little toy differential. Absolutely precious.
The other car is one of the more popular Isettas built under license by BMW. It's an extremely clean example, being featured at the New York International Auto Show in 2011. It has sliding windows as opposed to the conventional vent window setup, which is apparently desirable.
Two vintage military miniatures are also for sale as a part of the auction: an absolutely adorable AMC Mighty Mite and an original Vietnam-era Mule. The 1968 Mule is expected to go cheap, though to be fair, it only has a two-cylinder engine with 16 horsepower. Seating is also a bit limited, but this thing would still be cool for tooling around the farm in.
The Mighty Mite, meanwhile, is a little jewel. With a 58-horsepower, 1.8-liter V4—not an inline-four, mind you—the Mighty Mite has some serious power. Built to be an even smaller, air-droppable version of the Jeep, the Mighty Mite has a four-speed manual transmission and four-wheel-drive. Just under 4,000 were produced, making the Mighty Mite a desirable vehicle today. It's also not lacking in features, with luxuries such as vacuum-operated wipers and a speedometer. Well, these are luxuries when you compare it to the Mule.
None of these vehicles are microcars—just excellent honorable mentions. The first, Hudson's rare post-war pickup, is amazing. Truly one of the prettiest pickups from that era, it's expected to sell for south of $40,000. To think people have paid more for '90s work trucks on Bring a Trailer is truly unbelievable.
The second is an Iso Grifo, which is is one of the prettiest and most interesting Italian-American mashups ever made. With beautiful styling and a 340-horsepower 327 V8 from Chevrolet, it's truly the best of both worlds. It's just one of 413 Iso Grifos made, so it will be going for quite a chunk of change.
And if the Iso Grifo is one of the prettiest cars ever made, the Auburn 851 Speedster might be the top dog. Powered by a supercharged Lycoming inline eight-cylinder engine, it has bodycolor wire wheels wrapped in whitewall tires. With a red interior peeking outside the car to compliment the rest of the vehicle's restrained colors, it's just fantastic. Nothing beats massive louvers, exposed exhausts, and "SUPERCHARGED" written on the side of the hood.
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