The Little Car Show at Monterey Car Week is usually a huge fan favorite, and 2017 was no different. While we were expecting there to be some microcars mingling with all the littles, there was nary an Iso Isetta, Scootacar, or Messerschmitt in sight.
Regardless, there was plenty of great mini metal to be eye-balled in downtown Pacific Grove, and not just your expected fare of Mini Coopers, Fiats, and MGs. From pint-sized Japanese rarities to owner-built bantam whips, here are some of our favorite sweet petites.
Something Worth Staring At
Designed and produced by Ogle company founder David Ogle, this British 1963 Ogle SX1000 GT pipsqueak is built on a Mini Cooper chassis. Only 66 of this rare cutie, which also shares the Mini’s 997-cc drivetrain, were built. Of those, only five are known to have made it to the United States.
While the Ogle company still exists today, they are exclusively in the custom automobile business. They have the distinct honor of having designed and fabricated Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder from the original “Star Wars” movie in the mid-70s. The Force is strong with this little one.
Made by an offshoot of Italian bicycle company Biachi, the Autobianchi Bianchina was based on the Fiat 500 and even initially given the same 13kW 15 horsepower engine. Until 1959, that is. This Bianchina Special makes a whooping 21 hp, three more horses than the standard 17 hp-model for that same production year. Vrooom.
Only 1500 of these Specials were made, making it, well, special. This cabriolet version is the only model to have suicide doors. The restoration is historically correct save for the white top, which the owner thought just looked better white. There’s one exactly like this example going up for auction from Gooding here this week in Monterey that’s expected to go for $75,000. Special indeed!
A Car for All Seasons
One of our favorite teeny tots vying for one of the Little Car Show’s illustrious trophies is the Japanese made Nissan Figaro that was only produced for one year in 1991. The rare-to-find rag-top was painted in four colors to represent the seasons, Topaz Mist (Autumn), Emerald Green (Spring), Pale Aqua (Summer), and Lapis Gray (Winter).
While it looks like Hello Kitty might drive this car, with its four-wheel independent suspension, 76 hp, and 78 lb-ft of torque, this puppy has a top speed of 106 mph and would make a solid—and adorable—daily driver. Hello Kitty could do a lot worse.
Dr. Frankenstein’s Mini
The owner-built Ewock might be our best of show and looks like something welded together by some evil-genius kid in auto shop. The body is two fenders from a 1946 Plymouth welded together and powered by a bicycle engine hooked up to a 12-volt battery.
The grille, turn signals, console switches and brake lights are from a 1969 Jaguar XJ6. Its wheels are off a wheelbarrow and a hand truck. The chassis is a part of a massage table and the seat is from a kindergarten classroom. Also comes complete with press-to-operate headlights and tillers for steering. What an awesome little monster!
This year, the Little Car Show honored Scandinavian cars. Or rather, Scandinavian car, as a 1974 Saab Sonnett III was the only one that showed up. This model uses the Ford 1.7-liter V-4 engine and is from the final year of its production.
This sleek Swede has front-wheel drive and an all-fiberglass body with hidden headlights that need to be operated manually. A total of only 8,368 Sonnett IIIs were produced. Glad this nugget showed up to the celebration in its honor.
Autozam! Sounds like a car air-freshener from the folks at As Seen on TV. But this 1994 AZ-1 from Autozam, which is a sales channel of Mazda’s in Japan, was actually designed and made by Suzuki, is considered one of the rarest Kei sports cars.
Certainly, it’s one of the most unique thanks to its gullwing doors. Only 4,392 of them were made and of those they owner claims there are only about a dozen in the U.S., as they were never sold in the states. Pow!