As is our obsession with all things big, the same works for the other end of the spectrum as well. We do love all things small – which is why the social media is flooded with adorable videos of tiny teacup poodles and cats. And which is why people love to watch tiny food videos also – the ones in which you cook tiny food in tiny utensils and up making tiny cakes fit only for mice and such!
So in the same way, small and tiny day-to-day things appeal to us as well, the way large things do. If we are fascinated by the world’s biggest monster trucks or the longest limos – we also remain entranced by the smallest vehicles around. Small cars aren’t just city savvy, they look adorable and make us want one for just the cuteness factor. And the same goes for other vehicles – which is why you get small and compact SUVs as well – with all the sturdiness of an SUV merged with the ease of small car, perfect for couples or bachelors and for in-city adventures. Of course, some vehicles cross the limit of size and go into the completely bizarre.
So here are the 25 tiniest vehicles around that may or may not be in production, but forever remain etched for posterity.
25 Pint-Sized Cars: Brütsch Mopetta
Anything that has more than two wheels by definition turns into a car, and that’s what happened to the tiny Brütsch Mopetta, built by Egon Brütsch of Stuttgart, Germany. He built this one-seater for the 1956 International Bicycle and Motorcycle Exhibition. When an enthusiastic response followed, he turned this concept into production, making a total of 14 of these small wonders.
The car kick-started like a motorcycle, rode on three wheels and churned out 2.3 horsepower.
The last model made was 67 inches long, 35 inches wide, and 42.5 inches high and it basically looks like a bump-and-go car come to life.
24 Pint-Sized Cars: Mirai
Not to be confused with the hydrogen cell fuelled Toyota Mirai (Mirai meaning future in Japanese) is the Mirai electric car. It was developed by the students of Japan’s Okayama Sanyo High School and with a height of 17.79 inches, it is considered the world’s lowest car. It’s a sporty one-seater and can reach speeds of 50kmph. A single charge will take it 80km if a 30kmph speed is maintained. It is 98 inches long and 49 inches wide and against a full-size car basically looks like a toy.
23 Pint-Sized Cars: Pasquali Risciò
We are back to another three-wheeler… The Pasquali Riscio is named after the ubiquitous Indian rickshaw that runs around like a roach on high traffic city roads.
The very Italian maker of this three-wheeler car also makes tractors, so that’s a funny picture to paint.
With a very limited range of 50km per charge and a top speed of 40kmph, this puts Italian cars to shame! You can get this one as both a one and a two-seater; and the one-seater does not even require a driving license if driven in its birth city, Florence.
22 Pint-Sized Cars: Piaggio Vespa 400
For those of you who think the Vespa as only a scooter, you are partly right. It is a scooter but once upon a time, the Vespa 400 was a fantastic little microcar. We call it a microcar simply because it is small – just 360kilo in weight. 112inches long, 50incheswide and 50inches high – this four-wheeler could seat two adults and had a little extra space for a kid or some cargo as well. It came in a coupe version (Lusso) and in a cabriolet version (Turismo).
21 Pint-Sized Cars: Goggomobil Dart
The Goggomobil car was actually the German version of the Vespa. The Goggomobil Dart was inspired by its design but was made in Australia by Buckle Motors – by using the Goggomobil body shells that were turned into convertibles.
Then the height of the car was lowered as well to 44 inches.
A 120.1inch length and a 53.9inch width did not leave space for doors, so you simply stepped into this car. Sporty and fun, it did find many admirers, if not many buyers!
20 Pint-Sized Cars: Corbin Sparrow
Since this was a small bird, it was aptly named the Sparrow – so introduced in 1999, it was a little electric marvel but perhaps at that time, no one foresaw how environmentally important electric cars would get. This nifty three-wheeler weighed some 600 kilos and was 96 inches long, 48 inches wide and 57 inches high. In 2004, the failed Corbin Sparrow was taken over by Myer Motors for a revival and has been named as the Myers NmG (no more gas). Pre-booking orders are on and so is the crowd-funding.
19 Pint-Sized Cars: The Tango T600
The Tango T600 is a bit of an oddity when it comes to its dimensions. Created by Rock Woodbury of Commuter Cars, the electric Tango is surprisingly heavy at over 1500 kilos, but it is one of the “skinniest” cars – only 39 inches wide. Plus its 102 inches long and 61 inches high, so all in all, it looks like a normal car got squished between two trucks, cartoon style. It looks shaky but is in fact very road safe, and gives 100 miles on 70mph per charge.
18 Pint-Sized Cars: Fuldamobil N
While the early 1940s decimated pretty much everything and every county around, Germany was hit especially hard. With economic restrictions, technology underwent a minor revolution in this enterprising country.
In the auto world, the Fudamobil was born, and it survived almost 20 years from 1950 until 1969.
The very first model was the Fuldamobil N and it was 107 inches long, 52 inches high and 55 inches wide. Because of its silvery and somewhat flimsy body, it was nicknamed the silver flea.
17 Pint-Sized Cars: Autobianchi Bianchina Transformabile
For a car this tiny, it sure had a lot of brands behind it! This tiny little four-wheeler was so made under the Autobianchi name. This, in turn, was a joint venture between Fiat, Bianchi, and Pirelli – a partnership that lasted 40 years, from 1955 to 1995. The very idea of the Autobianchi marque was to make small cars, which is where the Bianchina Transformabile came in. At some 117 inches of length, 53 inches of width and 53 inches of height – it was as tiny as microcars can me.
16 Pint-Sized Cars: Isetta
Many people believed that the Isetta was a BMW creation but in fact, BMW only bought the license to sell it. A decision the company probably regrets till date!
Made by Iso Rivolta, it was licensed to BMW who sold it from 1955 to 1962.
Its rather distinctive shape gave it the nickname “bubble car”, and the horsepower’s bubble burst at a mere figure of nine! The smallest of the Isettas were less than 90 inches long, 53 inches wide and 52 inches tall.
15 Pint-Sized Cars: Elva Mk-VI
So the Elva Mk-VI was a race car built completely for speed. But it wasn’t an F1. If you are a Presley fan, you may remember its appearance in the movie Viva Las Vegas. Now while this car is all of 26 inches high, which is not high at all, it is almost five times in length at 141 inches. The creator, Frank Nichols, named it Elva as a twist to the French phrase, “elle va” or “she goes” and since she was a racing car, she really went!
14 Pint-Sized Cars: Peel P50
It used to be the Guinness Book record holder as the world’s smallest car, till it wasn’t. But it is still a tiny little thing and a clown of a car. The Peel P50 was a three-wheeled car made by Peel Engineering Company from 1962 to 1965 before it went kaput. It was 53 inches high and long, and 39 inches wide. The strangest thing about this car wasn’t its size – it was the fact that it came minus a reverse gear. It did have a handle to compensate because drivers could just swivel this 60-kilo car out of a tight parking spot when needed.
13 Pint-Sized Cars: Eshelman Sports Car De Luxe
The manufacturer of this tiny microcar, with a double emphasis on the small size – also manufactured small aircraft, boats, and tractors. In 1953, it started production of small cars for both children and adults. The adult version measured 54 inches in length, 24 inches in width and 23 inches in height.
It is one of the narrowest and shortest cars – and looks more like a toy ride on than a real car.
The company went kaput in 1961, but this little car is a nifty selling collector’s item to date.
12 Pint-Sized Cars: Smart ForTwo
Frankly, this one isn’t as small as the other ones on the list – but it is the smallest production car around, and you’ll see plenty of them in Europe and in the domestic market. It is a rear-engined, four-wheeled drive that comes in both convertible and coupe versions. It’s pretty simple to drive and very easy to park and let’s face it, it is so ugly that it’s cute! It’s fully electric and perfect for those grocery trips to crowded blocks and roads.
11 Pint-Sized Cars: Toyota COMS
While we are still figuring out the dimensions to this one, it looks very small and very nifty. For now, the totally electric COMS is being offered by Toyota only in its home country Japan for now. But with the SmartForTwo taking the world by storm, it shouldn’t be long before we start seeing this micro EV in domestic markets soon. With a very limited range of 50km with a top speed of 60kmph on a single charge, it would probably work best in small towns and cities.
10 The Smallest Car: Coulson Car
Move over Peel P50, because Austin Colson went ahead and made the world’s smallest roadworthy car and entered it in the Guinness Book Of World Records as well. Dimensions-wise, it stands at 25 inches tall, 25.75 inches wide and a little shy of 50 inches long.
The car is street legal in every meaning of the word – it has seat belts and windshield wipers and is licensed as a low-speed vehicle.
And that’s because its top speed is 33mph. But it is drivable by a full-sized adult.
9 The Smallest Aircraft: Bumble Bee II
So the name has not been taken from the Transformer franchise, where Bumblebee incidentally started out as the Mini Cooper but became the Chevrolet Camaro in the later movies. The name has been taking from the buzzing bumblebee, the kind that flits about in the garden and makes a sound loud enough to scare even the adults away. This particular aircraft stood at barely nine feet long from nose to tail and had a tiny wingspan of 5.5 feet. It was destroyed after it crashed, though we are sure this crash did not make an impact.
8 The Smallest Jet: Bede BD-5
At 162 kilos, this “jet” is the lightest there is. And in terms of a jet, it is not only light but feather light! And it has been the lightest jet in the world since 1971. Its turbo-fan powered and was built by aircraft designer Jim Bede and his now-defunct company Bede Aircraft Corporation. It came into the market in a kit form, and people could basically assemble their very own jet from it. The company went bankrupt before it could do too much.
7 The Smallest Helicopter: Gen H4
Gen Corporation in Japan churned out a helicopter that you basically dangle from if you dare. With a rotor length of just about 13 feet, the Gen H-4 is the smallest, tiniest and possibly the scariest helicopter around. It has one “seat”, one flimsy-looking landing gear and a power unit – and the entire thing weighs about 70kilos, the same as its pilot.
Oh, and it also doesn’t have a windshield so a visor helmet is advisable.
In case you are wondering where the tail rotor is, the one on top has two coaxial, counter-rotating rotors for both altitude and balance.
6 The Smallest Motorcycle: Smalltoe
The name probably comes from the fact that it’s not bigger than your foot, if not toe. So built by Swede Tom Wilberg, this tiny little machine stands at 2.55 inches and weighs just a kilo. And don’t think that it doesn’t run – Wilberg himself “rode” the motorcycle for some 32.8 feet, which considering its minuscule size, is quite a feat. All it churns out is 0.3 horsepower at a top speed of 1.24mph. We think it’s faster and easier to walk.
5 Pint-Sized Motorcycles: Suzuki DRZ400 SM
Compared to “Smalltoe”, this one is a veritable giant but in the world of Harleys and Hayabusas, this Suzuki supermoto looks petite. But as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover and a motorcycle by its size. Okay, we say the latter. It’s powerful enough to pretty much make any other dirt bike look like crap, and with a little tuning, it can work as a racing bike as well as the awesomely cool dirt bike it already is.
4 Pint-Sized Motorcycles: Honda CB500X
Cheap, comfortable and awesome for all-day city riding; the Honda CB500X is small only in its dimensions.
It has the heart of an elephant, though it may look more like a gazelle because its speed and comfort make it a blast to ride through heavy traffic.
Since its one of the smallest bikes around, it’s easy to maneuver around even the tightest of spaces. Plus it lets the rider maintain a decent posture that keeps the rider relatively back-pain free.
3 Pint-Sized Motorcycles: KTM RC390
For a super bike, the KTM RC390 is a pocket rocket. While it’s not very small for a bike, it is pretty small for a super bike. It was developed using the base of the very popular KTM Due 390, and remains a great bike to ride. It is light, has great corner stability, is easy to maneuver, and can take you to breakneck speeds with ease. People who go for it call it a complete joy to ride, and clearly, when it comes to good motorcycles – size is immaterial.
2 Pint-Sized Motorcycles: Yamaha SR400
The Yamaha SR400 is the smallest pint in Yamaha’s impressive Sports Retro line. It’s almost bulletproof 400cc engine is powerful enough to take you where you want, when you want. It takes its looks from the old Yamaha members, the XS1 and XS650 but has all the modern running gear to make for one smooth, easy and fast ride. Basically, unless you are holding out for a cruiser or a roadster, or even a massively paneled sports bike – these small motorcycles will take you on one fun ride, anytime, anyplace.
1 The Smallest Submarine: BIG
That’s the thing about small things made by big brains – they may be minuscule in size, but they often come equipped with large hearts and large motors. Pierre Poulin from Canada made the world’s smallest sub and named it BIG. No literally, the name of this submarine is “Big”. With a displacement of 620kilos, and it stayed submerged for 43 minutes to a depth of 5meters, at a distance of some 1500 feet from the launch bay. It can turn 360 degrees and make an ascent and a descent under its own steam.
Sources: AutoEvolution.com, TopSpeed.com, VisorDown.com