I'm not sure whether I should smile or cry. As a student of post-war automobile history I've a natural affection for microcars, those mini-minis that for a few years were the first affordable vehicles for Europeans made destitute by the conflict. More fortunate North Americans driving cars wider than their own driveways may have laughed at these tiny machines but the rest of the world did not. That makes me smile.
What makes me cry is that, having created the world's finest and largest collection of rare microcars, the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum in Nashville, Mr. Weiner decided to retire. And in doing so, gave RM Auctions the opportunity to sell every one of his microcars at auction. Needless to say it was a huge success, generating more than $9.1 million with 100 percent of all lots sold. Top price went to a 1958 F.M.R. Tg 500 “Tiger”, the rarest Messerschmitt of all and the fastest microcar ever built with a top speed of 78 mph. It went for $322,000 – an all-time record for a microcar sold at auction (shown up top).
Indeed, the tandem seat Messerschmitt was a popular item among buyers. A 1955 Messerschmitt KR 200, formerly owned by American circus personality and entertainer Vic Hyde, went for a remarkable $115,000... a 1957 Messerschmitt KR 201 Roadster for a fantastic $103,500. These cars were very inexpensive when new yet faster than you might think. When I was racing modified sedans a competitor showed up with one, leading to a lot of laughs in the pits. He finished among the last five but was much quicker than anyone expected.
Small must surely be beautiful because the world’s smallest production car, a 1964 Peel P50, sold for an incredible $120,750 to applause from the crowd. Also breaking six-figures, a 1966 Peel Trident realized a remarkable $103,500 while a 1951 Reyonnah (a what?) drew $184,000.
So I'm happy for Bruce Weiner. I'm smiling for all those lucky buyers who put down big bucks for such small cars. Nevertheless I'm rather sad when such a rare and important collection is dispersed. Microcars were an important yet oft overlooked part of automobile history and I doubt we'll ever see another museum like this.