Some, like the Autozam, were Jalopnik favorites. Others though? I genuinely had no idea what they were as I’d never seen nor heard of them before. Especially the little French cars. Bonus points if you can help identify any of them.
The legendary AZ-1. This car shows up at Japanese car day every year so I was hoping it’d be here too. Despite the extravagant exterior, the interior is relatively spartan, like most kei cars:
Another kei classic, the Nissan Figaro. I’m not sure about the front end but the rear reminds me of an old Datsun roadster, and the decidedly vintage interior is pretty amusing. The HVAC controls are straight out of the sixties.
A Pacer! It was interesting to compare the size of its interior to the rest of the cars here. It’s actually quite spacious, relatively speaking:
A Lotus 7. Potentially a real one? It’s so similar to a Caterham that I genuinely can’t tell. The interior looks vintage, and it has drum brakes.
A Fiat taxi! It looks 500 based to me, but other than that I have no idea what it is. Regardless, this is definitely original as it still had the fare meter attached to the dash.
What is this!? It has a Citroen badge on it and looks very industrial. You can’t even tell what color it used to be. Red? Orange? Pink? The rear has two small seats that fold down and have a truck bed style finish on the back for sliding things over them.
Unexpected: A 700.
A Panhard. That’s all I know (because it says so on the front). It had a very unusual steering wheel/gauge cluster arrangement:
A Messerschmitt! Talk about a coffin on wheels. The license plate on the rear suggests that this was driven all the way from New York too. The steering wheel is extremely weird, it looks like a bakelite boomerang.
Some kind of Renault delivery van decked out in Michelin livery. It seems like the people who import these kind of things love finding workhorses, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was actually a tire delivery truck back in the day. Pretty cool.
The Doug Demuro special. Without a doubt, the tallest car at the show.
The Microcar Classic is unique in that kids (along with their friends and family) are offered rides in some of the cars. One of my friends has a toddler, so we took advantage of the opportunity. The drive was a short loop on private property, so the eccentric owner of this (woody wagon?) Mini stuffed 3 people in the back and filled the other rows of seats too. It was surprisingly loud in there, and the owner said that at highway speeds, it’s not the overall sketchiness of the drive that prevents you from going over 60MPH, but the sheer volume of the experience.
A Honda 600 with a grammatically incorrect vanity plate. Note the tiny “power bulge” on the hood. It’s amazing that AMC thought they could counter something this clean and crisp with two misshapen lumps (the Gremlin and the Pacer).
A Mini Moke. I’ve always thought that the infatuation with these was ridiculous, but after seeing a couple in person (and especially in this ludicrous Lambo green color) I totally get it.
I recognize the oddball shape of this one but beyond the Citroen badge, I have no idea what it is. Very futuristic. And of course, it has a “typical” (insane) Citroen interior.
An abomination from behind the iron curtain. The only thing I know is that it had this badge on the front, which says “Fulda Mobil - Werk Fulda.” East German, presumably? It’s incredibly crude. This “car” makes that Messerschmitt look like a Mercedes.
A Subaru 360, which I think is the first Subaru ever offered in the USA?
As you’d expect, there were a few 2CVs at the event.
A Vespa. Maybe the Euro crowd can identify the model? It’s unbelievably small, note the big American behind the wheel: I bet he wouldn’t even fit inside it if the top was up.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the show was going for a ride in this DS. That has been an automotive bucket list item of mine for years. The seats were like a cross between a worn out mattress and a water bed. You didn’t sit in them, you sank into them. And the ride quality? Just as good as you’d expect. It truly does live up to the hype.
In the Mini, you felt every single bump through the stiff suspension and hard seats. The DS glided over everything, and totally eliminated all of the smaller imperfections in the road. It felt like for the most part, the chassis wasn’t moving at all while the trick suspension did all the work. Furthermore, when it did hit a bump that was large enough to move the car, the Citroen floated over it like a land yacht on the highway, but in a more controlled fashion. There was no lurching involved, just a slow rise up and back down again. 10/10. Now I really want one...
This was such a fun show. There were no cigars, boat shoes, or golf shirts. The atmosphere was the antithesis of the vibe at all of the high dollar shows the Larz Anderson puts on, which was a nice change of pace.