Odd balls - Revcounter 445

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You have to enjoy a good car show and, while I generally believe any form of organisation for such an event is grossly over-rated, there is something to be looked forward to at shows that are marshalled into a variety of themes.

On the occasion you trip over one, by far my favourite is what I prefer to call the ‘you have to be kidding’ section. You know, the orphans, the oddballs, the brilliant ideas that were clearly thought up late at night after one too many strong drinks. Then someone felt it was too late to back out and actually went ahead and built it.

Easily the best example I’ve come across in recent times was the wonderful Cooma Motorfest last year. (Given all that’s happened since then, it’s hard to believe that was a mere 11 months ago!)

Ms M Snr and I had decided to give the Kingswood a rest and cruise on up from Melbourne in the then newly-acquired luxo barge, the Benz 300SEL. Back then, you didn’t need a pass to cross the border!

It was a matter of minutes before the radar kicked in and Muggins was gravitating to the pair you see here: an Isetta and an Amphicar, children of the crazy fifties and sixties.

Now partner in crime and magazine Art Director Angelo and I actually got to play with the Amphicar, thanks to the generosity of owner Tony Nassar. See the story this issue.

While these things didn’t exactly set the world on fire in a commercial sense, they lasted for a respectable period of time and found customers, despite the weird mission statement – float like a Chris Craft, sting like a Volkswagen (or something like that). There were even folk who found a practical use for them.

Now? Well I reckon being able to drive straight into a lake, preferably with a completely unsuspecting passenger, is as much, if not more, fun than anything Ferrari can offer.

As for the Isetta, I’ve never had the pleasure. There’ll be a reason for that, as I think they were designed for normal sized humans and I’ve kinda fallen off the edge of that spec sheet. But again, you have to admire the creative thinking: let’s come up with car shaped like a bubble, that’s as small as we can make it. And just for kicks the whole front of the cabin is a door.

Normal people would have laughed out loud at the idea, sobered up, and forgotten all about it the next day. No, the Isetta in fact lasted around eight years, was built in various forms by four different makers and is now quite valuable.

Oddballs, you have to love them, don’t you?


From Unique Cars #445, Oct 2020

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