This 1.5 metre single-seater was one man’s 1956 vision of the personal sportscar

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Eshelman Microcar front side Eshelman Microcar front side
Eshelman Microcar front Eshelman Microcar front
Eshelman Microcar rear side Eshelman Microcar rear side
Eshelman Microcar interior Eshelman Microcar interior
Eshelman Microcar packaging Eshelman Microcar packaging

Some years before the Ford Mustang took the personal sportscar movement to new heights, there was this – and it was actually street legal

This wasn’t what I was expecting when Editor Allen flicked me an email saying that he’d found a 50s American personal sportscar for sale for under US$10,000.

It’s a 1956 Eshelman Deluxe Adult Personal Sportscar, apparently, although I could’ve sworn it was merely an old bumper car that someone had stuck wheels on.

The pint-sized microcar was the brainchild of eccentric American inventor, Cheston Eshelman.


Eshelman, before dedicating himself to the invention of miniature motorcars, had his heart set on the skies. Legend has it that at the age of 23 in 1939, he crash-landed a monoplane on a "flight to mars", which ultimately inspired him to design his patented wingless "Flying Flounder" in the early 40s.


In peacetime following World War II, Eshelman set up shop in Baltimore Maryland, and focused his attention of personal tractors, and later scooters.


By 1953, he had turned his attention to his futuristic vision of personal mobility: a truly sub-compact personal car design with seating for one, costing the fraction of a full-size car, and promising 70 miles per gallon (almost 30km/litre).

The car was powered by an air-cooled 102cc Briggs & Stratton one-cylinder sending power through a centrifugal clutch and a single-speed belt drive. Four-wheel mechanical paddle brakes engage the tyres directly to scrub off-speed from the 8.5hp (6.3kW) motor. Apparently 40km/h is achievable, which we imagine would’ve been absolutely terrifying even back in the 50s. And this was amazingly a road-legal vehicle in its day!


This handsome two-tone white-over-blue example is the Deluxe model, denoted by its rocket side trim. It’s received an older restoration and does show some slight yet consistent patina. With minimal use under its belt, it would make for some great garage décor.

The little Eshelman is on sale at Classic Avenue in Venice California for US$9,900(AU$13,747).

That isn’t a lot of car for the money, but it pales in comparison to Bugatti’s $50,000 children’s toy.


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