The L’Oeuf Electrique (The Electric Egg) was a 3 wheeled microcar built in Paris in 1942, by Paul Arzens, an Engineer and Artist as a bespoke lightweight personal car. The designation of “Egg” car was soon attached to this unique car as it was seen driving around Paris in 1942 and was likely the first bubble car.
Designed by Alan Evans in 1983 and produced in Hull, UK by Bamby Cars Limited. The name ‘Bamby’ was Anglicised from Alan’s first choice ‘Bambino’ Italian for baby, because the car was small like a baby. The concept originally was to make a microcar for his wife so she could drive to the shops, make short trips, occasionally carrying a small child, and all the while be out of the weather. As a Microcar enthusiast Alan had earlier made his own copy of the famous Peel P50 which he drove locally. Alan understood and thoroughly researched the technical and engineering specifications of car construction in preparation of making his one-off car.
1984 Bamby Cars Limited was taken over and production moved to a new modern factory in Hull, UK. At the request of new management Alan Evans revised the Bamby’s design and the Bamby Cars team promptly completed the Bamby Car Mk2 prototype which was painted red. Soon after Alan Evans sold his remaining shares ending all association with Bamby Cars Limited.
From 1959–1961 Bill Buckle of Sydney famously imported the Goggomobil from Germany into Australia and in 1960 using the base of the successful Goggomobil Dart sedan, produced the Carryall delivery van completely in house from his own unique design. The concept was to produce a utilitarian van that would have a cheap purchase price, was efficient to run and have a good carrying capacity. The resulting Goggomobil Carryall looked like a shrunken version of the renowned VW Kombi Van, complete with its two tone and V at the front, but uniquely this mighty microcar achieved a huge carrying capacity of 2.8 m3.
Egon Brutsch, of Germany, designed the Avolette Record. Utilising bubble shapes and glass fiber shells joined with a rubber seal connecting the top and bottom sections. Mr Brutsch successfully licensed his concept to several European businesses and had more success with this than himself building the cars.
The Zeta ‘Runabout’ Sedan, it is true, was spacious and convenient enough to carry most loads, at least in a recreational or small-job capacity. But it was not the most suitable vehicle for business- or fleet-owners. Lightburn & Co, however, would not let a large piece of the market slip away, and so they developed a version of the Zeta vest suited to common use in the manufacturing and working sector—the Zeta Utility.
Between 1963 and 1965 Lightburn & Co., an Australian tool- and boat-manufacturing company based in Adelaide, started to manufacture a compact, light, and incredibly convenient vehicle which was dubbed the Lightburn ‘Runabout’ Zeta. The Zeta, also known as ‘Australia’s Micro-Car’, was the brain-child of the company’s managing director and founder, Harold Lightburn, who had been excited by the idea of manufacturing a car since the 1950s. He believed that many Australians who already owned a car would love the convenience of a second, a versatile and spacious vehicle that could be used for just about anything. He wanted to design a vehicle that was lightweight, small and simple, which was also reliable and of low cost to maintain.
On 14 June 1964, three Lightburn Zeta Runabouts started a courageous durability race in the Ampol Around Australia Trial with another 144 cars. An endurance race of 7000 miles (11 260 km) traversing 4 States and 1 Territory over 14 days. Starting and finishing at Bondi Beach, NSW and racing to Brisbane, Rockhampton, Bourke, Adelaide, along the Great Ocean Road, Melbourne, through the Snowy Mountains and back to Sydney.
The 1960 BSA Ladybird 3 wheeler was an original experimental idea by Edward Turner – Managing Director of BSA and is said to have been sketched on the back of a cigarette packet in June 1960 and produced in only 9 weeks by master craftsman Ben Johnston of Carbodies of Coventry which was part of the BSA group.
The Japanese Suzuki Mighty Boy (SS40T) was produced from February 1983 to January 1988. The Suzuki Mighty Boy still has a following in Japan and Australia. The 1986 Suzuki Mighty Boy Variant (SS40T – PS-QL) “BIGRIG” is the flagship of Microcar Models Australia.