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Streetwise

The truth is out there--smart people drive tiny cars

By Tai Moses

BACK IN THE 1950s, before the American people lost all sense of proportion, there were still a few cars being manufactured that made sense. Not many, just a few. And they were small--very small. Like most other oddballs, fringe elements and cultural phenomena, these hard-to-find little cars can be found on the web, at the MicroMiniCar site at www.cjnetworks.com/~msabat.

This unpretentious and charming site is primarily an excuse for its creator, Mr. Sabatini, to show off his collection of restored BMW Isetta Bubble Window 300s. Why should we care about a diminutive automobile made between 1955 and 1962? Because, quite simply, the good Lord never made a more adorable--and fuel-efficient!--car. And if he did, it was the Messerschmitt (its two-stroke engine gets 100 miles per gallon) or the lovable Fiat Bianchina, a photo of which will make the microcar aficionado drool with envy. Also featured are the Berkeley, the Vespa 400, the Metropolitan and other rare and obscure peewees like the Micrus and the Flying Feather.

In addition to photographs, the thoughtful Sabatini provides many links to other minicar sites. His celebration of little autos shows that solace and sanity can be found in the small, the meek and the mild. The next time you look in your rearview mirror and see one of those hulking Lincoln Exterminators bearing down upon you, you'll thank him.

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From the May 9-16, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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