Microcar Mania at RM Sotheby’s upcoming London sale

AutoClassics looks at the best of the distinctive microcars being auctioned in RM Sotheby’s appropriately titled Weird & Wonderful Collection next month

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‘Weird & Wonderful’ microcars coming to London

Fans of the microcar will be very pleased that RM Sotheby’s is offering a few fine examples in its auction to be held in Battersea, London on September 5. They sit alongside plenty of other often outlandish vehicles in the appropriately titled Weird & Wonderful Collection. AutoClassics has picked out a few of the best microcars that will be available.

You can read more about the auction here.

Photos courtesy of RM Sotheby’s / Dirk de Jager

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1974 Zagato Zele 1000

You can make the case that the electric-powered Zagato Zele was ahead of its time. The firm, witnessing its traditional handmade Italian GT car market eaten into by Ford and the like, thought the unusual electric approach was worth a gamble. And it proved exceptionally well timed, as a year after its launch a fuel crisis hit.

The Zele’s ‘1000’ nomenclature reflects its wattage, and the car’s batteries are charged by plugging them into the mains via a transformer. It could get up to 25mph and travel around 50 miles on a full charge.

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1974 Zagato Zele 1000

The Zele for auction remained with its original owner – who was a regular user of the car – for 11 years. They sold it in 1985, and then the car passed through two private collections before it was purchased by the consignor. The car had a nut-and-bolt restoration in 2011, and a photo album of this process accompanies the machine. The vehicle is expected to fetch between £5000 and £10,000, with no reserve.

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1975 ACOMA Mini Comtesse

This is possibly the most curious car of all from a rather curious collection being auctioned – as ACOMA’s Mini Comtesse as part of France’s ‘L-Category’ that could be driven by those without a driving licence.

French legislation existed for simple A-to-B short-distance travel seemingly with mopeds in mind, but it underestimated the lateral thinking of designers. The Mini Comtesse exploited the rules to create a car equivalent. It stuck to the restrictions of 50cc engine maximum (indeed, it’s 49cc!), no more than three horsepower, and the vehicle had to be operable with pedals.

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1975 ACOMA Mini Comtesse

The model has more specific quirky features. The three-wheeled machine comes with a couple of training wheels on the front to help prevent the car rolling. It also has two doors – one of them a roof-hinged gullwing for when getting in or out while parked perpendicularly between two cars is a problem… It’s expected to bring in £5000 to £10,000, and is offered without reserve.

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2011 Peel Trident

The Peel Trident was developed from the Peel P50, with this younger sibling advertised as offering ‘saloon car comfort with scooter cost’.

The Trident was first launched in 1964, and its Jetsons-redolent clear plastic dome – offering all-round visibility – appealed to an age already enamoured with the possibilities of outer space. The single-cylinder car boasted three forward gears, a top speed of 38mph and reportedly offered 100mpg.

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2011 Peel Trident

In 2011 Peel started manufacturing the Trident once again, with production taking place near Nottingham. The cars were built to order with either petrol or electric powerplants available. It’s near-identical visually to the earlier models, but with added modern build reliability. It’s expected to go for £10,000 to £15,000, and has no reserve.

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1982 Tuk-Tuk Octopussy

The 1983 James Bond film Octopussy with Roger Moore may not be regarded as a franchise classic, yet fans do more readily recall its chase scene through Udaipur, India. In it, Bond left the palace to be followed by Kamal Khan’s henchman on Indian Tuk-Tuks! This Tuk-Tuk for auction is believed to be the very one driven by henchman Gobinda.

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1982 Tuk-Tuk Octopussy

This Tuk-Tuk was sold by stunt driver Remy Julienne to the Cars of the Stars Museum in England, which boasted several Bond vehicles. After being sold by the museum to a private owner, it was put up for sale and purchased by the current owner. It’s hoped to bring in £30,000 to £40,000, and is offered without reserve.

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1921 Peugeot Quadrillette

Cycle cars were produced for similar reasons as microcars – to provide a low-cost travel option. Not only were cycle cars inexpensive to produce and therefore to purchase, but they also often fell into less expensive road tax brackets and, with their small-displacement engines, were highly fuel efficient.

Despite this low initial outlay, though, cycle cars have since become hugely collectible. Indeed, the Peugeot was so successful that it’s said to have influenced the creation of the famous Austin Seven.

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1921 Peugeot Quadrillette

The 1921 Peugeot Quadrillette for auction was a later successor to the ‘Bebe’ cycle car designed by the legendary Ettore Bugatti. The Type 161 Quadrillette was produced in various forms between 1921 and 1924.

This version has been fully restored, and is powered by a 6.2bhp four-cylinder side-valve engine displacing 668cc. It’s expected to fetch between £15,000 and £20,000, and is offered without reserve.

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