Premium From Germany to Switzerland and back in two strange, minimal microcars. The past meets the present and it is clear that everything was not better before, but perhaps the past can refine the present?
The plan is ready: I’m going to drive an Isetta from Stuttgart to Zurich and back to Stuttgart in a Microlino. Winged on my fantastic idea, I call Microlino and the Ouboter family. With slight irritation in his voice, the slightly over-excited reporter from Stuttgart is allowed to carry out his plan.
BMW has just completed the renovation of an Isetta 250 Export that shines again in a delicious two-tone paint job. Thanks, Munich! For the 1959 model, Export means a coupe-like roofline, sliding windows and juicy twelve horses from a single-cylinder air-cooled 250-cubic-meter motorcycle engine.
Sepp, the BMW mechanic, comes with the microscopic car. He unloads the treasure from a giant transport car and explains: “The coupling has no pressure points because the wire is two meters long. One is down to the right and if the steering is sluggish, you have not closed the door properly!”
That’s right, the door. The car’s only door is in the front and when it is opened, the steering wheel follows. Then you throw yourself in the car, pull the shock, wake up the Dynastart engine with a key twist, pump with the gas and the single-cylinder engine starts!
Hammers? Oh yes. Loud, vibrating and rattling. I step on the minimum clutch pedal, poke in one, release the clutch and voila: engine stop.
“Once you get started, it’s like a dance,” Sepp encourages. However, I will not get started. Gives more gas, lifts the clutch at millimeter speed, Isettan takes a shot, and we are finally off. It was about time.
Asthmatically, the engine pant even higher as it climbs up the speed belt. Coupling, the next gear and already now the small red hand in the microscopic VDO round shows 40 km / h – maximum speed in Stuttgart.
The lovingly renovated Isettan excites. Technically, the small tin can is a challenge. Respect for everyone who whizzed across the Alps in an Isetta when it went.
Faster than 81 km / h however, it never seems to be possible, despite the car’s official figures claiming that the top speed is 85 km / h. We head south on the autobahn, the plate in the carpet, turn off at three and poke at four.
Look there, there is even wind noise which, however, does not succeed in overpowering the engine, which purely subjectively roars at 120 decibels. Everything shakes, hums, clinks and rattles in resonance – the steering wheel, the row of seats, the body panels and not least my brain cells.
My self-pity ends abruptly when I read in the rearview mirror six inverted letters in about the same size as the entire car’s rear window: SCANIA. The truck driver who I seem to have slowed down for a while back is annoyed.
Haha, how does it feel now? How often have people like that particular driver not turned into the left lane without warning in front of me? Revenge is sweet! In the air vortices that form behind the truck, I have a hard time keeping Isettan on course.
She jerks to the left, she jerks to the right. I control, even out. The steering is sluggish, the fasik, is the door closed? After eleven miles I need a break. For safety’s sake, I’m refueling. I get a full 4.4 liters, this was a frugal dwarf.
At the border with Switzerland, a rain front pulls in over us, the windshield wipers wave for everything they are worth and the heater shovels a dubious mixture of minimally heated air and stinking exhaust fumes into the cabin. Fortunately, there are two sliding windows.
250 km later I’m completely exhausted and a little proud of my achievement of having driven all the way from Stuttgart to Zurich at full throttle.
As a thank you, I now get to admire Microlinon in all its glory. The handmade prototype is proudly presented by father Wim and his sons Oliver and Merlin Ouboter. Microlino actually looks more like Isettan than you think.
Properly designed, one can hardly see that Isettan’s spiritual successor is wider, longer and taller than her role model. The front door opens elegantly thanks to gas springs, but the steering column stays where it stood. Getting past the steering wheel is easy, even today’s people can fit without problems. Compared to the newcomer, Isettan feels most like a niche product for shrunken Germans.
Compactly furnished: gear lever, choke, heater and handbrake – ideal for left-handers. The changing scenery is strangely mirrored.
The interior is almost luxurious. Instead of a gear lever and gearbox, you will find a knob for forward, backward and parking. The rest is taken care of via the accelerator pedal. I close the door with the help of a fabric loop, the last centimeter is handled by the soft close automatic. Exclusive!
Welcome to a digital world. The screen behind the steering wheel informs about consumption and speed. The electric motor also feels really powerful. Rarely has an electric driveline felt as fitting and as meaningful as in the Microlino. It goes quietly and smoothly, completely without shifting and without having to perform a lot of dubious rituals as in other electric cars.
Down with the pedal and the landscape swishes by. Simple and efficient. The best: The Microlino has a real chassis. Road holding is provided by individual wheel suspensions with cross links and spring struts. Then you actually dare to throw the car into the curves.
The past meets the future. The cars are similar to each other, Microlino hides its extra centimeters very skillfully.
By comparison, the Isettan’s ten-inch wheel gets stuck in every single hole in the road, the front and rear axle can not and also do not want to cooperate at all. Even in slow curves, you feel the anxiety creeping up the spine, something that gets even worse when we go down serpentine roads with terribly bite-free brakes. Each hairpin curve evokes spontaneous sweating and panicky reading of Our Father.
In retrospect, I have to admit that the trip with the Isettan is the scariest (car-related) I have ever done. Now it’s over and I’m still alive. Always something. How relaxed a modern city car feels in comparison can hardly be described in words.
Dynamic in town? Swing the whip and drop all 27 horses against the rear axle? Yes, it works really well. Microlino may be small but smart and stable.
Brilliant through the metropolitan jungle. Microlino had been an appropriate response to the cities’ mobility problems.
Then we have the exterior. Heavenly retro without being backward-looking and with some details from the spiritual predecessor where it fits (headlights, sliding windows). On the inside, the Microlino feels high quality and stylish. A cage construction increases safety, the wide light strips give the car its own optical character at night.
Imagine how good it would have been if the government had not only sponsored large electric cars with billions but also the microcars? In large cities, these had been practical shopping bags on wheels, easy to park and also silent and exhaust-free.
Thanks to gas springs, Microlino’s door opens much easier than the model’s, the steering column stays where it is.
So far, politicians have not understood the big thing in the small cars. However, Peter is already convinced of the Oubot family’s strategy: “The big manufacturers can not build microcars, it would never have worked in such a large-scale production. However, we are a small and fast company, it saves a huge amount of time and money and delivery times are short. . “
I drive the last kilometers and the photographer Dino also takes the opportunity to photograph the car at night. Microlino fixes just over 40 km with 36 percent charge left. The rest had to be towed by the Swiss microcar. Everyone starts small.
Source: Senaste nytt från auto motor & sport by www.mestmotor.se.
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