"Alles Beginnt Klein" - New Microcar Exhibition at Pantheon Basel
BASEL, 24 October, 2022 - "Alles Beginnt Klein" (Everything Begins Small) is the title of a new temporary exhibition hosted by Pantheon in Basel.
The history of this type of vehicle is closely linked to Germany's post-war history, i.e. from the end of World War II to the time of the economic miracle.
Production of cars was strictly forbidden in Germany after the war. Only the occupying powers were entitled to fuel. The 1.7 million war invalids benefited from certain reliefs though. Simple wheelchairs or invalid carriages were allowed to be built in the bombed-out factory halls or intact sheds with the scarcely available materials. Fritz Fend, a former designer at Messerschmitt quickly recognized the need. When the construction of 60cc motorcycles was permitted again in 1947, the engines soon found their way into the primitive vehicles for the disabled. After the currency reform in 1948, there was suddenly better material to buy. Hardly anyone could afford real cars. The pre-war assembly lines were unusable or dismantled. The dream of a motorcycle in disguise (Kroboth even called his mobile “all-weather scooter”) became affordable. The light three-wheel vehicles, which tended to tip over, were made safer from 1955 with two closely spaced rear wheels (Heinkel or BMW). As prosperity increased, so did the demands for small but real cars with four seats and a luggage compartment. The Goggomobil from Glas, the Zündapp Janus, the extended Isetta from BMW and the Lloyd were popular. The days of hobbyists and their niche products were over. The large factories of VW, BMW, Opel or Ford began to conquer the market with cheap but half-grown vehicles and already at the beginning of the 1960s they completely ousted the scooters.
Even before the war, France and England had three- and four-wheeled microcars, which were very popular because they could be driven without a driver's license. Production for the home market was quickly resumed after the World War. Also in Austria, Italy and Spain, scooter mobiles were built in small numbers as a cheap alternative.
A number of microcars also found their way to Switzerland or were even built here - albeit without success - in modest numbers. Few copies have survived. The more common BMW Isetta, Messerschmitt and Goggomobile disappeared from the streets in the 1960s or were still used as cheap, mobile vehicles for students.
In 1976, the first microcar meeting took place at Lake Hallwil. This laid the foundation for a group of collectors and enthusiasts who collected the surviving vehicles of this class and have lovingly cared for them ever since.
More details on the museum are available: <A HREF="https://automuseums.info/switzerland/pantheon-basel-museum">HERE</A>