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It is the summer of Microcars at the California Automobile Museum! Our newest special exhibit features over 20 of the cutest and most practical cars ever made! 


 Microcars are cute and weird! The cars are sure to be attractive for that reason alone. But there is so much more to the story behind microcars; their existence, popularity, variety, and eventual decline. 

The California Automobile Museum naturally focuses on automotive history that is primarily significant to California and the United States. But special temporary exhibits like this one allow us to broaden our scope and feature other automotive topics! And this story is focused on Europe and Japan. 


(Of course, as you may already know or you will see, the legacy of the microcar is far-reaching. The eventual impact of these cars did leave a mark on California, the U.S., and the world.) 

What is a Microcar?

 There are many opinions on the definition of a microcar, but the general consensus is as follows: 

• Always: 

  • Small engine, typically under 700cc 

  • Small physical size 

  • Made after World War II 

• Often but not always: 

  • Three wheels 

  • “Bubble” or quirky styling 

  • Two-stroke engine 

• Mandatory: 

  • Designed and made with economy as primary consideration 

In this exhibit, we focused on the post-war cars that were under 700cc, or just barely over (although there are some additional cars around the 1,000cc level). 

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