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A Century of
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The Revolution in Personal Transport in Europe

Origins of the Lightweight Car

Early Days 1910 to 1916

Post War Progress 1918 to 1929

Consolidation 1930 to 1939 

Rebuilding 1945 to 1955 

Diversity 1955 to 1969

Maturity 1970 to 1979  

Conformity  1980 to 1989  

Sophistication 1990 to 1999 

The Revolution in Personal Transport in Europe

A narrative with links to a relevant Wikipedia page to expand on an item of text.
What is the definition of personal transport? I think it is a means of transport that an individual has at their command at any time to travel were ever they wish. Many forms of transport have been used for that purpose throughout the ages. The horse with or without a carriage or other wheeled vehicle was the most commonly used of various animals to provide a means of transport. The boat in one form or another has been used for the same purpose on water. With the advent of railways, there have been private trains, but usually such a conveyance was for
heads of state and the fabulously rich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  From the beginning of the development of powered flight most forms of aircraft have been used for personal transport by a very small percentage of the population. The entire above has limitations in one form or another, from range of operation, area of use or predominately high cost of ownership and running costs.
When introduced the 
bicycle was a relatively low cost innovation that provided personal transport to a great number of people and still does for millions through out the world. But it still requires the use of our legs that had been used for walking, the universal form on personal travel for the majority of mankind up to that time. Although it enabled the legs to be used in more efficient manner it only had a limited range unless the rider was very fit.
The horseless carriage, electric, steam or internal combustion engine powered, added a new dimension to personal transport when introduced at the end of the nineteenth century. Initially as expensive to own and use as the horse drawn carriage, the horseless carriage was again the preserve of the rich.
The bicycle fitted with an internal combustion engine was relatively inexpensive compared to the motorcar of the period. Those early motorcycles were mechanically primitive with no gearbox and a belt drive between the engine and the rear wheel. The engines fitted to the early motorcycles were of low power.
This was usually sufficient as the poor roads and crude chassis design limited performance. The motorcycle provided transport at a cost that many could afford and was the first form of powered personal transport that a great number of young men and some times young women aspired to. The motorcycle has grown in sophistication during a century of development and the lower powered machines, the mopeds and motor scooters still provide personal transport to tens of millions of people around the world.
After the motorcycle had demonstrated its potential to provide low cost transport, enterprising designers produced machines that were almost as light but more stable, these were the motor tricycle and the motor quadricycle, in essence three and four wheeled motorcycles and along with the motorcycle of the period technically unrefined.

These were developed to provide a more comfortable form of transport and the results were the trycar's and quadricar's, These machines were devoid of bodywork but were more substantial than the tricycle and the quadricycle and reflected the advances made in motorcycle design. The solo motorcycle can accommodate the rider and often a passenger as well. This was satisfactory until the passenger wanted a more comfortable means of transport or there was more than one passenger to carry. In the first half of the twentieth century the motorcyclist could choose to fit a sidecar to his motorcycle to accommodate his passengers. In Britain this was known as a motorcycle combination and it was less expensive to purchase and use than the small cars of the day and were popular with the family man of modest means up to the 1950's. The tricycle's,quadricycle's trycar's and quadricar's were produced for about a decade straddling the turn of the nineteenth century.


The trycar and the quadricar cost about half that of the contemporary light car the voiturette’s. They proved too crude to provide an acceptable means of personal transport and soon disappeared from the motoring scene to be replaced by machines with a similar mechanical basis this time fitted with a body the cyclecar.
The voiturette’s were the first light cars and were contemporary with cycle derived machines mentioned above. At first fitted with single and twin cylinder engines marginally larger than those fitted to motorcycles and with various chassis and transmission layout but fitted with a body. Engine size and complexity grew in time as did the almost standardisation of the "System Panhard" chassis format (Front engine and rear wheel drive). By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century the voiturette had become a reliable relatively low cost practical form of personal transport for two to four persons. The cyclecars whether with three or four wheels was an ultra light car that usually owed more to motorcycle practice than the design of larger cars. Cyclecar's were produced in a progressive level of refinement for thirty years from 1910 until the beginning of the Second World War. Such famous names such as Morgan, AC the makers of renowned Cobra started out making cars classified as cyclecar's. When first defined in 1912 the classification cyclecar referred to all cars with an engine capacity of 1100 cc or under and a maximum weight of 327 Kg. but is usually associated with the less sophisticated designs in that class. Due to the low power output of the engines fitted to the vehicle types mentioned previously, a maximum of two persons was the normal capacity. Low initial cost plus low running costs were the big attraction for all of them. The cyclecar's available in 1914 ranged in price from £60 to £200 and running costs were around a penny a mile.


The more conventional of the ultra light cars, those that were miniature's of the large cars of the day and the designs that had evolved from the earlier voiturettes proved more enduring than the cyclecars providing reliable low cost transport to an increasing number of motorists for their personal use.
In the last century between nineteen fifty and the early sixties there was a revival of the cyclecar theme in form of the microcar. Again relying on motorcycle sourced engines and transmissions and some input from the aircraft industry.  The microcar provided a stepping stone from the motor cycle to the car and with advent of the minicar the latest manifestation of the ultra light car; the microcar faded away.
As the cost of owning a car fell, the various forms the ultra light car, minicars like the BMC Mini and Fiat 600, utility cars such as the Citroen 2 CV and the Renault 4, light cars such as the VW Beetle and the Kadett from Opel and many others were produced in increasing number becoming a predominant form of personal transport in Europe reducing the use of the motorcycle to young and the recreational rider by the later half of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the twenty first century the motor car as personal transport has become a world wide phenomena with the light car continuing to fulfil that role for an increasing number of people.
As the engine sizes and weight of the small car seems to increase with each new model, I have selected a cars length as its limiting factor for inclusion, and have taken four metres as that limit it being the maximum length of the supermini’s produced now in 2008. This fits in well with my perceived view of the small car without excluding any important of importance. 


Origins of the Lightweight Car

The lightweight car was a result of social and engineering advances, It was a popular development that was to give mobility to all levels of society and helped to change our world for good or ill in a way that the large expensive car could never have done. Across Europe, Japan and increasingly in Asia tens of millions of people have improved their way of life with the help of the light car. The light car has never been successful in Africa, or the Australian outback  with their undeveloped roads. Also rural North America in the first half of the twentieth century for the same reason. Rugged heavy vehicles proved superior, but were there are properly paved roads it is equal to the task of providing transport at a reasonable cost. The earliest cars were expensive and unreliable, in time reliability was improved but costs remained high. The potential of the car as a replacement for the horse and trap was becoming clear, but cost was an obstacle. A simple cost effective form of car the Voiturette was evolved to fill this roll. Usually fitted with a single cylinder engine of between 400 cc and 1000 cc.
This was at the turn of the century and by 1910 the Voiturette had matured into the light car, with multi cylinder engines, shaft drive and a chassis layout similar to the large cars of the day. These were supplemented by the cyclecars that were devised to provide inexpensive personal transport utilising motorcycle components.
The Voiturette and later the light car was at first used by the professional classes and those that needed personal transport to earn a living. But as the cost of running a light car fell, and the cyclecar matured into the ultra light car, an increasing number of people enjoyed the benefits of personal transport when previously only public transport had been available to them. It was still only a limited proportion of society that could take advantage of this freedom as running even an ultra- light car was beyond most people's means.
The types of car that we are familiar with today, the mini car the super mini and the small family cars are modern names for classes of car that have with us for almost a hundred years. The first ultra light cars with engines from 800 to 1000 cc and horsepower ratings from bhp to 7 hp, the equivalent of the mini car have been around since 1910. Cars with engines from 1000 to 1250 cc rated at 8 hp to 10 hp are comparable to the super mini and the cars with engines up to 1500 cc rated at 10 hp to 12 hp were the small family car of their day. The smaller cars usually only had two seats at first and the performance and load carrying capacity was limited on all classes of light cars.


Early Days 1910 to 1916  

Almost from the beginning of motoring history engineers have striven to produce a durable and economic to run motor car. As engines became lighter and more efficient, relatively simple versions of the current thinking on car design have been produced. First the mostly single cylinder “Voiturettes”, made from about 1898 until 1910. Using many different layouts and drive systems, from the sophisticated to the simple, manufacturers in Europe and the USA strove to evolve a practical vehicle for everyday use. From this variety the layout and drive system used by Louis Renault gained acceptance as the most practical and became the basis of most car designs for the next forty years. A front mounted engine with the gearbox in unit, a propeller shaft and a live rear axle.
Around 1910 the “Cyclecar”, came on to scene, this was the next attempt to produce an even less expensive form of motor car. The cyclecars produced during the next thirty years, were in general a mixture of engineering methods, basically a car chassis fitted with motorcycle derived components and as the Voiturettes before them, using various layouts and means of transmitting the engine power to the wheels. The term cyclecar was devised by the European motoring organisations to define all cars under 1100 cc.
By 1912 there were cyclecars on the road with the same layout as the more conventional cars of the day but with twin cylinder engines and usually two-seater bodies, these were more durable than the average run of cyclecars and were usually more expensive. Also introduced at that time were the first of the very small cars (under 1100 cc) that mimicked the form of the larger cars of the time, down to the four cylinder engine, then as now the most common. These and the superior cyclecars mentioned above, were the beginning of the line of cars that provided reliable transport at a minimum cost to millions of people since that time.
History shows that there is a minimum practical size of car and a minimum level of engineering refinement and the cyclecar and microcar were generally below that. The majority of cyclecars, those with belts and chain drives and other forms of eccentric engineering, had faded away by 1920, as did the microcar of the 1950’s go by the end of the decade. Therefore the cars in this study, I believe have provided basic motoring to the world since about 1912 and will continue for the foreseeable future.
 Since 1906 William and Benjamin Jowett of Bradford Yorkshire, has been developing a refined cyclecar and by 1910 it was ready for production. It was worth the wait as it remained in production as a car, until 1939 and as a van until 1953, undergoing continuous development. I remember seeing van’s, named the “Bradford”, on the road in the 1950’s.   The car, had a flat twin water cooled 826 cc engine with excellent low speed torque, unit construction a 3-speed gearbox shaft drive to a worm-geared back axle with a differential, weighing only 6 1/2 cwt. At first with tiller steering, wheel steering and a bevel rear axle came in 1914. This was not an isolated development, for from 1912 to 1914 there was wide range of new ultra light cars available, much later to be called “minicars” and “Supermini’s”. As well as the Jowett just mentioned, were the Swift 7, The Humberette and the Douglas in 1912. In 1913 Peugeot, Morris and AC had introduced small cars. By 1914 and coming of war, there were also new cars from Charron, Bayard and Rontiex & Cummiker in France, also Enfield, Alldays & Onions, Horstmann, Perry and Standard in Britain, and Adler in Germany. These are the first true minicars, not the Austin Seven of 1922, which was the car that revolutionised the public perception of the type in Britain. Usually fitted with a two or three seat coach built tourer body, a windscreen, acetylene lighting and a folding cape-cart hood.


A maximum speed of around 40 mph and capable of averaging 25 mph and 40 to 50 mpg, priced between £100 and £150, These cars were both practical and popular in their time. The Swift 7, made in Coventry was one example; it had a vertical twin water cooled, side valve, splash-lubricated engine of 972 cc fitted with a Eisemann magneto and a Claudel carburettor, a leather cone clutch, a three speed and reverse gate change gear box located in the centre of the chassis and a bevel rear axle. With rack and pinion steering, a tubular chassis with a separate sub frame for the engine and gearbox. The improved 1914 chassis was of channel steel with worm and sector steering, semi-elliptic springs all round, wire wheels with beaded-edge tyres, a transmission brake operated by a pedal and external contracting brakes on the back wheels using a lever. The petrol tank was mounted behind the dashboard, feeding the carburettor by gravity.
The Humberette made by the Humber Company also of Coventry was similar to the Swift in general but with a “V” twin air-cooled engine the gearbox was in unit with the engine. Some of the detail differences were drip feed lubrication for the engine using a sight glass; a transverse semi-elliptic leaf spring for the front axle and spring loaded torque rods locating the rear axle. Hand controlling levers mounted on the steering column were used for the throttle and ignition settings. The Humberette of 1914 was fitted with a water-cooled version of the “V” twin engine along with other detail improvements. Production ceased in 1915, not to be revived after the war. Another of the cars listed earlier was the Alldays “Midget” again similar to the Swift and Humberette, this time with a 1069 cc water-cooled vertical twin engine, but with a larger body. The Perry, also had a water-cooled vertical twin engine of 879 cc, It was fitted with Sankey detachable pressed steel wheels with beaded edge tyres. Another example of the cars fitted with a vertical twin engine was the Enfield Autolette, this time of 1069 cc. The vertical twin engine would not see such general use again until its use in the DKW in the 1930’s, the German minicars of the 1950’s and the Fiat Nuova 500.


The Morris Oxford, made from 1913 until 1917, had a 1013 cc, White & Poppe water-cooled “T” head four, giving it a maximum speed of 50 mph, priced at £173 for 2-seat weighting 12 1/2 cwt. It was William Morris’s first car. Made at the rate of forty a week it was of conventional layout, differing from those mentioned before only in having a four cylinder engine and a greater weight. The Douglas Company used the engine layout they had become famous for, the horizontally opposed twin, of 1070 cc, but not air-cooled as used in their motorcycles, but water-cooled. This type of engine, usually air-cooled was to become very popular with ultra light carmakers in the future, being made in the millions. The Douglas car was again of the conventional layout of front engine and rear wheel drive, costing £175, it was fitted with C.A.V. electric lighting and Riley detachable wheels. The AC light car of 1913 was fitted with a water-cooled four-cylinder engine of 1094 cc, supplied by Fivet, it weighed 10 cwt. It differed from others of the type in having a three speed gearbox integral with the rear axle, a disc transmission brake. Designed by J.Weller it had a top speed of 45 mph. From the descriptions given above an idea of the level of development of the ultra light car can be seen. Other details not mentioned was starting the engine, this was carried out using a starting handle usually permanently mounted on the front of the engine. One car not started this way was the Horstmann; it used a foot starter mechanism, consisting of a large Quick thread formed on the shaft connecting the clutch to the gearbox and a nut actuated by a pedal, this could be used from the drivers seat.


The Peugeot “Bebe” of 1913, Made in France and designed by Ettore Bugatti. Fitted with a 856 cc water cooled inline four engine, producing 10 bhp at 2,000 rpm, it had high tension magneto ignition, a 2-speed gearbox, weighing 6 3/4 cwt and a maximum speed of 35 mph. A Bugatti design feature was the reversed quarter elliptic rear springs. The cylinder block, head and crankcase was cast in one piece, and the engine had two camshafts one each side of the engine due to the “T” cylinder head configuration. Another unusual feature was the transmission that consisted of two concentric propeller shafts each driving a bevel gear in the back axle and used to provide to two gear ratios. Costing £160, reducing to £125 in 1915, the “Babe” was made until 1916, by which time 3,095 examples had been produced. By the beginning of the First World War the ultra light car was an established part of every day motoring, steadily improving in design and durability. But by 1916, due to governments orders to direct all industrial resources to the war effort, all production of small cars stopped and that is how it remained for the next three years. When production restarted again after the war, the design of the ultra light car would move on again with unimagined levels of production to meet an expanding market.

Post War Progress 1918 to 1929   

After the war there were again ultra light cars both with flat twin and Vee twin engines on the market, these were more advanced than the pre-war offerings. But by the mid 1920’s they were eclipsed by the four cylinder ultra light cars that were to revolutionise the small car scene. The Rover 8, with a 998 cc air-cooled horizontal-opposed twin cylinder engine, was one of the former, and as fitted with light roadster body, was a handy car. Another was the Wolseley 7 hp, one of the best of the type, fitted with a water-cooled flat twin engine of 938 cc. The Jowett was again on offer, continuing to evolve, at first fitted with the 815 cc engine but later to be enlarged to 907 cc. The Stoneleigh 9 hp of 1922, made by Armstrong-Siddeley the aero engine makers and normally builders of quality cars of distinction, was a very basic car with an odd three seat body, with driver sat centrally and the two passengers sat behind, fitted with an air-cooled V twin 998 cc ohv designed by Hotchkiss of Coventry for BSA which also fitted it in 1075 cc form in the Ten. The Stoneleigh had coil ignition, a three speed and reverse gearbox, a spiral bevel differential-less final drive, quarter elliptic springs all round, disc wheels and narrow section tyres. The starter was only an optional extra before 1924. With an aluminium body on a wood frame, Only 200 were made as by 1922 standards it was very crude. The BSA Ten mentioned above was made from 1921 to 1925 only in 2-seater form, In grey or blue, costing  £230. Between four and five thousand were made in that time. The Ariel Nine was another twin cylinder car made between 1922 and 1925.


Hans Ledwinka is justly famous for his "V8" rear-engined cars, the Tatra T77, T87, and the T97 with a flat four engine. His contribution to automobile progress began in 1905, when he restored the fortunes of the "Nesseldorf" company. He did this by introducing advanced designs. He left Nesseldorf in 1916, working for Steyr in Austria. Returning to "Nesseldorf" in 1921. While working at "Steyr", he had been creating the design of a small car in his own time. His design had been rejected by the "Steyr" management, but he was able to develop and produce this design on his return to the by then renamed Nesseldorf. Designated the Tatra T11 it made the name of Tatra well known throughout Europe.
In Czechoslovakia in 1922 Hans Ledwinka designed the Tatra 11. It had a horizontally opposed air cooled twin cylinder engine similar to the British cars, but there the similarity ended as the gearbox in unit was bolted to the front of a backbone chassis and the final drive to the rear and the drive taken to the back wheels by swing axles, this in conjunction with beam axle front suspension produced a revolutionary concept for it’s time and was contrary to design trends in the rest of the industry.
Hans Ledwinka 1878-1967 was born in Austria when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. By 1906 he was working for Nesseldorfer a car manufacturer in Moravia, after the break up of the empire Moravia became part of the new state of the Czechoslovak republic, the company changed its name to Tatra 1923. He left Tatra to join Steyr in Austria in 1916 then left in 1923 to work for Tatra were he designed many ground breaking cars as diverse as the type 11 of 1923 to the rear-engined type 77 of 1937, until imprisonment by the communists in 1945. He pioneered the backbone chassis frame, swing axles and the air cooled flat four engine configuration.

The T11 was the first of his designs using a backbone chassis, a fan cooled horizontally opposed engine  and a joint less independent rear axle. The engine in this design was a overhead valve 1056 cc twin, mounted in unit with the gearbox on the front of the chassis, the front beam axle being attached to the engine.
This was the first of a line of design to a similar pattern that were produced until 1948. The T11 was produced from 1923 to 1927, and replaced by the T12 with a similar specification. The T12 was produced from 1926 to 1936. In 1931 the T54, with a 1465 cc air-cooled flat four engine was introduced. It was made until 1936. Also in 1931 the T57 a 1155 cc air-cooled flat four was introduced, and through the T57A, T57B and T57K versions remained in production until 1948. The later models having a 1256 cc engine. A total of thirty eight and half thousand of these small Tatra's were made between 1923 and 1948.
The design of the light cars of the post-war period, with a few exceptions, soon conformed to a general specification that became the standard for the next twenty years, or in the case of Ford, the next thirty years. This consisted of a front mounted, water-cooled side valve, inline four cylinder engine, a plate clutch and a three speed and reverse gearbox in unit with the engine, with a propeller shaft to a live axle at the rear. With a braced channel section steel frame and semi or quarter-elliptic springing, a beam axle at the front and four wheel drum brakes. This was the format that the designers of the new ultra light cars used, and it proved so successful that by the middle of the 20’s the simpler twins had mostly disappeared.
The concept of engine position in the earliest cars is irrelevant as the passengers usually sat on top of the machinery and layout of the latter was dependent on the means of transmitting the engine power to the rear wheels. This led to compact but high cars, but due to the very limited performance was not unduly unstable. Because it made the best use of the technology of the time, the front engine rear wheel drive layout was to become standard about the turn of the century. This allowed a small reduction in height as speed increased and stability became important. For the next thirty years the front engined, rear wheel drive layout was refined resulting in a decrease in height but increasing intrusion of the machinery into the passenger space and the rear seat passengers located over the rear axle. The idea of locating the engine at the rear of the car to overcome this problem was conceived in the nineteen twenties and developed in the thirties. The layout reached a peak of popularity in the nineteen sixties, then fell out of use except for sporting cars after the rise in the popularity of the front wheel drive car. The vast majority were light cars . There were a few rear-engined cars between those first cars and the beginning of the rear engine period proper. The cyclecar era produced a notable example in the G.W.K. made in Britain between 1911 and 1930, initially by Grice, Wood and Keiller, at Maidenhead in Berkshire. The transversely mounted rear engine, in this case mounted within the wheelbase, was not the only unusual feature of the car. Throughout their years of production G.W.K cars were always fitted with a friction drive transmission, utilising a friction disk that moved across the face of the flywheel to produce different reduction ratios from 4 to 1 in top to 14 to 1 as the lowest gear. The rest of the car was conventional for it's day. The engine fitted was a 1069 cc water-cooled Coventry Climax unit; it weighed 9.5-cwt and cost £150. Production between 1918 and 1930 was not great with nearly 200 examples of various types made.

While G.W.K were struggling on in Britain, Hanomag in Germany produced the "2/10ps Kommissbrot", The latter being a popular name given to the car and referring to a loaf of bread. Made from 1924 to 1928 in which time 15,800 examples were produced. It's single cylinder water cooled engine of 500 cc was mounted at the rear with three speed gearbox and a chain final drive in an oil bath to the solid rear axle. A two seat car with a 40 mph maximum speed, in most respects it was late example of the cyclecar.
Peugeot in France had produced the Babe before the war with its unusual transmission. Now named the Quadrilette, and fitted with a 694 cc, later 855 cc engine it was again available in 1921.
The following year other French manufacturers entered the field, Andre Citroen with his Type C 5 c.v. and the Renault 6 c.v. This was soon followed by Austin in England with the Seven also in 1922 and the Humber 8-18 hp of 1923. As the decade progressed others produced new cars, some to become famous, others to be in time forgotten. The Citroen 5 c.v. had a maximum speed of 38 mph, and 80,00 were sold by 1926. Fitted with a water-cooled by thermal-siphon, side valve four in line engine, of 856 cc, with coil ignition, a three speed and reverse gearbox, a spiral bevel final drive and with quarter-elliptic springs all round attached to a channel section chassis frame. Michelin disc wheels were standard, with low pressure tyres in 1924. The weight of the car was 952 pounds and it was priced in England in 1922 at £195.
The Renault 6 CV. of 1922 had a four-cylinder inline 951 cc side-valve engine that produced 15 bhp. water-cooled by thermal-siphon with a detachable head, HT magneto and starting by Dynomotor, also a three speed and  reverse gear box, spiral bevel final drive, Springing was by two half- elliptic springs at the front, one transverse at rear. weighting 1512 pounds, and a maximum speed of 45 mph. Front wheels brakes by cable after 1925. It was conventional car of the period, with a feature of all Renaults at that time; the radiator was behind the engine. It was made until 1929.

The Austin Seven was a major milestone in the history of low cost motoring and set the standard for other small cars to meet for the next ten years, remaining in production in Great Britain for seventeen years. It was also made in Germany under licence by Dixi, the company later taken over by BMW. Licence production also took place in France by Roengart and By Austin America in the USA, although this venture by Herbert Austin the founder and chief engineer of the company was not a success.
After a disappointing period commercially after the First World War, due the cars on offer, Herbert Austin against the advice of colleagues designed the Seven at home, to be offered as a substitute for the Motor cycle combinations and cycle cars then available to the public. It was as compact as a combination and as light at 7 cwt as a cyclecar but with all the technical features of a full size car including four wheel braking, electric lighting and starting. Initially there were concerns weather the four cylinder high speed engine would be reliable and it’s small size usable, but the public soon took to the car which over the years evolved with minor improvements to keeps it competitive finally going out of production in 1939. When production started in 1923 an Austin Seven cost £225 but by 1930 was down to £125, inline with other small cars. Capable of 50 mph and 50 miles to the gallon, and able to carry four people in some models, it proved to be a very economic, reliable, durable car that also lent itself to tuning and introducing a new section of the population to sporting motoring, but that’s another story. Introduced in the same year as the Austin Seven, the Humber 8-18 h.p. with a 982 cc side-valve engine were well made, but twice the price of the Austin, being more a light car than an ultra light car.
Other light cars of the period with a four cylinder side valve engine were the Ariel Ten of 1924, which had the gearbox in unit with the rear axle and only two wheel brakes, as did the Nine from the same stable.
The Clyno Nine of 1927, with a 950 cc engine and a simpler specification and the 832 cc Triumph Super Seven, which was unusual for an ultra light car in 1927, in having hydraulic, brakes and balloon tyres. As well as these side valve cars there were more advanced and more expensive cars on the market, The Talbot-Darracq Of 1922, designed by L. Coatalen, with a high-efficiency overhead valve four-cylinder engine of 970 cc, In a elaborately equipped chassis. The Riley 9 of 1926 also had an advanced overhead valve 1087 cc engine, using two high camshafts and was built to a high standard, the Nine forming the basis for Riley touring and sports cars for the next ten years. The Fiat 509 had an overhead camshaft engine of 998 cc, more of which were to be introduced in this size of car in the next few years. The Rhode 9.5 hp made in Britain from 1921 to 1924, used a single overhead camshaft engine made by them, driving through Wrigley gearboxes, with at first differential-less back axles. Another British car with the same engine configuration was the 848 cc Singer “Junior” of 1926. Singer used a single overhead camshaft layout in its engine until taken over by the Rootes Group.
The first version of the Morris Minor of 1928, also had an overhead camshaft engine, four cylinder version of the unit used in the Wolesley Hornet, Wolseley by then part of the Morris empire. Although the engines of these cars were advanced, the remainder of their specifications reflected the current conventions of the day. It was William Morris’s answer to the Austin Seven and although thirty nine thousand were made during the life of this model, it didn’t prove as popular as the simpler Seven. Initially fitted with cable brake operation, by 1932 a hydraulic system was fitted. 

The 1920’s were years of experiment, with finally the production of a small number of specialist front wheel drive cars, sports and luxury, all relatively costly. The 1930’s saw these joined by front wheel drive cars at the other end of the price range.
In Britain BSA made 10,000 of a varied range of three and four wheeled car from 1929 to 1940. The first inexpensive front wheel drive vehicle to reach the British market, the BSA “Three Wheeler Twin”, although not mass produced, was made in large numbers compared with it’s predecessors and could not have been more different. A three wheeled cyclecar, as ultra light cars were then described. The specification in many respects was normal, being similar in layout to the “Morgan” three wheeler. With two wheels at the front and one wheel at the rear and a 1021 c.c. Vee twin-cylinder air-cooled engine was mounted in front. A simple channel-section chassis that was formed in the rear with a large-diameter central tube; the single rear wheel was mounted on a hinged arm having as an extension a leaf spring that was enclosed within the central chassis tube. The major difference was the transmission that was similar in layout to the Alvis 12/75 including the inboard drum brakes, with the engine behind the gearbox which was behind the final drive unit. Four quarter elliptic springs each side were used for the independent front suspension.  In 1933 a four-cylinder engine version of the three and four-wheeled car was added to the range. With a 1075 cc. side-valve water-cooled engine in place of the twin being the only major change.
In Germany DKW started making their series of cars prefixed “F”, making over 200,000 by 1939., With a water cooled two cylinder two stroke engine, in unit with the three speed gearbox and final drive all transversely mounted, driving the front wheels through universally jointed half shafts, the DKW F1-500 owed nothing to convention and was years ahead of it’s time. The 584 cc engine produced 161⁄2 bhp at 3500 rpm, enough to attain a speed of 50 mph and fuel consumption of 50 mpg. Not everything about the DKW was advanced, the wood and fabric full four-seat body was quite large and heavy and the car weighed 141⁄2 cwt over double the weight of the Austin Seven.
The company, DKW was founded by Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen, a Danish engineer. The initials DKW came from an unsuccessful venture, a steam powered vehicle, in German Dampt Kraft Wagon. Fortunately the company became successful as motorcycle manufacturers, with a factory at Zschopen in the German region of Saxony. Between 1919 and 1930 the company made an assortment of rear wheel drive cyclecars and lightcars. The first front wheel drive car from DKW, the FA, later to be called the F-1, was introduced in 1931. It was an ultra lightweight car, weighing only 450 kg. It had a water-cooled 2 cylinder 2 stroke engine, mounted transversely in the chassis, with the 3- speed gearbox in front and the final drive assembly in front of that between the front wheels. Twin transverse 1⁄2 elliptic springs were used at the front and the rear of the steel ladder chassis for the all independent suspension. With 15 bhp from the engine a maximum speed of 75 kph was attained.  It was made in roadster, cabriolet and saloon form.
Despite the introduction of more advanced engines, the side valve engine was still widely used and would continued to be in general use until the late forties. The Humber 9-28 of 1929 used a side valve engine and the rest of the car also followed the conventions of the day, as did the La Licorne 5 CV from France. During the 1920’s the ultra-light car had become established, providing both reliable and durable transport at a reasonable cost, bringing motoring to an ever-increasing section of the community. As production increased using mass production methods the cost of car ownership continued to fall, this reached an all time low in the next decade.
From 1928 onwards, the idea of a people's car with a rear mounted air-cooled engine, all independent springing and a backbone frame was promoted in Germany by a journalist Josef Ganz. He had an experimental car with a forked backbone frame made by Ardie and Adler in 1930. Limited experiments in front wheel drive and rear engine layouts had been carried out, but the need for a more complex means of transmitting the power to the driven wheels than the almost universally used live axle was the stumbling block.
The simplest alternative to the live axle was the swing axle. The swing axle had been used by Hans Ludwinka at Tatra since the early nineteen twenties and Ludwinka was to become one of the pioneers of rear engine cars. The Tatra swing axle didn't use flexible joints but a system of bevel gears that allowed each drive shaft to move independently. The flexible coupling commonly in use at the time was the fabric coupling it had a limited degree of deflection and working life and was not suitable for use with swing axles. The availability of better flexible couplings of the Hardy Spicer type made it possible to develop a reliable swing axle transmission. The combination of the rear mounted engine with swing axle transmission proved to be the simplest way to remove the engine and the transmission from the passenger space and lower the overall height of the car

Consolidation 1930 to 1939

The 1930’s are not remembered for advances in small car design, more for the spread of mass production techniques and continuing reductions in new car prices, reaching an all time low of £100 for a while in 1932. Evolution rather than revolution being the watchword of the decade, with a steady improvement in the details of design and methods of manufacture, leading to improved engine efficiency, higher performance and durability.
The water-cooled side-valve inline four cylinder engine was dominant, along with the simple pressed steel channel chassis frame, mounted on a beam axle at the front and a live axle at the rear, sprung with leaf springs. Predominately mechanically operated drum brakes on all four wheels, with wood and fabric or coach-built bodies, later in the decade pressed steel became the standard. There were a few exceptions to this formula, a small number of manufacturers fitted overhead valve or overhead camshaft engines. Of all the makers using two cylinder engines in the 1920’s, only those from Jowett, DKW and Tatra were now available, the Tatra going out of production by 1936, the others in continually developed form remaining in production until the second world war. The Jowett of the early 1930’s , was the 7 HP.  An evolved version of the original 1910 car. Tatra began production of a 1155 cc O.H.V. air-cooled flat four engined car in 1931, the Tatra 57. The 57 was otherwise similar in layout to to the Tatra 12 twin cylinder cars. The various versions of the 57 were produced until 1948.
The Austin Seven was so successful in Europe in its various forms, that Herbert Austin decided to introduce it to the USA. So in 1930 the American Austin  was born, basically an Austin Seven adapted to American tastes and made in  Butler Pennsylvania. Unfortunately very small cars were not to American taste and that combined with the onset of the depression, the American Austin didn't flourish, less than 20,000 being made in total before the company went under in 1935.
Also in 1931, the original overhead camshaft engined Morris Minor was supplemented by a side-valve version also of 847 cc, originally available as an open two-seater priced at £100. By 1932 all the Minor body types were available, but not at that price and by the following year the overhead camshaft engine was dropped, all but the basic model being fitted with a synchromesh gearbox, hydraulic brakes and dampers. Far from Europe, the fledgling Japanese motor industry was beginning to make practical motorcars and one of these was the Datsun Type 10 of 1932. A conventional car with a 747 cc, 4-cylinder side valve engine, often mistaken as a copy of the Austin Seven, evolving through successive model and in production until the second world war. Another of the cars introduced in 1932 was the Fiat 508 Balilla,  again fitted with a side-valve engine, this time of 995 cc, with hydraulic brakes and a cruciform chassis the only distinguishing features, it remained in production until 1937 and was made under licence by Simca in France and NSU in Germany. In Britain, the Singer Nine 9 HP replaced the Junior 8 HP and the Triumph Super Nine replaced the Super Seven. BSA introduced a four wheeled version of their three wheeled car the FW32, using the Hotchkiss “V" twin as used in the Ten of 1921. They only sold a hundred, and it was only worth mentioning because it was an early British front wheel drive ultra-light car, with independent front suspension by four transverse 1/2 elliptic springs, inboard front brakes, a three gearbox in front of the engine, finally the worm and spur gear final drive at the front and a dead rear axle suspended on four 1/4 elliptic springs. It only lasted a year. The big motoring event of 1932, was the introduction of the Ford Model Y. Ford’s answer to the Austin Seven and the Morris Minor, a new direction for the company that had up until then only sold first American then British built cars originally designed for the American market.
The Model Y design was an evolved version of the model T chassis, with the same layout of transverse 1/2 elliptic springs front and rear, but with less than half the engine capacity of, previous models and the rest of the American designed car reduced in proportion.
Being a simple well developed car, made using all the latest mass production methods, at a good price it was an immediate success. With a simple and reliable water-cooled, side-valve 933 cc inline four cylinder engine, cable operated four wheel brakes, a simple channel steel chassis and a stylish all steel body, it represented current design philosophy. By the time the ultimate version of the Model Y concept went out of production, the Popular of 1959, it was an anachronism.  Another car in that mould, was the Standard Little Nine to be followed by the Nine in 1934. In 1933 BSA replaced the FW32 with the T9. Another development on the front wheel drive theme, the twin cylinder engine was replaced by a water-cooled, side-valve, inline four mounted in the same place, nearest the cabin. The other change was to fit 1/2 elliptic springs on the rear axle. The three wheeled cars were dropped after 1936, the “Scout” series of cars being available from 1935 to 1940, being the last BSA cars. Three hundred were made in it's year of production.
 Continuing on the front wheel drive story, Adler of Frankfurt on Main, Germany, started by making bicycles in 1880, later typewriters and commenced car production in 1900. The first of their front wheel drive cars, the Trumpf, was designed by the company technical director of the time, Rohr. This was in 1932. As well as front wheel drive, the car had other advanced features, The body was electrically welded to the box section chassis, making it a near monocoque. All independent suspension using torsion bars and rack and pinion steering. The layout of the power train was similar to the Tracta and the Alvis, with the final drive at the front, with the four-speed gearbox next and then the engine. This resulted in a long bonnet, which fortunately was still fashionable at the time. Tracta joints were used in the outboard end of the transmission.
The car was light for its time, being just over a thousand kilos in 4-seat saloon form. The engine and the brakes were as most other cars of that date, the engine being a side-valve, four, of 1500 cc to 1700 cc producing 38 bhp to 40 bhp, and the brakes were mechanically operated. The Trumpf-Junior, a smaller version of the Trumpf, also designed by Rohr, with a 995 cc engine,and was produced from 1934.  with the same engine, gearbox, final-drive layout as the Trumpf, in a chassis independently sprung on all wheels, using torsion bars at the rear, with rack and pinion steering. The rest of the specification was normal for the time, a water-cooled inline four, side-valve engine and cable operated Bendix drum brakes. Although fairly unconventional for it's time, the car was a success   Both cars were available in five body styles. By 1941 when all Adler car production ceased not only for the duration of the war but for ever as It was not to resume after the war, just over twenty five thousand Trumpf's and almost one hundred and three thousand Trumpt-Juniors had been made.
Ferdinand Porsche was born in Maffersdorf in Northern Bohemia now part of Czech Republic, the son of a tinsmith. His first automobile designs were for Lohner of Vienna in 1899. He went on to design for Austro-Daimler 1906-23, Then Daimler-MotorenAG, later Daimler-Benz, 1923- 29. Followed by Steyr, in Austria in 1929. Later in 1929 he set up his own design office in Stuttgart, He and his team designed many outstanding cars there before moving to Gmund in Austria in 1944 to escape Allied bombing. After a troubled period at the end of the war, he again returned to Stuttgart, the home of Porsche cars. Although he was actively involved in motorcar design for over fifty years, only one of his light car designs reached series production. He was fortunate to see many of his heavy luxury, sports and racing cars designs reached production. But getting a light car produced, sporting or economy was a struggle.
While at Austro-Daimler in the early nineteen twenties, he designed an 1100 cc sports car. Hoping that it would form the basis of a wider range of cars, but he was not supported by board of directors of Austro-Daimler. A handful of cars were produced and given the name "Sascha", in honour of Count Shascha Kolowrat who underwrote the venture. The "Sascha's", proved very successful in motor sports events throughout Europe.
I have found a reference to a one-litre small car that Porsche designed while he was at Daimler-Benz, in a book by Richard von Frankenberg. This was in 1928, and thirty test samples were constructed but the project wasn't taken any further and none have survived.
By 1931 Ferdinand Porsche had set up his own design bureau in Stuttgart, Germany and began to create designs for the German motor industry.  The Porsche design bureau was staffed by engineers that Porsche had gathered together  over a period of thirty years. They were Karl Rabe his chief engineer, Erwin Komenda in charge of body designer, Kales in charge of engine design, Mickl, he was responsible for aerodynamics and Hruska. His son Ferry Porsche was also part of the team and would take over from his father after the Second World War.
One project that Porsche and his team started to work on was for a small economy car, but unlike the other work they had it had not been commissioned but was something Porsche wanted to do. It was numbered type 12. This was in September 1931. The design that unfolded had features that would become familiar in later years, a backbone frame, a rear engine, all independent suspension and a beetle shaped body. During the period when rear engines cars were produced in millions and one case tens of millions, the engine was usually located outside the wheelbase. The engine design was unconventional for a car, a three cylinder air-cooled radial. This arrangement was often used in light aircraft. In 1932 the German motorcycle manufacturer Zundapp made enquires about a small car design that they wished to put in production. The type 12 was revised to meet Zundapp's requirements. A five cylinder water-cooled engine replaced the three cylinder unit. Prototypes of the car that was to be called the "Zundapp Volksauto", were produced and road tested, but the car didn't go into series production due to Zundapp's inability to finance the venture.
In 1933 Porsche was approached by NSU another German motorcycle manufacturer, for a small car design. This time is was for a slightly larger car. The design, Porsche type number 32, that was finalised utilised a flat four cylinder air-cooled engine of 1400 cc. Torsion bar springs were used for the trailing arm front and swing axle rear suspension. Three prototypes were made, and had been tested, before NSU had to abandon the idea due to contract agreements made previously with Fiat, not to re-enter car manufacturer. 
The idea of creating a small car of advanced design for the people of Germany seem to be doomed, until Porsche submitted a proposal on the development of such a car to the Transport department of the German government. This was in January 1934. He managed to get the chancellor a certain Herr Hitler, interested in the idea. He added the proviso that it be produced for one thousand Marks (£45). This led to a lot of hard work by the Porsche bureau, before the car then called the "KdF Wagen", and known to us as the Volkswagen was a reality. The car was similar to the "NSU Volksauto",  but slightly smaller and with a 985 cc engine. Thirty prototype Volkswagen cars were completed in 1937, the series 30, and used for extensive road testing. In 1938 another sixty prototype Volkswagens, the series 60, were completed for more testing.
J.A.Gregoire is one of the great pioneers of the front wheel drive car. He contributed to the development of front wheel drive vehicles. By designing,developing and promoting a constant velocity joint in each front wheel hub, by using an enclosed double universal joint. This idea was developed to become the “Tracta Joint”. The promotion and licensed use of the “Tracta Joint” became the primary purpose of the Societe Anonymedes Automobiles Tracta after 1932.
 The “Tracta  joint”, was until manufacturing techniques had progressed sufficiently to allow the the successful manufacture of the constant velocity joints commonly in use today was the preferred choice  of most manufactures of vehicles that had driven front wheels. Tracta joints were used by many of the pioneers of front wheel drive, including DKW  between 1929 and 1936 and Adler from 1932 to 1939 as well as the cars designed by J A Gregoire that will be mentioned later. The Tracta joint was fitted to most of the military vehicles that had driven front wheels used by most of the combatants in the Second World War. They included Laffly and Panhard in France, Alvis and Daimler in the UK and Willy in the USA that used the joint in a quarter of a million Jeeps and many others. This was to continue after the war, The first Land Rover being so fitted. It would be almost thirty years before versions of the "Rzappa joint" were used successfully in mass-produced cars.
Meanwhile advanced chassis design was not considered necessary in Britain. This was the case with the Wolseley Nine,   except that it had hydraulic brakes. A single overhead camshaft engine was fitted, similar in design to those fitted in other Wolseley cars of the time, this in conjunction with a four speed synchromesh gearbox, all for the price of £179. The Nine was replaced by the similar Wasp in 1935. 1935 saw only one completely new model, the Morris 8, a totally conventional car that appeared to take its inspiration from the Ford 8. It was a hit with the car buying public and over 200,00 were sold before being replaced in 1938. The 918 cc engine first used in the 8 was to remain in production until 1953 and used in the post war Morris Minor, long after it should have been retired.
The first prototype of the Tatra Type V570 designed by Erich Ledwinka, the son of Tatra's chief engineer Hans Ledwinka was produced in 1931,a member of his fathers design team at Tatra, he designed their first rear engined car.  Although this prototype had a body of conventional form, the inspiration for the rear engined Tatra came from the idea of taking full advantage of the streamlined forms proposed by the aerodynamicist Paul Jarey. By locating the engine in the long tail, a low hood or bonnet line could be achieved. It had a platform chassis and the air-cooled flat twin engine of 845 cc; gearbox and final drive was located at its rear. Swing axles were again used to take the drive to the rear wheels. The first prototype made had a fairly crude body fitted, but the second prototype, shown at the 1933 Prague Motor Show had a streamlined body designed to conform to the ideas of Paul Jaray. Unfortunately it didn't reach production. This had more to do with the priorities of the Tatra management that any outside influences. Tatra chose not to produce economy cars with the rear engine layout, but to reserve that layout for limited production luxury and family size cars.
The Hansa was one of the range of car produced by the Borgward group. The 1100 was typical of German thinking in 1934, with all round independent suspension, using transverse half elliptic leaf springs at the front and swing axles at the rear with torsion bars. Also a tubular backbone frame and a water-cooled inline four cylinder engine with overhead valve-gear. This advanced specification was completed by hydraulic brakes. It did not have a high performance, but was said to handle well. Engineers in Czechoslovakia also used advanced chassis designs, this is not surprising since a Czech, Hans Ludwinka developed most of the ideas then in vogue in central Europe. He never worked for Skoda but they incorporated many of those ideas in the 420 of 1934. With a forked backbone chassis and all independent suspension using transverse leaf springs at the front and swing axles at the rear. It had a 995 cc side-valve, water-cooled inline four and a three speed gearbox.
The DKW  F5 was an updated version of the F2 of 1933-34, that had evolved from F1 of 1928. After the first revolutionary step of producing the FA, the F series of cars that followed evolved, with changes introduced as the model numbers progressed. The F-2 a 584 cc engined version of the F-1 was introduced in 1933, with a little more power and a little more speed. An engine capacity of 584 cc was available until 1938. The F-4 of 1934 saw the spur gear drive between the engine and gearbox replaced with a chain. The F-5 also of 1934 had major engine changes using the Schnuerle deflectorless-piston loop scavenge system, which made an important contribution to efficient two-stroke engine operation. The rear suspension was changed to a dead axle and a transverse leaf spring. The F-5 was also available with 684 cc engine. The F-7 had the front suspension changed to one leaf spring and wishbones. The F-8 Introduced in 1938 was an updated version of the existing DKW model the F7. That had a revised chassis frame incorporating rack and pinion steering and an engine of 589 cc. In 1939 a 692 cc engine was fitted in some models and was made until 1942.  The specification was the same throughout, but the design refined with each new model, this continued until 1939. The last model before the Second World War was the F-9. It was completely new model with a 900 cc two stroke engine mounted fore and aft in front of the final drive unit. It had streamlined all steel body, and a top speed of 68 MPH. The advent of the Second World War deferred its introduction. 
The Austin 7 Ruby, an updated version  to replace the original Seven, was on sale from 1935 to the end of the Seven production in 1939. As the Seven was a major advance when introduced,the Fiat 500, was also a major advance, making the Seven seem obsolete. Designed by Dante Giacosa and Franco Fessia, It was a two-seater and had a 569 cc side valve engine, but the chassis with independent front suspension using a transverse leaf spring and wishbones and neat packaging was a big advance, with the engine located over the front wheels and radiator behind it over the four speed synchromesh gearbox, also excellent hydraulic brakes.
With fuel consumption around 50 mpg and a maximum speed of 55 mph, but with handling good enough to allow average speeds of 40 mph. Between 1936 when first introduced until the end of production in 1948, 122,000  were made of this original version. It was also made in France by Simca and in Germany by NSU. Other cars that made an appearance in 1936, were The Opel P4, the Singer Bantam, and the American Bantam, the last two were not related.
The Opel P4 was the product of the German branch of General Motors, and as such reflected  American body styling. The mechanics of the car were conventional, unlike the German cars mentioned previously with a water-cooled, inline four, side-valve engine in a cart sprung chassis, ( beam axles and half elliptic springs) driving the rear wheels. The Singer Bantam was an update of the earlier Nine, first with the 972 cc Nine engine, then with a 1074 cc version, still with a single overhead camshaft. The small Singers were a bit of mixture, with the Junior Special and the 9 HP IFS with independent suspension with coil springs, but by 1936 only beam axles and cart springs were on offer and by 1939, hydraulic brakes had given way to mechanical operation. It was price before refinement. The American Bantam was the reborn American Austin after that company had failed in 1935, it was again a re-bodied Austin Seven with minor engineering modifications, but it only lasted until 1941. The companies great claim to  fame was that it designed and produced the first Jeep, before production was taken over by others. By 1937 the small Jowett was the BHP, still with the flat twin side-valve engine, but chassis and body had kept up with its British contemporaries with hydraulic dampers and in the last year of  production, 1940 synchromesh.  The last remaining British link with the cyclecar era was with the three wheeled Morgan.
The Fiat 508C was not an update of the Balilla but with a overhead valve engine, independent front suspension, a X braced chassis, a four speed gearbox and a flowing body capable of 70 mph plus, a modern car that remained in production after the second world war. Also introduced in 1937 was the Opel Kadett, basically a P4 with a new body and detail improvements. In Austria the Steyr concern was not averse to technical innovation and their offering in the one litre class the 50 was no exception, with independent suspension all round and a sleek but not pretty all steel unitary body-chassis unit. With a 978 cc, side-valve flat-four engine, despite the low drag body , it was only capable of 60 mph. By contrast, in Britain Austin offered the Big 7, an updated Seven Ruby, with a 900 cc version of the Seven engine. This was in production in 1938 and 1939, when it was replaced by the Austin 8, this also had a 900 cc side-valve engine but it was completely new design as was the rest of the car. The chassis was conventional 1930’s British, with beam axles, 1/2 elliptic springs, a ladder frame and mechanical brakes. The tourer version of this car has a place in my motoring memory, although I cannot remember seeing one on the road. Between 1939 and 1944, the tourer was produced for the British army, and was I suppose Britain's “Jeep”, until the real thing came along. I saw the tourer on munitions trains, mixed in with tanks and guns, steaming  past the park I used to play in. Although in drab khaki, with its low form, cut-out doors and modern styling, being one of the last cars introduced before the war stopped most car production, it was a revelation compared with almost all black saloons to be seen on the roads then. The four door saloon model only was again was produced after the war, with a total of over fifty six thousand being made by time it was replaced in 1947.
 All the following new models reviewed here were to re-emerge after the war and remain in production until 1948 and in the case of the Skoda  Popular 1100, to soldier on until 1964, in form  of the 440, and Octavia. The Popular 1100 was an updated 420 with a 1089 cc engine. The Morris Eight series E  was as the name indicates the latest version on the Eight. The major change was the new body with flowing lines and the introduction of a four speed gearbox. Renault’s entry into the small car class the Juvaquatre, was a mixture of ancient and modern, with a side-valve engine, mechanical brakes, a three speed gearbox and a cart sprung rear axle, the modern part was the unitary body-chassis and independent front suspension. 
The Ford Anglia, was an evolved Model Y (8) with a new body. In contrast to the Ford, the Standard Flying Eight, was completely new, but the transverse leaf independent suspension and a synchromesh gearbox were the only concessions  to modernity. With a long stroke side-valve, water-cooled inline four cylinder engine, only three speed in that gearbox  and Bendix brakes.
As the Volkswagen was being developed, a factory for its production was being built.  First produced with a 985 cc air cooled flat four engine, the car was developed and ready for production by 1938. Production started at the purpose built factory at Wolfsburg in 1939. But only two hundred and ten examples were made before the factor went over to war production. 
At the beginning of the  war in 1939, the production of cars in Europe for the general public was suspended, and only those that could obtain a petrol ration could run their cars for the duration of the war and for some time afterwards. Many cars were destroyed in the war, others were worn out and others were laid up until private motoring was again possible.
During the war many engineers used what spare time they had to devise new concepts and designs, Post war all that pent up creative energy would be let loose.
Rebuilding 1945 to 1955

At the end of the Second World War the European motor industry was in disarray, with factories destroyed, or severely rundown or machine tools stolen. By 1945 where the pre-war tooling was available, production was restarted using it, therefore producing virtually pre-war designs. That didn't matter at the time, as there was an insatiable demand for cars not only in Europe but also throughout the world. In Britain, Ford made the pre-war 7Y 8 hp with some body changes until 1953, and renamed it the “Anglia EO4A” then the “E494A” with 1172 cc versions being available until 1959.. Morris made the Eight series “E” and Wolseley the "Eight", a series "E" with an ohv engine and some panel changes, until 1948.  Austin the “Eight” until 1947 and Standard the “Eight” until 1948. The perennial Jowett twin the 7 HP was produced in estate car and van form as the “Bradford” until 1953. In France, Renault began production with the Juvaquatre until 1948, Fiat in Italy recommenced with the “500” changing to the “500B” in 1948, replacing the side valve engine for one with overhead valves and an extra 3 bhp, and the “508C” being revived as the “1100”., and Lancia also in Italy recommenced production of the Ardea. The Ardea had been introduced immediately before the start of the war, and very few had been made before production was suspended, not that very many were made by the time production finally stopped in 1949. It was a relatively high cost small car, constructed to the then usual high standard expected of a Lancia. With many design features similar to the better known Aprilia, such as a pillarless unitary body-chassis unit, sliding pillar IFS, and a overhead camshaft, narrow angle Vee four engine, in the case of the Ardea of 903 cc, that produced 29 bhp. The Ardea was not advanced in all aspects, it had a gravity feed fuel tank and it's four speed, gearbox was without synchromesh, and unlike the other Lancia’s of the time, it had a live rear axle and cart springs.
Pre-war designs available in Czechoslovakia were the Skoda 1101 that was produced until 1954, and the Aero A30 until 1946. The Germany motor industry has suffered more than any of the others, with division and destruction, but at Volkswagen at Wolsfsburg, 713 cars were assembled from existing components for use by the British forces by the end of 1945, The Volkswagen plant was under the control of the British Occupation authorities until September 1949 and by then almost twenty one thousand cars had been produced, now with a 1131 cc engine. Also the exporting of Volkswagens had begun. Other German factories took a little longer to get going.
All the cars mentioned above except the Volkswagen were of up till then of conventional layout, with the engine in the front and rear wheel drive with the exception of the Skoda a live rear axle. All the British cars except the Standard also had a beam front axle, with leaf springs and cast iron side valve engines being universal.
The next decade would see a divergence in design philosophy with Germany consolidating on it's advanced designs, France producing a variety of new designs and the rest grudgingly making concessions to forward thinking. During the war years a team at Renault had been working on a totally new car design as had engineers at Morris in Britain. But unlike their British counterparts, the Renault engineers were then able to put their new design in to production without concessions to existing tooling, the whole car being radically different to any previous Renault. Louis Renault, the founder of the company had ordered it's development, but after the liberation of France, he was expelled from company that was nationalised. Louis Renault was pioneer of motoring who constructed his first car in a garden shed in 1898,at his parent’s home at Billancourt, near Paris. His company that he ruled in an autocratic manner prospered becoming one of the great car makers in France. During the Second World War when France was occupied by German forces, his factories were under German direction and he produced trucks for the German forces. His main preoccupation at that time was not freedom or France, but the preservation of his factories ready to resume producing cars when the war was over. To that end in 1941 he had his staff with Edmond Serre as head of project design, design a new car and produce a prototype.
Fernand Picard, Serre's deputy, played the leading roll in design of the car. The car that emerged was unlike any previous Renault model but externally bore a passing resemblance to the Volkswagen prototype that had been revealed to the world before the war. But the car had a specification completely different to the Volkswagen with the exception of rear engine location. The 4 cv differed in many ways from the Volkswagen, first it had a unitary chassis, and it had a water-cooled inline four-cylinder overhead valve engine of 760 cc  mounted at the rear behind a three- speed gearbox with final drive by swing axles. Wishbones were used for the independent front suspension with coil springs used all round and rack  and pinion steering. With Lockheed hydraulic brakes,it was a state of the art design. Although the engine only produced 19 BHP, it was almost unburstable. The performance was modest with a maximum speed of 57 mph (92 kph). Later prototypes also had their own distinctive body that would become well known in time.
Louis Renault had made many enemies during his years of autocratic rule and having been seen to co-operate with the German invaders only compounded his crimes to his enemies. At the end of the war he did not live to see his new car go into production, because his countrymen imprisoned him. Dying in mysterious circumstances, his assets and his factories were seized by the state. Regie Renault was founded in 1946 using the Renaults factories. It operated as a private company but owned by the state, similar to Volkswagen after 1948. The state appointed Pierre Lefaucheux as president of the new company and he soon prepared the 4 cv for production, showing the car first at the Paris Salon in October 1946 and production started the following year. The new head of the company Lefaucheux decreed a one- model policy and that was the 4 CV. By 1950 production was up to four hundred a day.
 The 4 CV were what France needed at that time, a compact economic up to date design and it was in production by 1946. Because it was of rear- engined layout and Professor Porsche had been had been asked to pass comment on the design, at times the design has been attributed to him, but that is not true. Over a million examples were made before it was phased out in 1961.
The Renault engineers were not the only ones in France creating new designs. At Citroen engineers led by Andre Lefebvre had been working since 1938 on their replacement for the pony and trap of the French countryside, the car that became the 2 CV. Apart from the aim of providing inexpensive motoring, the 2 CV and could not be more different in concept and layout from the 4 CV, with a twin cylinder air cooled engine of only 375 cc, mounted in the very front of a platform chassis, driving the front wheels. The all-independent inter-linked suspension was conceived to cope with terrible French country roads of the time and to be driven across country if required. The body was larger than that of the 4 CV and had what would be termed today a flexible layout with a fold back roof, and removable doors and hammock type seat. The 2 CV was durable and formed the basis for several other Citroen models and almost four million made, was itself developed in detail over the forty two years it was in production, with the engine size finally enlarged to 602 cc.
Yet another French designer had been at work during the war, namely J.A.Gregoire who designed the Aluminium Franchise Gregoire as a freelance design to promote his ideas and the use of aluminium in car construction. During the Second World War he secretly worked with his design team at his works at Asnieres . Being a pioneer of front wheel drive, Gregoire again used it, with a 594 cc, twin cylinder air cooled engine extensively using aluminium, and the overdrive gearbox ahead of the front wheels. The chassis was constructed around alpax castings. All independent suspension completed a light and spacious package  It had a chassis-body frame of light alloy, front wheel drive, an air-cooled flat twin engine and independent suspension on all wheels. A four-seat car weighting only 880 pounds, it could make 60 mph and 70 mpg. This design was to form the basis of the 1950 "Dyna" Panhard.
 The design never went into production in the form that Gregoire had conceived it, despite selling the design to Henry J. Kaiser the American industrialist, but was produced in much altered form by Panhard as the “Dyna-Panhard” in France. The unitary chassis was originally also in aluminium, but no castings were used. Later versions used a steel shell. A torsion beam rear suspension replaced the IRS of the Gregoire design, an early example of a design feature that has become popular during recent years.
The only cars of less than one litre, produced in Czechoslovakia after 1946, was the Aero Minor, made from 1946 until 1951. The Aero Minor was a modernised version of the pre-war, DKW based Jawa Minor, with a water-cooled two-stroke twin of 615 cc, driving the front wheels, a backbone chassis, hydraulic brakes, and all independent suspension.
The first new small car from the British motor industry was the Morris Minor, it was designed towards the end of the end of the Second World War, in the Cowley works of Morris Motors and was the work of Alex Issigonis. He had been developing his ideas on independent suspension and unitary chassis-body construction, which was not then in general use, and when he was allowed to design a completely new car he incorporated his idea's in to it. The Minor front suspension was of the wishbone type, using a lever type shock absorber operating arm as the top link, a pair of steel pressings as a lower link with a torsion bar attached to their inner end.
Torsion bars had been chosen as the layout used gave lots of room for a proposed flat four engine that didn't make it to the final design. A forged upright connected these links and had the steering arm and the stub axle attached. An unusual method was used for steering pivots in the form of screw trunnions top and bottom, similar to a nut and bolt arrangement. The final component a steel tie rod that linked the bottom of the upright forward to the chassis, versions of the latter component were used in various Issigonis designs, and was used on the Mini until production ceased in 2000. The Minor was in production by 1948 and due to it's front suspension, rack and pinion steering which was another departure from current practice, and a forward weight distribution it's handling was a great step forward. The engine, gearbox, transmission and rear axle fitted in the final design were those used in the Morris Eight series E, and were of pre war design, this turned a potentially great car into merely a good car. It was not until after the Morris and Austin merger that a engine of modern design was fitted to the Minor in 1953.
Front wheel drive car production had stopped by 1941 when the last Adler Trumpf-Juniors was produced. It took time after peace came to restart production in the factories that were in a condition to do so, but Citroen had the Traction Avant back in production in 1945. BSA Group in Britain and Hotchkiss in France had decided not to restore production of their front wheel drive models and Adler in Germany chose not to make any cars at all. Auto Union, the group that had made Audi and DKW cars had lost their factories with the division of Germany and were unable to produce anything for the time being.
At the end of the war, the Audi and DKW plant at Zwickau in eastern Germany, was in the Russian zone of occupied Germany, later to be the DDR. All the tooling and drawings of the pre-war DKW production cars and prototypes were at the plant. The East German authorities therefore found themselves in a good position to produce cars to DKW design again once they had rebuilt the factory destroyed in the war. A car named the IFA F-8 was produced there from 1948 until 1955 after only 26,254 examples had been made. The new model that DKW had ready for production in 1939, the F9 was shown at the Leipzig Show in 1948, as the IFA, F9. Produced from 1950 until 1956, almost forty one thousand were produced, after 1953 in the former BMW factory at Eisenach.  After 1956 and new body, the F9 reappeared as the Wartburg 311. With various body changes but the same mechanical layout and two-stroke engine,  The Wartburg  was manufactured until 1988.
Panhard were the first to offer a new front wheel drive model after the war, in 1946. In the new DDR (East Germany) a new company I.F.A. was set up to produce cars in the factory in Zwickau that had produced DKW cars before the war and restarted production by 1948. The next year saw the first SAAB the 92 and the first Citroen 2 CV on the road.
The Auto Union management had re-established itself in Dusseldorf in the West German republic and DKW cars were in production by 1950. Also in that year Hotchkiss produced another front wheel drive Gregoire design. The only new front wheel drive cars in Britain were 11 CV Citroen's assembled at Slough.
The "Dyna" was the Panhard version of the Gregoire designed "Aluminium Francais-Gregoire" mentioned previously. J.A. Gregoire sold drawings of the A.F.G. to Henry J. Kaiser in the United States, and to Hartnett in Australia, but neither took it any further and submitted prototypes to Simca and Panhard in France. The Dyna Panhard, was based on the A.F.C, but Panhard made many changes to the design while retaining the principle features of the Gregoire design. First produced in 1946, with a 610 cc engine that produced 25 bhp, weighed 1052 lb. and could reach 60 mph.
In 1950 the engine size was increased to 750 cc producing 33 bhp and a top speed has risen to 71 mph despite a weight increase of 220 lb.. By 1954 an 850 cc engine was standardised on all models.
Also that year the original Gregoire devised chassis that had been made for Panhard by Faecal Methanol was replaced in a new model, the Dyna 54, but it was still constructed of aluminium, as was the body. The Dyna 54 was a six-seat car and could reach 80 mph, on 42 bhp. In 1957 the aluminium construction was replaced by steel with an increase in weight of 440 lb.. The Dyna 54 was replaced by the PL17 in 1959, the most prolific model, with one hundred and thirty thousand examples produced by 1964.
The last of the breed the 24CT, which was the last Panhard car produced was a 2+2 coupe made from 1963 until 1967. Citroen had taken over the company in 1957 and from 1967 Panhard only produced armoured cars. Despite it's advanced layout the Dyna had not been properly developed and was expensive to produce never reaching mass popularity.

Citroen had started work on the 2 CV in 1938 and had  300 prototypes running in France before the country was occupied by the Germans during the Second World War. It took until 1948 before the car was first shown to the public at the Paris Show. Citroens aim was to provide rural France with a car that would replace the horse and trap, as Henry Ford had done for America with his model T thirty years before. To carry up to four people at speeds up to 40 MPH along French country roads in a car that needed a minimum of maintenance at minimum cost, required an exceptional design and the 2 CV was that. Every part of it was new from the power train to the basic almost crude body. Initially the air-cooled flat twin engine was of only 375 cc producing 9 bhp. It was at the front of a platform chassis, with the drive going to the front wheels with at first, simple universal joints at both ends of the drive shafts. This didn't matter at first due to the low performance and the need to keep the cost down. The pictures also show the unique suspension devised to deal with those country roads. Long travel leading arms at the front, were linked to long travel trailing arm at the rear by rods that operated on coil springs located at the side of the chassis. Suspension movement at the front was transmitted to the spring and then to the rear by the linkage, leading to a smother ride. To make the car as usable for it's designed purpose, the body was very simple with most components removable to provide access and space as required.    The 2 CV at first glance could be taken for a crude car but looks are deceiving and where it mattered everything was produced to a high standard, with hydraulic brakes, inboard at the front and rack and pinion steering. The engine was increased to 424 cc in 1954 and later 602 cc, but performance wasn't what the 2 CV had been designed for, it was as a work horse. Total production was 3,872,583 of 2 CV's alone by 1990, not counting the models derived from it.

By 1944 sixty five percent of the plant at Wolfsburg, specially built to produce the Volkswagen had been destroyed by allied bombing. The tooling used to manufacture the Volkswagen saloon had been removed from the site and the remains of the factory was being used to produce Volkswagen based military vehicles and other war materials. The first allied troops to reach Wolfsburg at the end of the war were Americans. They were soon replaced by British troops as Wolfsburg was in the region designated as the British zone of occupation. The Volkswagen factory was listed for disposal for war reparations but none of the motor manufacturers of the allied countries wanted it or the Volkswagen, having little regard for the car. The British army engineers thought otherwise having grown to respect the military Volkswagen’s they had encountered during the war years. As the Volkswagen plant was the only car plant in the British zone of occupation and vehicles were urgently needed, the tools to manufacture the Volkswagen saloon were returned to the plant, repairs to the building were stepped up.
The factory was at a standstill and chaos rained in the area. With the active support of Volkswagen workers the British army soon put the remains of the factory and its workers to work repairing and servicing its vehicles. As all kinds of vehicles were in short supply, the British forces and the Volkswagen workers gathered together any Volkswagen components that had remained when production had stopped civilian or military types. They began the assembly of whatever vehicles that could be made from them, for use by the occupying forces and civilian authorities. They were so successful that in 1945 the six thousand plus then employed at the plant produced seven hundred and thirteen vehicles.
The production of the car was resumed, this time with the 1131 cc engine that had been developed for the military models in 1941. During 1946 almost ten thousand cars were produced and the following year almost nine thousand. Some of the latter were exported to nearby European countries. In January 1948 the occupation authorities appointed Dr Heinz Nordhoff as director of the plant. With production and exports rising, at last cars were supplies to the people the car was originally designed for, the German motorists at large.

All the principle engineers involved in the development of the rear engined cars were imprisoned at some time at the end of the Second World War. Ferdinand Porsche was detained by the French authorities for a couple of years, without any charges against him. This effectively removing him from working on future projects, but his son Ferry filled his place at the head of the Porsche design team. Hans Ludwinka was also imprisoned, in his case by the Czechoslovakian authorities for his involvement with war production for the Germans. He lost all his assets and the rights to all his patents.
The pre-war management of Auto Union set up in business in Ingolstadt, West Germany after the war, at first making spare parts for the remaining DKW cars produced before the war. But by 1950, began producing new a DKW car in the form of the F-89 New Meisterklasse. It was made in Dusseldorf also in West German. Based on the pre-war F-8 the car they produced was the DKW F-89, a combination of the body and rear suspension of the pre-war F9, and a modified version of pre-war F8 chassis. but with the 684 cc engine moved ahead of the front wheels in a new chassis and clothed by the body designed for the F9. Between 1931 and 1955 around 300,000 transverse engined DKW or IFA cars from the FA to the F-89 had been made, and many others were made under license. By 1954 when production of the F89 ceased 59,475 had been made.
It took another three years before DKW could get their version of the F9 in to production as the F-91 Sonderklasse. The F-91 evolved into the F-93 then the Auto Union 1000, with a larger engine. Four hundred thousand examples of this design were produced from 1953 to 1963. By then the F-9 layout was established as the standard at AUTO UNION and later, when owned by Volkswagen the name was changed to AUDI.
In 1949 Fiat replaced the 500B after 21,000 examples had been produced, with the 500C. The difference was a new body of up to date design, still a two-seater. With the improved engine that had come with 500B, maximum speed was now at 60 mph, and 55 mpg could be obtained at a steady 50 mph . 376,000 were made before production ceased in January 1955. There was also an estate car version, the Belvadere, made from 1954.
SAAB was and is a Swedish aircraft manufacturer. In the early nineteen forties they felt that with only one customer, the Swedish government they were very vulnerable. Their solution was to diversify, to manufacture cars. Before the Second World War Sweden only had one motor manufacturer Volvo and most cars were imported. Until the flow of imports stopped due to the war, DKW cars were becoming increasingly popular in Sweden, so SAAB decided to design and produce a car similar in principle to the DKW but incorporating the latest design thinking, aerodynamics of the aircraft industry with mechanical simplicity of the pre-war DkW cars. The first car the "92", designed by two Swedish engineers Gunnar Ljungstrom designed the car while Sixten Sason designed the body. They produced the stunning form of the  prototype in 1947. Having limited manufacturing capabilities Ljungstrom opted for a twin-cylinder two-stroke engine, located in front of the front wheels, transversely with the gearbox in line and the final drive behind, using the minimum space inside the wheelbase, which could then be utilised for passenger space. (This was the layout used in the Trabant, produced by IFA in the DDR for thirty plus years). The car had a low drag unitary chassis/body, rack and pinion steering and all independent suspension with torsion bar springs. The mechanical components being similar to the  DKW F8, with some differences, the engine being of 746 cc, the three speed gearbox having synchromesh with column change and a mechanical fuel pump was fitted, 9-inch hydraulic drum brakes and a freewheel completed the changes. A maximum speed of 65 mph was attained with the slippery body, but unfortunately it was too extreme for everyday use, and after suitable modifications the Saab 92 went into production in 1949 after extensive testing.  Just over twenty thousand SAAB 92’s were produced in six years when discontinued in 1956 after the introduction of the SAAB 93 in 1955. This had a similar layout to the DKW F9, also with a three cylinder two-stroke engine.
When Austin designed the new 803 cc engine for their A30 model of 1951, no one could foresee that one of it's many version would still be in production in 1999 and around twelve million examples made before it was finally discontinued. Designated the "A", the smallest in a series of new engines  introduced by the company after the war, . the A30 was a miniature and cramped version of the family saloons of the time, complete with four doors and a boot, although only 17 inches longer than a Mini, a two door and an estate version came later. The specification of the car was also similar to it's larger contemporaries, with coil spring i.f.s. and a live rear axle with half elliptic springs. A first for Austin, it had a unitary chassis. The A30 was replaced by the A35 an updated version with a 948 cc engine in 1956.
In 1953 Ford of Britain introduced the new 100E Anglia and Prefect models. They had been producing their first car of post 1930's design the Consul since 1950. The 100E models followed the Consul's lead, with a unitary chassis and MacPherson strut independent front suspension, a live axle with half-elliptic springs and hydraulic brakes. But when it came to the engine and gearbox a revised version of the old 1172 cc. side valve unit with the three speed gearbox was used, not a new O.H.V. unit as was fitted to the Consul. Just to show their lack of interest in modern design, Ford also had on offer the Popular 103E. This was just a revised 1948 Anglia with an 1172 cc engine, and therefore a direct descendent of the Model Y of 1932. Even so, Ford managed to sell over one hundred and fifty five thousand of these cars by 1959 when the old Ford beam axle and transverse leaf spring concept was finally laid to rest. The Anglia and Prefect 100E,s lasted until 1959, to be replaced by a new Anglia model, and the Popular 100E. This was produced until 1962 and over half a million 100E,s of all types had been made.
The Standard Motor Company in England reintroduced a small car into their range with the Eight, in 1953. The Eight, was an all new car of conventional design. The chassis/body unit was of unitary construction with four doors, and at first a none-opening boot. With coil spring I.F.S. and a live axle with half-elliptic springs, an 803 cc. O.H.V. water-cooled four-cylinder engine that gave it a top speed barely past 60 M.P.H. In 1954 the Eight was joined by the Ten, the same basic car fitted with a 948 cc engined version and an opening boot lid. An up graded version of the Ten, the Pennant, joined them in 1957. But by 1961 all the small Standard models had been discontinued, after three hundred and fifty thousand examples of all types had been made. As would the larger model in a couple of years as the company was to use the other name it owned Triumph, exclusively.
1953 was the beginning of a period with a glut of new models, and amongst them was the Lancia Appia. Of classic Lancia design with a unitary chassis/body, sliding pillar I.F.S. and a narrow angle V four engine of 1089 cc. Like all Lancia cars of the period, it was a high quality, refined car at a relatively high price. Although in production in series I . II and III form until 1963, only ninety nine thousand examples where produced. Another new model from an Italian manufacturer in the same year was the Fiat 1100-103. This model perpetuated the name Millecento first given to the 508C. This Millicento was a compact unitary construction saloon fitted with wishbones and coil springs at the front and a live axle and half-elliptic springs at the rear. Its excellent handling and good performance was in the tradition of its predecessor. of conventional design for its period, with a water-cooled O.H.V. inline four-cylinder engine of 1089 cc, that at first produced 33 B.H.P. rising to 44 B.H.P. but much more when tuned. Features that would unfamiliar to us today were the steering column change for the four-speed gearbox, and the transmission hand brake. Through a series of models culminating with the 1100R, (The 1100D had a 1221 cc engine.) the Millicento was in production until 1970 and one and three quarter million examples had been produced.
The Fiat 600 was Dante Giacosa's replacement for the Topolino. The last version of the 500C had been discontinued the previous year 1954. The 600 was a totally new car, and for Fiat a new layout with the engine at the rear as well as unitary construction. When the 600 were introduced in 1955, rear engine cars had been produced for well over a decade and their advantages and disadvantages were by then well known. Giacosa used the advantages to produce a four-seat car, although with limited luggage space, that had a reasonable performance from an engine of only 633 cc, due to its low weight of eleven and one half hundredweight and also compact dimensions. Capable of almost 60 MPH and returning a fuel consumption of 45 to 55 miles per gallon and the ability to cruise at 50 MPH. He overcame the stability problems associated with other rear engined design's by identifying that the problem was not the weight distribution of the cars, but the simple swing axle rear suspension used in those designs. His answer was to use a semi- trailing arm type of rear suspension, that eliminated the large change in the camber of the rear wheels that inherent with the simple swing axle suspension system.
The mini people carrier may seem to be a concept of the twenty-first century, that is not so. Within a year of the launch of the 600 a six-seat version was in production, the Multipla. By replacing the transverse leaf spring used in the front suspension by upper links and coil springs, the mechanic components of the 600 were utilised in a forward control unitary body with zero crumple zone and only a small increase in wheelbase to accommodate three rows of seats. Over seventy six thousand of this first version of the Multipla were produced by 1963.
The 600 was replaced by the 600D in 1960. The engine size was increased to 767 cc, with a maximum speed up to 70 MPH. Production ceased in Turin in 1970, but carried on in the Seat factory in Barcelona. Before then the 600 had been produced by NSU/Fiat in Germany, Zastava in Yugoslavia and Concord in Argentina. Over two and a half million were eventually produced.
Diversity 1955 to 1969

The Renault Dauphine of 1956 was mechanically similar to the 4 CV but with a 845 cc engine. The elegant body/chassis unit was all new and larger than the 4 CV. The model was in production for twelve years and over two million examples were produced.
Giacosa's next rear engine car for Fiat was the Nuova 500 of 1957, with a similar layout to the 600, but with a two-cylinder air-cooled engine instead of the water-cooled inline four-cylinder unit. Being a two/plus/two-seat car, it was the true replacement for the "Topolino", at the bottom of the Fiat range. With a wheelbase fractionally over six feet and a length under nine feet, it was also a lightweight weighing less than five hundred kilos. The 479 cc engines in the early production cars were so under powered with only 13 BHP that they were recalled and an up rated engine that produced 16.5 BHP was fitted.
The Vespa 400 was the Italian Piaggio companies only mini car. It was a two seat car with 393 cc two-stroke air-cooled twin cylinder engine giving it a maximum speed of 55 MPH. Thirty four thousand were made in the Piaggio factory in France from 1957 until 1961, BMW had been making the Isetta micro car since 1955. In 1957 they introduced a compact four-seat, four wheeled mini car based on the Isetta. A 582 cc version of their well known air-cooled flat twin engine that was located at the rear of the car. The BMW 600 shared with the Isetta the distinction of having a door at the very front of the car.  Almost thirty five thousand BMW 600's were produced by the time it was superseded by the BMW 700 in 1959. The 700 was a development of the design of the 600. The engine size was increased to 697 cc, but the biggest change was the fitting of a new body designed by Michelotti. Production continued until 1965 and a total of 188,121 examples of all type were produced. An unusual feature of these cars, was the Dubonnet independent front suspension system used on the cars, probably the last time it was used in any design.

The first NSU designed car to go into production since 1928 the Prinz was a rear engined mini car with a 583 cc transverse inline air-cooled twin cylinder engine producing 20 BHP. An unusual feature of the engine was the Ultramax eccentric strap drive for the overhead camshaft. The unitary construction chassis was independently sprung with wishbones at the front and swing axles at the rear all with coil springs. The Prinz was produced from 1958 until 1962 and almost ninety five thousand were made. A pretty little coupe version the Sports Prinz was produced from 1959 to 1967. The engine was tuned to produce 30 BHP and it had a top speed of 76 MPH.
At the end of the nineteen fifties, front wheel drive had become almost conventional. Citroen and Panhard in France DKW/AUTO UNION in Germany, Wartburg in the DDR and SAAB in Sweden were producing cars exclusively of this type.  The preferred layout being with the engine inline, ahead of the front wheels, with the exception of the Citroen DS19 that had the engine behind. The transverse engine layout had almost gone out of favour, with only the Trabant made for a captive market in the DDR and a small number of ultra light cars, latter day cyclecars, made by Berkeley in the UK.  DKW produced a prototype Junior in 1957. A 700 cc twin cylinder engine was specified, but when the Junior reached production in 1959 it had a 741 cc three cylinder engine in an inline layout. It was a small version of the F91. The F91 had evolved through the F93 with a slightly larger engine, to become the Auto Union 1000, now with a 980 cc engine. The Junior which increased in overall size and engine capacity to 890 cc as the F102, was made from 1963 until 1965.
The configuration that had been almost the standard for sixty year, that is a front engine and gearbox driving a live axle at the rear was not yet dead in small cars. Austin in Britain began producing the A40 in 1958 the year before introducing the Mini that accelerated the acceptance of front wheel drive. The only advance in the A40 was the use of a two box body form. A modest 342,000 were produced in nine years.
A front wheel drive version of the Morris Minor was built but not developed in 1951/2. With a transverse engine with the gearbox inline and equal length drive shafts with an intermediate jack shaft to extend one of the shafts. It wasn't developed for production. The British Motor Corporation decided to produce a new small car and the design work started in March 1957 Alex Issigonis who had designed the Minor, returned to the front wheel drive layout for this new design. The aim was to produce a very compact car with maximum space utilisation. To achieve this Issigonis decided to fit the engine transversely in the car, with the gearbox located in the engine sump. With the final drive unit gear driven from the gearbox it could be located centrally. This allowed equal length drive shafts to be used, without the need for an added jack shaft. The component that made the design acceptable to Alex Issigonis was the Birfield-Rzeppa constant velocity joints made by Hardy Spicer, fitted at the outer end of the drive shafts. Early Mini's had flexible rubber drive couplings at the inboard end of the drive shafts. Later manual gearbox models had offset sphere type joints. While Auto-box and Cooper S models had universal joints and sliding joint shafts.  Other features of the Mini design were rubber springs and ten-inch wheels. Prototypes were running on the road in October 1957 and production started in 1959. It was first marketed as the Austin Seven and the Morris Mini-Minor and it wasn't until 1962 that the name was changed to Mini, after popular usage.
Alex Issigonis was born of Greek parents in Smyrna, now Izmar in Turkey. His father had become a naturalised British subject when living in Britain before Alex was born. He returned to Smyrna to run the family engineering business on the death of his father in 1900. Smyrna had a large Greek population at that time. They left Turkey with the population exchanges in 1922. Alex came to England with his mother in 1923 shortly before his father's death. He studied engineering at Battersea polytechnic.
His first job with a motor manufacturer was in the Humber drawing office in 1933. He worked for Humber in Coventry until 1936 when he moved to Morris Motors at Cowley near Oxford. He left Morris for Alvis after Morris merged with Austin to form the British Motor Corporation in 1952. The work he did at Alvis didn't see production and he returned to work BMC at Longbridge in 1956. He retired from the then British Leyland Motor Corporation in 1971. The first complete car that Issigonis designed, rather than components for someone else's project was the Lightweight Special. He and a friend constructed it in his home garage using only hand tools. As John Bolster wrote in his book, "Specials", "The Lightweight Special", is one of the most amazing specials ever constructed". The chassis was a monocoque made using aluminium/plywood sandwich panels. It was strong but lightweight. The wishbone front suspension and swing axle rear suspension were unique to the car and had rubber springs. Ultra lightweight Electron wheels and hubs were another unique feature.
A supercharged 750 cc Austin Seven Ulster engine, was fitted at first and used in competitions with great success. This was replaced after the war with an experimental O.H.C engine made by one of the Nuffield companies (the owners of Morris). This engine is in the car today and the car is still used for hill-climb competitions. Issigonis specialised in suspension design at Morris Motors, in the 1930's after developing his idea's at Humber. He designed the independent front suspension and rack and pinion steering for a new 1250 cc saloon that was ready for production in 1939. But it wasn't produced until 1947, due to the war. Then made at Abingdon as the MG Y type. That suspension design was used again on the MG TD and all MG's up to and including the MGB.  His next design for a complete car was for his employers Morris Motors. This was the Morris Minor. Work started on the design in 1944 and production of the car started in 1948. With the constraints of having to utilise an existing design of engine, gearbox and rear axle, he produced a car that was popular and enduring. With a modern design of engine fitted, but not of Issigonis design the Minor remained in production until 1972 and almost one and a half million examples were produced.
He left the recently formed British Motor Corporation for Alvis 1n 1952, working on the design for a large car that wasn't produced. He returned the BMC and at the beginning of 1957 commenced work on the design of the Mini. The BMC Mini needs no introduction. In production for forty years from 1959 to 1999 with over five million examples made. It set the trend for packaging that has transformed the small that is still going on. That is the Issigonis legacy. The novel features of the Mini have not survived the test of time. Small wheels have not found favour and later Mini's had larger wheels. The idea of the gearbox in the sump and rubber springs disappeared with the last Mini produced. The BMC 1100/1300 range of cars designed by Issigonis, came with many different badges. Austin, Morris, MG, Riley, Wolesley and Vanden Plas, all part of the British Motor Corporation. It was a larger example of Mini packaging. With a body designed by Pinin Farina. This time Issigonis linked the rubber springs front and rear with hydraulic lines to form an advanced suspension system. Otherwise the running gear was the same. It proved a popular car, with a wide range of appointments or performance. One and a quarter million examples were produced between 1962 and 1974. The last light car to bear the Issigonis stamp, was the Austin Maxi, made from 1969 to 1981. Originally fitted with a 1485 cc version of the BMC "E4", Single overhead camshaft engine, the Maxi was an even larger version of the Mini theme and just as efficient. With a five-door body, I'm sure designed by an engineer like the Mini and not a stylist. It had a cable operated five-speed gearbox at first, which was unpopular and "Hydrolastic" spring as used in the 1100/1300 cars.
The car was never developed to it's full potential and less than half a million examples were produced. The year before the launch of the Maxi, BMC had merges with Leyland to form BLMC. Alex Issigonis didn't fit in with the new organisation and at the age of 65 he retired. He was willing to try new ideas, sometimes they were a success and at others not. Ether way he contributed a great deal to light car design. All great men have to have support and Issigonis had amongst others, Jack Daniels at his right hand throughout his creative years.
I have mentioned the most significant front wheel drive and rear engined small cars of the nineteen fifties in the previous pages, but there were also important cars produced using the front engine rear wheel drive layout during that time.
In Czechoslovakia the Skoda 440 had evolved into the Octavia, with improved front suspension using coil springs but retaining the backbone chassis and swing axle final drive. Almost a quarter of a million were produced between 1959 and 1964.
A new car was produced in Britain in 1959 with a backbone chassis and a swing axle rear wheel drive. The Triumph Herald was in one way a step back for Standard-Triumph. They had previously produced cars with unitary chassis/bodies, but due to being unable to find a supplier of these had to resort to a  chassis and a body bolted together from seven separate pressings. This allowed the Michelotti designed body to have a one piece lift up front. As well as allowing the Herald to be produced in more than the then usual range of body forms, it also enabled it to be the basis for a range of models including the Spitfire sports car. These were the final examples of the backbone chassis in mass produced cars but it would be used in sports cars in Britain by TVR and Lotus.
In the late nineteen fifties across the world giants of the future were stirring. The Japanese motor industry was just beginning transform itself from a local affair to eventual world status. Mazda, Mitsubishi and Subaru were still producing micro cars and Honda had yet to produce a car. In the small car sector Toyota introduced the first of the Corona models the ST10 in 1957. It had a 995 cc at the engine front and rear wheel drive. This was followed by the Corona PT in 1960. The Corona went on to be a great success for Toyota with 5.6 million made by 1984. Nissan produced the first of what would become the Bluebird models, the Datsun 310 in 1959. The 310 was fitted with a four cylinder engine of 1189 cc at the front driving the rear wheels, a three speed gearbox, wishbone and coil spring front suspension and a live rear axle with leaf springs. The 310 was replaced by the 410 model in 1963.
Also of conventional layout was the Daihatsu Compagno, fitted with a inline four cylinder  of 797 cc and introduced in 1963. One Japanese manufacturer that has since given up car production to concentrate on trucks was following the newer trends. Hino had been  manufacturing the Renault 4 CV under licence since 1953 and in 1961 began producing the Contessa with a 893 cc engine  located at the rear driving the rear wheels. The company was taken over by Toyota in 1966.
The first car bearing the name Subaru the 360, was introduced in 1958. It had a twin cylinder two-stroke engine 0f 360 cc located at the rear. Only six hundred and four were produced that year, but the rate of production had reached over twenty two thousand in 1961. This model later with a larger engine was in production for fourteen years.
The Italian stylist Frua created for Renault the body design for Floride coupe and cabriolet that was introduced in 1959. Based on the mechanical components of the Dauphine, its impact was more visual than technical. Even so it was produced for almost ten years and one hundred and seventeen thousand examples were produced. By the end of the nineteen fifties the rear engined small cars were beginning to dominate the European market. The innovative front wheel drive BMC Mini had arrived, but it would be another decade before the rear engined car would go into decline. In 1960 Fiat introduced the "Gardinera", a 499 cc station wagon with a similar inline twin cylinder engine as the "500", but with cylinders horizontal. The engine was located under the floor at the rear of the car. With a slight increase in wheelbase and the weight increased to five hundred and seventy kilos, it was never a four seat car, with a luggage area over the engine. In parallel with the Fiat models, the "500", platforms were clothed in prettier bodies by Autobianchi at their Desio factory. Named the Bianchina, a convertible, later a convertible, a four seat saloon, an estate car and a van version on the Gardinera platform were produced. A version of the Nuova 500 was made by Steyr-Puch in Austria in 1957, with their own flat-twin air-cooled engine and swing axle drive and suspension. The Steyr 650TR of 1965 to 1969, was the hottest 500 model made and a competent rally car.
By 1960 a rear-engined car was in production in the Ukraine. The Zaporozhets ZAZ965 was a two-door saloon with a 748 cc, later a 887 cc air-cooled Vee four engine in a unitary chassis and independent suspension with torsion bars at the front and coil springs at the rear.  It was replaced by the ZAZ966 with a new body form and a 1196 cc engine in 1967. A later version the ZAZ968 was produced until 1990.           
Simca produced their first rear engined car the 1000 in 1961. The chassis design of the 1000 was  similar to the rear engined Fiat of the period and was fitted with heavy engine already in use in the Simca Aronde. It was in production until 1978  with a couple of increases in engine size. One point six million saloons and estate cars were produced. The NSU Prinz 4 was revised with a new body and many other improvements . Five hundred and seventy thousand were produced between 1961 and 1973.
In 1961 Citroen introduced the Ami 6. The 2 CV platform was fitted with a 602 cc 22 bhp engine and a odd four door body. It was produced until 1971 and over a million examples were produced.
Renault abandoned their rear engined small car policy when they introduced the R3 and R4 in 1961. The engine/transmission layout of the 4 CV, with the gearbox ahead of the inline engine, was located in the front of a practical hatchback unitary chassis, with the necessary changes to the drive shafts and transmission joints. The long forgotten R3 had a 603 cc engine and the R4 a 747 cc or 845 cc engine. Over eight million R4's were made by 1992 when production ceased. Renault didn't convert fully to the front wheel drive concept until the 1970's.

The next Issigonis design the 1100, was introduced in 1962. At first badged as a Morris but Austin and other brands were later available. Using a 1098 cc version of BMC's "A" series engine in an installation the same as the mini. Rubber springs were again used but this time interconnected hydraulically. A system that was fitted to Mini's for a while. The chassis/body unit, styled by Pinin Farina was much roomier than the Mini.
In 1962, Ford of Germany introduced their first front wheel drive car the 12M . It had a 1.2 litre V4 engine ahead of the front wheels. This engine was later used in the Saab 96. Lancia's next new car also had front wheel drive. The Fulvia was first produced in 1963. The 1100 cc narrow angle "V" double overhead camshaft four engine was mounted inline ahead of the final drive and four speed gearbox. The suspension was similar to the Flavia. The last of the two-stroke DKW/Auto union cars the F102 was first produced in 1964. With a 1175 cc three cylinder engine mounted in usual DKW manner. Diversity of drive train configuration was still a feature of front wheel drive cars of this period, this was to change in the years to come.
There was an interesting newcomer to the to the light car world from Holland in the form of the DAF 750. Its air cooled flat twin engine mounted at the front was not unusual for the time, but the drive to the rear wheels was. It consisted of a variable ratio belt drive controlled by the depression in the engines inlet manifold, this ensured an optimum engine performance. Starting in 1961 the DAF went through various models with the twin cylinder engine, rising from an initial 600 cc to 750 cc in the 33 to 844 cc in the 44.  From 1967 until 1972 a version with a Renault four cylinder engine of 1108 cc the 55 was also produced . Well over half a million of these unique cars were produced by 1973 when the type was discontinued.
Ford of Britain was another maker that was to cling on to that configuration in the Anglia 105E. The significant feature of the 105E was its new engine that finally replaced the side valve unit used by Ford since the introduction of the Model Y in 1932. This model was only produced for eight years and just over a million produced, but the 105E engine went on to a long and distinguished career.
Dante Giacosa's first front wheel drive car was the Autobianchi Primula. Autobianchi was a subsidiary of Fiat. Ready for production in 1964, it had a four cylinder water-cooled engine of 1221 cc that was already fitted in the Fiat 1100D. The rest of the car was of all new design. The engine was transversely mounted with the four-speed gearbox located inline with the crankshaft. With a gear train to the offset differential and final drive and unequal length drive shafts. This is the arrangement which was to become the dominant layout for most front wheel drive cars in the future. Other features of the design are not so familiar, such as the gear change on the steering column, also the wishbone and transverse leaf spring front suspension and the dead rear axle with half-elliptic springs. The steering was by rack and pinion, a first for Giacosa, but almost twenty years after it's first use by Issigonis. The Primula was eventually dropped in 1970, with 74,858 cars built.  In 1965, the DKW 102 became the Audi Heron. The two-stroke engine being replaced by a four-stroke four from Daimler-Benz the new owners.
 Standard Triumph's first front wheel drive car the 1300 of 1965, had a unique power train layout. The four cylinder inline engine was mounted fore and aft over the front wheels with the gearbox and final drive located underneath, but not in the engine sump as in the mini but in a separate enclosure.  The 1300 was produced until 1970 and the 1500 that replaced it was in production until 1973, but only just over two hundred thousand examples were produced in that time when Triumph abandoned front wheel drive. The only other front wheel drive Triumph was a Honda designed car the "Acclaim", made by the British Layland Motor Corporation from 1981 to 1984.
Peugeot joined the ranks of front wheel drive car makers with the 204. This was in 1965. The 204 had a 1130 cc four cylinder inline engine mounted transversely in front of the gearbox and final drive. It had equal length drive shafts, With McPherson strut front suspension. It was in production from 1965 to 1977, with 1.6 million examples produced.
The Japanese company Mikasa produced a series of small front wheel drive cars fitted with an air cooled twin cylinder engine, from 1957 to 1961, but the first significant Japanese front wheel drive car was the Subaru FF-1. Introduced in 1966 the FF-1 was the first in a long line of Subaru models that continues to this day, with a water cooled flat four engine mounted ahead of the front wheels. Originally fitted with a 977 cc engine, this was increased to 1088 cc and then 1267 cc by 1970. The FF-1 was superseded by the Leone in 1971.
Toyota made the first of the Publica /1000/Starlet models in 1961, with twin and four cylinder engines from 697 cc to 1000 cc in a front engine/rear wheel drive chassis. 1962 saw the introduction of the Mazda Carol, Mitsubishi Minica and Colt,  . all micro cars with twin cylinder engine, otherwise of conventional layout. also the Suzuki Sunlight, a  of front wheel drive cars with two stroke engines. it was replaced in 1967 with the Front 360, that was produced in various forms until  the late 1970’s. 
The first of the Sunny series from Nissan was the B10 was introduced in 1965 . A 988 cc water cooled inline four cylinder engine was mounted in the front of the chassis driving a live rear axle.
Honda also introduced their first front wheel drive car in 1966 the N360. It was fitted with a transversely mounted air cooled O.H.C four stroke parallel twin cylinder engine. Honda had extensive experience of this type of engine in their motorcycles. Other versions were the N400, N500, and N600. that had engine sizes to match the name. Over 1.1 million examples had been produced by 1971 when the "N" series cars were replaced.
Although the front wheel drive had made great progress in the 1960’s, the rear engined car was still alive and kicking.
Renault had produced their first front wheel drive car the R4 in 1961, went on the the produce the R8 in 1962, with a 956 cc rear mounted engine with swing axle final drive in a very box like body. This was followed by the R10 in 1967 a development of the R8 with 1108 cc engine. These were the last mainstream Renault rear engined design’s and were produced until 1971 when a combined total of almost two million examples were made.
The Hillman Imp was the only rear engined car produced in Britain, by the Rootes Group. Introduced in 1963, 440,032 examples of all versions where made before production ceased in 1976. It had a 875 cc single overhead camshaft aluminium engine, and was manufactured in Scotland. Poor industrial relations and quality control limited its popularity. The Imp was almost unique in having a swing axle front suspension. The rear suspension was similar to the Fiat rear engined cars, having semi-trailing swing axles.
NSU began production of the “1000”, in 1964, a larger version of Prinz 4 format and shape with a 996 cc engine. The following year the “110”, and “1200”, were introduced with 1085 cc and 1177 cc engines respectively. half a million examples of all these larger cars were produced by 1973 when all NSU rear engined car production stopped.
Fiat’s next rear engined car the “850”, was introduced in 1964 to compliment the existing “500”, and “600”, models. With a similar specification to the “600”,, a 843 cc engine and new body form. One and three quarter examples were produced by Fiat and Seat in Spain by 1974.
The  1000MB was the first rear engined Skoda design to reach production. Produced from 1964 until 1977 with one and a half million examples made. With a four cylinder water-cooled engine of 998 cc mounted inline behind the swing axle final drive, by then the most common layout. The Volkswagen Beetle was beginning its third decade of production in Germany in its original form with slight increases in engine size becoming available.
This was the high point of the rear engined car, with only a few more models to appear in the future. 
All thought front wheel drive and rear engined cars dominated the small popular car scene, some manufacturers stuck to the front engine/rear  wheel drive layout. These were principally US companies manufacturing in Europe, General Motors and Ford ; but also Fiat.
Opel in Germany part of the GM empire, had introduced a new kadett in 1962 with the front engine rear drive format, making 2.3 million example by 1973, and 1.7 million of a later model of the same name, before abandoning the configuration in the small car in 1979. This was introduced in Britain by Vauxhall another part of the empire as the Viva with the HA model in 1963 to 1966 and HB model from 1966 to 1970 producing about a million examples.
The Escort Mk 1 was the first product of Ford Europe, produced in 1967 in Britain replacing the Anglia and 1970 in Germany when Ford Germany discontinued the 12M  their first front wheel drive car. The Escort was a state of the art design, except for the live rear axle with half elliptic springs at the rear, making the Escort less space and weight efficient than it could of been. The Mk 1 Escort, was replaced by the Mk2 in 1975 the last with rear wheel drive, that was replaced in 1980, with around three million of both Mark’s made world wide.

The end of the 1960’s saw another rash of front wheel drive cars from major manufacturers. Simca produced their first model of this type in 1967 the 1100. The layout followed the lead of Dante Giacosa with his design for the Autobianchi Primula, the first of many to do so. 2,139,400 were produced between 1967 and 1985, from 1979 badged as Talbot.
By then Giacosa was convinced he was on the right track and in 1969 Fiat introduced the Fiat 128 and the Autobianchi A112. The 128 design incorporated all the features of the modern small car, except the hatchback body style, the 128 being a saloon. These features were a overhead camshaft 1116 cc four cylinder water-cooled engine, set transversely in the front of the car with the gearbox in line, a three shaft final drive using pot joints at the inboard ends. McPherson strut front suspension rack and pinion steering. The A112 was a hatchback, smaller then the 128 but with a similar specification except the 903 cc overhead valve engine. Over three million 128’s of all styles were made by the end in 1984. It was also produced in Yugoslavia by Zastava and Seat in Spain and was still in production in 2008 as the Zustava 101 Skala.
Citroen produced a more civilised, stylish version of the 2 CV in the Dyane.  1.44 million examples were produced between 1967 and 1984. At first with a 435 cc engine , later with of 602 cc engine first used in the Ami 6. In 1969 yet another 2 CV based car the Ami 8 which was a revised Ami 6 was added to the range on offer.
The Renault 6 was a similar exercise to the Dyane and Ami, and was a rebodied Renault 4 with a hatchback body. Starting with the 845 cc engine then used in that model, eventually rising to 1108 cc. Made from 1968 to 1979, over 1.7 million examples were produced.
IFA in East Germany were still producing cars evolved from DKW designs. In 1966 they introduced the latest Wartburg model the 353, still with three cylinder two stroke engine. This was made until 1988. The decade finished with plenty of diversity in design in cars available to the purchaser.

Maturity 1970 to 1979
   The 1970’s was the decade when the front wheel drive layout began its domination of the small car sector, but still in many diverse formats.
Citroen introduced the GS model in 1970. It was an advanced design that followed the Citroen idea’s in front wheel drive. The air-cooled, horizontally-opposed, four cylinder overhead camshaft engine 0f 1015 cc, was mounted on the cars centre line ahead of the final drive and gear box. The suspension  was all independent with hydro-pnumatic springs utilising technology from larger models and disc brakes on all four wheels. This was topped by an aerodynamic body. Almost two and a half million GS and its successor the GSA were produced by 1987.
In Japan in the same year, Datsun (Nissan) introduced the Cherry 100A. With a 988 cc engine, mounted transversely and driving the front wheels. Over two million were made by 1982.
Having gained confidence in front wheel drive Fiat introduced the 127 in 1971, which was affectively a rebodied Autobianchi A112. By 1983 almost three and three quarter million had been produced by Fiat and SEAT produced 1.238.166 examples between 1972 and 1984.
Alfa Romeo decided to expand production with a new model manufactured in the south of Italy, the Alfasud. It was similar in layout to the Citroen GS, with a 1186 cc  water cooled horizontally-opposed engine.
When Renault had first produced a front wheel drive car the 4, they had moved the power train from the rear of the car to the front, effectively adopting the classic fwd layout of gearbox in front, then the final drive followed by the engine all inline. The Renault 5 introduced in 1972 was the last to use this layout. Almost five and a half million examples were produced by 1984 when it was replaced by the 5 Supercinque that had a transverse engine layout.


In the 1970’s some very familiar models names where used for the first time, but were mostly  much smaller than they are in the twenty first century.  The Volkswagen Golf was first produced in 1974. This the first of many Golf models would be considered today to be a supermini and was of similar size to the 2006 Toyota Yaris, although like most mini and supermini cars of sixties and seventies it was only about eighty percent of the weight  of the equivalent models at the end of the century. The contrast in weight between comparable models in the 1940’s and 1950’s and 2000 was even greater.
The Golf was the first Volkswagen design to have a transverse engine and a transmission arrangement similar to the Fiat 128  and was an instant success, with engines from 1093 cc to 1781 cc used. Over six million examples were produced by 1983.
A little known model the Audi 50 was introduced in 1974. It was a modern transverse engined Mini in every way, in size comparable to the Citroen C2.  In 1975 Volkswagen badged it as the Polo soon dropping the Audi version.
The origin Civic from Honda was a supermini with a 1169 cc engine in what is now the universal layout. Two million were produced between 1972 and 1979.
Another model that started out in the 1970’s and has lasted in many forms to the twenty first century is the Ford Fiesta which was a minicar the size of the Fiat 500 of 2008 when introduced in 1976. It was Ford’s first transverse engined car and was manufactured in Spain and Germany. With engines from 957 cc to 1298 cc, it was a success with one and three quarter million produced in six years in its original form.
Peugeot with the 104 and BLMC with the Austin Allegro continued to use the gearbox in the  sump style of transverse engine layout. The 104 began with a 954 cc engine with up to 1360 cc being available during its production run from 1972 to 1988.
The Austin Allegro was intended to be a replacement for the 1100/1300, Maxi and 1800 models, with engines from 998 cc to 1748 cc on offer. None of which it did satisfactorily. Only 643,350 examples were produced from 1973 to 1982.
Chrysler Europe developed the Horizon supermini from the Alpine small family car by shortening the wheelbase, and as a replacement for the Simca 1100 who’s layout it followed. In different market’s and at different time it was badged Chrysler, Simca or Talbot, during its nine year production run starting in 1977.
In 1975 after its merger with Peugeot, Citroen added another model to their small car line up, the  LN, which was a Peugeot 104 with 602 cc engine and transmission of the 2CV and Dyane fitted. In 1978 they introduced another model with connections to the 104, the Visa. Available with a 654 cc version of the air-cooled twin engine, or with 954 cc transverse four as fitted to the 104. One and a quarter million Visa’s of both types were produced by 1988.
 Charade is another familiar name used by Daihatsu for successive models, the first being 1977. This was a minicar with 993 cc three cylinder transverse engine driving the front wheels as have all subsequent Charade’s. The previous year the first of the Cuore/Mira model’s was produced, with 547 cc water-cooled four stroke twin cylinder engine driving the front wheels.

In 1979 Lancia produced the first generation Delta, a compact five door hatchback. Only 193,473 examples were produced by 1994 when it was replaced by a new larger second generation model.  
The Fiat Ritmo/Strada by the standard’s its day it was classes as a small family car, although it was only the size of a supermini of the order of the Skoda Fabia at the end of the century.
The Ritmo was hatchback partner to the 128, only with radically different body style. Produced between 1978 and 1988 with over one and three quarter million made. Although embracing front wheel drive, Fiat also produced a new rear engined car in the 1970’s the 126. It was an updated 500, with the engine size increased to 594 cc. It was produced by Fiat until the late 1980’s. From 1973 to 2000 it was manufactured by FSM in Poland and  Zastava in Yugoslavia. Another Fiat rear engined car design was updated in 1974, in this case by Seat in Spain. They updated the 850 which they had been producing since 1966 to create the 133, which they produced until 1980.
Skoda had evolved the 1000MB into the 100 and 110 models in 1969, the difference being the fitting of 1 litre or 1.1 litre engine. These models were replaced by the 105 for the former in 1976 and the 120 for the latter in 1978, again evolved versions. The 105 was produced until 1988 and the 120 until 1990 when Skoda stopped producing rear engined cars.
 The front engined rear wheel drive small car was not totally dead in the 1970’s. Ford in Europe produced the Escort Mk2 with engines from 1097 cc to 1598 cc, from 1975 to 1980 making almost a million examples in the United Kingdom alone. in 1975 Vauxhall produced a shorter  hatchback version of the Opel Kadett C, the Chevette. It differed from the Kadett by have a 1256 cc OHV engine fitted. Over 400,000 were produced by  1984. Mazda introduced the first of the 323 models in 1976, with engines from 985 cc to 1490 cc, making 904.573 examples by 1986. 


Chrysler in Britain introduced the Sunbeam, a shortened, rebodied Hillman Avenger with in one model the 928 cc engine from the Hillman Imp. Made in Scotland at Linwood, only 117,534 examples where made including Lotus versions in two years.
Even more rare was the Reliant Kitten long time makers of three wheeled minicars in Britain. Made in the UK from 1975 to 1982, it was unique for a minicar of the period in have a separate steel chassis, a glass fibre body with Reliant's own 848 cc four cylinder engine in the front driving a live rear axle. Only 4,074 were produced.
The Hyundai Pony produced from 1976 to 85 was their first design. It looked back to previous design conventions for a simple and reliable foundation, with a front engine/rear wheel drive layout. A live axle with half elliptic springs.
General Motors in Europe finally caught up with modern trends in 1979 by producing a transverse engined front wheel drive car, in the form of the Opel Kadett D.  Engines from 1196 cc to 1796 cc were on offer, the smaller engine being a overhead valve unit. The other engine sizes were version’s of a new design with a single overhead camshaft, aluminium alloy cylinder head, hydraulic valve lifters. A right hand drive model was introduced as the Vauxhall Astra Mk 1, in 1980.
MItsubishi produced the first of the Mirage/Colt line of cars in 1978. It had a transverse mounted, overhead camshaft, four cylinder engine driving the front wheels. 
Conformity  1980 to 1989

The new designs that appeared in the nineteen eighties showed that designers  around the world had reached a consensus on the layout and main features of the small car. Front wheel drive was universal except for a couple of updated rear engine designs such as the Skoda 130 of 1984 and the Fiat 126bis and Skoda 136 of 1987 finally the Skoda 125 of 1988. Transverse water cooled four cylinder inline engine’s were universal, with a couple of exception, the Daihatsu Cuore/Mira/Domino of 1980 with two cylinders and the Suzuki Alta of 1981 with three cylinders was another. Overhead camshaft’s (OHC) were beginning to displace overhead valves (OHV) in these engines, the Austin Metro of 1980  used the venerable “A” series engine with (OHV) as was the Fiat Panda’s engine when introduced in the same year, later version’s of the Panda had overhead camshaft engines. The SEAT Marbella which was a Panda derived design produced in Spain from 1986 to 1998 only using the (OHV) engine. Renault continued to use (OHV) engines in the “9” saloon, produced from 1982 to 1989, the “11” a hatchback version and the 5 Supercinque, produced from 1984 to 1996. Ford’s front wheel drive cars, the  Escort 3 of 1981 and the Ford Fiesta 2 of 1989 had (OHV) engines, as did the new GM Corsa/Nova of 1983 and the Toyota Starlet of 1984. The Coure’s engine was only of 547 cc, but the 1 litre and 1.1 litre engine was the norm.
The Zastava Yugo 45/Koral of 1980/1, with a 1.1 litre OHV engine from the Fiat 127 belonged to this group. Its design incorporated other parts of the 127, also 128. It was still in production in Serbia in 2008. 
The unitary chassis was universal with coil spring front suspension, most using McPherson strut’s. the exception being the Austin Metro, that had Hydrolastic springs and wishbone IFS as used previously in the “1100”’ and Allegro. Rear suspension design was still fairly diverse, mostly being independent either with coils or torsion bars, a few had beam axles.

Disc brakes at the front and drum’s at the rear was universal for this size of car by then.
There were other significant new models not mentioned previously that embraced all the new design conventions. They where in date order, the latest Mazda 323, made from 1980 to 1985. The Volkswagen Polo Mk 2 came along in 1981, inevitably being larger than the previous model. Around four and a half million examples were produced by 1992. The first of the Nissan Micra/March models was also produced in 1981 and over two million where produced in the same eleven years. Honda introduced the City, in 1981, named the Jazz in Europe. It was replaced in 1986 with a revised model that was replaced in 1994.
The Talbot Samba which was made in what was  previously a Simca factory and was based on the Peugeot 104. The Talbot name was revived to replace the Chrysler name and the Samba was the last to carry the name. produced from 1982 to 1986, less than 200,000 were produced. 
The Alfa Romeo Arna of 1983 was a joint effort by Nissan and Alfa Romeo produced in Italy. It used a Nissan Cherry chassis with the Alfasud engine and transmission installed. It was not a success and less than sixty two thousand examples were produced in its three year production run.
Suzuki first produced the Cultis, also known as the SA-310 in 1983. A front wheel drive car in the latest standard configuration, with either a 993 cc three cylinder or a 1324 cc four cylinder engine.

 In 1983 two important new models arrived, the Fiat Uno and the Peugeot 205. The Uno was produced in Italy until 1995, and was produced in South Africa as the Nissan Uno, Poland, Brazil, Argentina, Pakistan and Morocco, in some countries into the twenty first century. The 205 was also very successful and 5.3 million where produced in a fifteen year life. In the same year Mitsubishi produced a new version of the Mirage/Colt, with engines from 1198 cc to a 1796 cc Diesel available. It was replaced in 1987 by a third generation model that was produced until 1991. In 1984 GM produced the first of the Opel Astra’s, and Mk2 Vauxhall Astra. This remained in production until 1991.    
 The Ibiza was one of a new breed of SEAT cars, in that it wasn’t a rebadged FIAT. With the design help of Porsche and Volkswagen for the engine and chassis and Giorgetto Giugiaro for the body  they produced an original supermini model. Half a million were made between 1985 and 1993. In the same year Hyundai produced their first front wheel drive car the Excel/Pony  the X1, which was in production until 1989.
The Citroen AX of 1986 was soon to replace all their other small cars , except 2 CV that lasted until 1990. The AX remained in production until 1998.
Badged as an Autobianchi in Italy and as a Lancia elsewhere, the Y10 was an upmarket minicar replacing the A112, utilising various FIAT components, it was produced from 1985 to 1996. 
The number 309 was out of sequence with those used by Peugeot in 1986 when the first British built model carry a Peugeot badge was introduced. The 309 was the last of the Simca design’s originally to be badged a Talbot, and not a true Peugeot . Produced at Ryton in the UK only, between 1986 and 1993, 837,520 examples were made.


Volkswagen introduced the Mk2 Golf in 1983. It was slightly larger than its predecessor but still only four metres long. It proved a great success and approximately seven million were produced by 1991.
Known as the Ford Festiva in North America and Australasia from 1986 to 1993, Mazda 121 in Britain from 1988 to 1991 and Kia Pride in South Korea from 1986 to 2000 and Britain from 1991 to 2000, it was a Mazda design produced by Kia in Korea.  
 The Ford Fiesta had been updated in 1983 and in 1989 the Mk3 was introduced, being longer and heavier it was a full sized supermini. It was produced in England,Germany and Spain with engines option’s from 999 cc to 1796 cc until 1997.
In Russia AvtoVAZ began producing cars in the popular FWD format, one was a very basic city car the Vaz 1111 Oka in 1988. The Oka was designed to be cheap and 750 cc twin cylinder engine was used. Both are still in production in 2008.
The Justy was produced by Subaru from from 1987 to 1994. Originally in front wheel drive form from 1988 in four wheel drive form, a rare feature for a small hatchback. The only other small car in that form was a version of the Fiat Panda made from 1983.  All later Justy models were rebadged Suzuki or Daihatsu models.
The ZAZ-1102/Tavia is a front wheel drive hatchback from the Ukrainian company ZAZ, it has been in production since 1987. A saloon version the Slavuta was introduced in 1995. Both are still in production by Avtozaz.
 Skoda produced their first front wheel drive car in 1987 the Favorit. It used the OHV engine from the 130, but the rest was all new. It was produced until 1994.


Sophistication 1990 to 1999
The hatchback body type was now almost universal in three and five door form, with some also produced in saloon and estate car version’s. The exception being the rear engines cars where the hatch could not be accommodated.
During the nineteen eighties the use of the Mini and Supermini car had become world wide, being available on all continents and manufactured in most of them. increasingly by subsidiaries of the origin producer. During the sixty years since the Second World War the definition by size of  mini, supermini and small family cars has grown, effectively moving them all up a class making room for the city car at the bottom.


The mass produced car was the domain of the world’s established industrialised countries for the major part of the twentieth century. Those countries being the United States, many European states and latterly Japan. The rest of the world had to import cars from these countries or assemble cars from parts supplied by them. The Japanese motor industry was very successful in exporting to most of the world, including those countries with there own motor industry. As industrialisation spread throughout Asia the Japanese have proved adept at providing design’s and technical support to those emerging industrialised countries. Daihatsu design’s are produced by Perodua and Mitsubishi design’s by Proton in Malaysia. Mazda design’s have been produced by Kia in South Korea, two of them the Festiva and Aspire, being sold by Ford in North America. Suzuki design’s are produced by Maruti in India, the car sold as the Suzuki Alta being one of these.
Technical innovation at this time centred round the engine and consisted of electronic fuel injection and ignition, multiple overhead camshafts and valves, with more ratio’s in the gearbox.
The 1990 crop of small cars from Europe consisted of the the first Renault Clio which replaced the 5 in the Renault line-up, an updated Volkswagen Polo the 11F, and a revised Austin Metro produced by Austin-Rover in the UK, that became the Rover Metro with a new wishbone front suspension and a new engine, a Rover K series unit either of 1.1 or 1.4 litres. The Rover Metro becoming the Rover 100 in 1994, was discontinued in 1998.
The Autozam Carol Mk11 was produced by Suzuki for Mazda in the same year, Autozam was a name some Mazda cars were sold under. It used the Alta platform and had a 657 cc engine. It was updated in 1996.
The Peugeot 106 a development of the Citroen AX was introduced in 1991 becoming the smallest car in their model range. Also that year Fiat introduced the first of their front wheel drive city cars the Cinquecento. Manufactured at the FSM plant in Tychy, Poland, along side the Polski Fiat 126p which it was intended to replace. The 126p remained in production until 1993. One engine option only available in Poland was the 704 cc water cooled OHV twin fitted to the 126p, mounted longitudinally similar to a Saab or an Audi. The other engine options  a 903 cc OHV water cooled four and a1.1 litre OHV four where mounted transversely.


The Tico was Daewoo’s first city car, it was based on the third generation Suzuki Alta and was in production in South Korea until 2001.
Nissan March/Micra K11, replaced the K10 in 1992 and was manufactured in the United Kingdom as well as Japan. with a new all-aluminium electronic fuel injected engine of 1 or 1.3 litres.
The Subaru Vivio was Keicar/city car, with a supercharged 658 cc engine and front or four wheel drive, in production from 1992 to 1998.
1993 was a good year for new design’s, six completely new models. The largest was the Peugeot 306 at 3.99 metres long. Built on the floorpan and sharing machinery with the larger Citroen ZX. The Fiat Punto was a smaller supermini and replaced the Uno in Fiat’s model range. Engine sizes available ranged from a 1.1 litre to a 1.7 litre diesel.
The Renault Twingo (Generation 1) was a new new concept in mini cars designed by Patrick Le Quément. Flexible seating  in a mono box body with movable back seats that allowed boot space to be exchanged for rear seat leg room or the reverse provided a very adaptable car. Initially fitted with a 1.2 litre engine later changed to a 1.1 litre unit. At first only in production in France, from 1999 to 2002 then also produced in Columbia and Uruguay . Two and a half million examples were produced by 2007 when it was replaced.  Another new concept for the mini car from Japan, was the Suzuki Wagon R, which was a Mini MPV designed to give the largest volume possible under the japanese Kiacar regulations.
The Opel Corsa B was first produced in 1993 at Zaragoza, in Spain, replacing the previous Corsa model. It was sold by General Motors through out the world using names familiar to the target market. Petrol engines from 1.2 to 1.6 litres and a1.5 litre Diesel where available. In production until 2000.


The Polo Mk3 hatchback was introduced in 1994 and it shared components with the the second generation SEAT Ibiza hatchback introduced in 1993. SEAT was by then part on the Volkswagen Group. Both were completely new models on a new platform sharing components with the larger Mk3 Golf. Engines from 1.1 to 2 litres were on offer. This version of the Polo was produced until 2000, an updated version from then until 2002 in Slovakia and Spain and the Ibiza and was produced until 2002 in Spain.
The fourth generation Suzuki Alto the HA11 model was introduced in 1994 and was produced until 1998. The Maruti Zen that is related to the Alta produced from 1993 to 2006 was sold in Europe at that time as the Suzuki Alta.
South Korean manufacturer Kia made the Avella from 1994 to 1998. A conventional hatchback, it was sold in North America as the Ford Aspire and in Japan as the Ford Festiva. Engines of 1323 cc and 1498 cc were available.
Skoda joined the Volkswagen group in 1991 and in 1994 a replacement for the Favorit was introduced the Felicia. It was transitional vehicle utilising a rebodied Favorit platform with the option of the 1.3 litre engine or the 1.6 litre petrol or 1.9 litre diesel Volkswagen engines. It was produced until 2001.
Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua the Malayan auto manufacturer known by the name Perodua was established in 1993. Its first model was based on the Daihatsu Mira. It was named Kancil for Malaya. Between 2000 and 2006 sold as the Nippy in the United Kingdom and Daihatsu Ceria in Indonesia . Fitted either with a 660 cc or a 847 cc three cylinder engine from Daihatsu. It was still being produced for the Malaysian market in 2008.
A fourth generation Charade was produced by Daihatsu between 1994 and 2000 which was sold in Japan and Europe. The Daihatsu Sirion was sold as the Charade in the UK and Australia in 2003.      


The Mk4 version of the  Ford Fiesta was introduced in 1995. With a new body skin, revised suspension and the addition of the option of 1.25L and 1.4L Ford Zetec engines. Built in Spain, Germany, UK and Brazil, for some market’s as the Mazda 121 until 1999.
 In the same year a Mk3 version of the Autozam (Mazda) Carol was introduced, an updated version of the previous model.
The 1995 Geo Metro/ produced at Ingersoll in Canada was based on the Suzuki Swift. For 1998 it became the Chevrolet Metro and was produced in that form until 2000. It was also produced as the Pontiac Firefly from 1995 to 2000.
 The new Rover 200 of 1995 produced by Rover Group in the UK, now owned by BMW, was smaller than the model’s that previously used the name. It was available with a range of Rover’s “K” series engines from 1.1L , 1.4L, 1.8L petrol engines and a 2.0L diesel. Only produced as a 3 door or 5 door hatchback form. A revised version was produced in 1995 and named the Rover 25, which remained in production until the company folded, by then not part of BMW. An MG version of the 25 was sold the MG ZR from 2001 to 2005. This had the 1.4 L or the 1.8 L “K”, series engine and a 2 L turbo diesel option.
Daihatsu introduced the Move a tall 5 door hatchback kei car in 1995. Built on the Daihatsu Cuore platform and fitted with a 660 cc engine for Japan and engines of 847 cc or 989 cc for export. It was regularly updated and was still in production in 2008.
The Lancia “Y”, produced by Lancia a Fiat subsidiary between 1996 and 2003, was a rebodied, upmarket version of the Fiat Punto. A three door hatchback supermini, with engine option’s from 1.1 L to 1.4 L  available.


Mazda introduced the Demio a tall 5 door hatchback minivan of supermini size,in 1996. One of the first of its type, 1.3 L and 1.5 L engine option’s were available. It was also named the Metro and 121 outside Japan and the Ford Festiva MiniWagon in Japan. Produced until 2001 in Japan and was still in production in Mazda’s Bogota Columbia plant.
Ford introduced the “Ka”, in Europe in 1996 after a concept car based on the Fiesta Mark 4 platform was well received. It was a low cost model at the bottom of the Ford Europe range. Due to its extreme styling and perhaps to reduce cost, it was fitted with a 1300 cc version of the overhead valve engine first fitted to the British Ford 105E Anglia in 1959. This when overhead camshaft engine, single and double had become the industry standard. It wasn’t until 20002 that the overhead cam Duratec engine was fitted. The “Ka”, was introduced in South America in 1997, being produced in Brazil. Apart from the engine change in 2002 it was basically the same car that was produced with styling changed until it was replaced in 2008 by a new model based on the current Fiat Panda and produced in Poland.
 The Citroen Saxo replaced the AX which was phased out by 1998 and was developed from that model, as had the Peugeot 106. they shared engines from 1.1 L to 1.6 l and the platform. The 106 was a Phase 2 version in this form. they were both replaced in 2003.
The Proton Tiara was five door hatchback based on the Citroen AX and was fitted with a Citroen 1.1 L engine. It was in production in Malaysia from 1996 to 2000.
The Toyota Starlet 90 series was produced in 3 door and 5 door form and either front wheel or four wheel drive. A range of engines where available, mostly of 1.3 L in various specification’s. It was in production from 1996 to 1999.