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-   -   Interesting/unique cars in Europe (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/interesting-unique-cars-in-europe-157977/)

vroom Aug 8th, 2001 10:37 AM

Interesting/unique cars in Europe
 
Just wondering if you have come across any unique or interesting cars during your travels, or if you have rented vehicles that were particularly memorable (and why were they memorable/unitque/interesting). The Minis always make me a smile. I saw a very rugged looking Nissan SUV in Paris a few years ago, before the Nissans in the US became more aggressive looking (as they have in the last few years).

Wendy Aug 8th, 2001 10:45 AM

The 'smart' car! It looks like a semi has rammed its back end to the front seat, two seater, I'm certain it is electric...tiniest thing I've ever seen! I have a small Renault in Paris, but HOW this car actually gets around...I see them parked, but haven't seen it driving yet!

Liz Aug 8th, 2001 10:47 AM

We thought the SMART cars were cute. Saw lots of them, especially in Paris. One oddity: we were surprised to see a number of PT Cruisers in Paris this past June.

ALW Aug 8th, 2001 10:48 AM

Actually, the smart car is gas powered (choice between regular and diesel), and rumour has it that they're planning to introduce it in the States soon! I think it's a totally cool car. Then again, I had quite a love affair with the Deux Cheval :-) (-:

justtrying Aug 8th, 2001 10:50 AM

In 98 I saw a number of two seater sports cars in London. I believe they were Fiats, or some other brand that was once marketed in the US, but is no longer. Pretty cool.

Wendy Aug 8th, 2001 10:50 AM

Gas powered? That little thing!? Wow, I would have never guessed! It HAS to be easy to park, all it needs is three feet! <BR> <BR>Wendy

A.M. Aug 8th, 2001 10:51 AM

I like the pull down trays in the back seats of some Euro cars, like on airlines. <BR>A.M.

Liz Aug 8th, 2001 10:53 AM

We acually saw one SMART car that was parked perpendicular to the curb! Don't know if that was legal, but it fit.

susy Aug 8th, 2001 10:56 AM

I was passed by a Smart Car on the autobahn in Germany! And I was going at least 75 myself, so they have plenty of get up and go!

justtring Aug 8th, 2001 10:58 AM

And what are those cars, I believe they are French (Renault perhaps), that have the front hood that looks kind of like a VW beetle and some have a convertible roof that rolls or scrunches back?

justtrying Aug 8th, 2001 11:08 AM

Liz: I too remember seeing a smart car parked like you described. I think they are intended to be parked either traditionally or in the matter you described, which is a lot easier than parallel parking.

Art Aug 8th, 2001 11:15 AM

They don't really have interesting cars in Europe any more like they used to. Ie. <BR>A car with the gear shift that came out of the dash shaped like a reverse capital L. You pushed and pulled and twisted the perpendicular part of it to shift. The Messerschmidt that was a 2 seater(one behind the other) that had 4 speeds. You shut off the engine and turned the key in the other direct to start it and had 4 gears in reverse. It would go 100 mph(160kmph) either forward or reverst. It was so low that you had to look up at bike riders. You got in by raising the canopy and stepping over the side. <BR>The directional lights on cars in the 60's and 70's were little arms that came out of the side panel just behind the dore and had a light but did not blink. More like sticking you arm out the window. <BR>The Isetta, 2 seater with one door. The front of the car was the dore. The old Citreon whose windshield wiperes moved depending on the speed of the car. When you stopped at a stop sign or red light, the wipers came to a complete stop no matter how hard it was raining. <BR>The seats were like garden fold up chairs that were removed during the week by the farmers and replaced on Sundays after hosing out the inside of the car. <BR>Those were strange cars!! <BR>

Capo Aug 8th, 2001 11:19 AM

I LOVE the Smart cars! Very tiny, but wonderfully-inspired design. It seemed like they were everywhere in Rome when we were there this past spring. <BR> <BR>F.Y.I.: The Smart car first went on sale across Europe on Oct. 2, 1998, and was developed by Micro Compact Car AG,a joint venture between Daimler-Benz and Swatch Group, the Swiss manufacturer of the Swatch wristwatch. In November, however, Swatch sold its stake in the project to Daimler.

BTilke Aug 8th, 2001 11:22 AM

The SmartCar was conceived in a joint venture between Mercedes and Swatch (the watch company). It was supposed to be electric, originally, hence the golf cart looking gear shift, but that didn't work out and so it became a gas-powered car. Mercedes now owns the brand in its entirety; however, sales have been disappointing and there has been talk about canning it in the next few years. FWIW, it's even more interesting to pass a SmartCar dealer and see their tower of cars (several SmartCars stacked on top of each other in a glass tube). There's also a SmartCar convertible. Don't know if it's still going, but Swissair and Avis used to have a deal where if you landed in Zurich and had a long layover, you could rent a SmartCar very cheaply to poke about Zurich for a few hours. <BR>We like the new Morris Minnie coming out (by BMW); especially the jazzed up version. However, there's already a 2 year waiting list! <BR>PT Cruisers are very eye-catching here and even though they're built on the Neon platform, a small car in the States, they look quite sizable here. <BR>BTilke (Brussels) <BR>P.S. I HATE seeing American (or foreign) full size SUVs over here! They hogparking spaces and block the view of other cars on the road, which is a big concern as we live in one of those countries with the insane priority to the right rule.

Katherine Aug 8th, 2001 11:24 AM

Don't you think you would just be creamed in an accident in one of those Smart Cars? Not much protection. How about the small MBenz? I don't remember the model number. Very tiny and cute. <BR> <BR>I always think it's interesting to see models of Fords that aren't manufactured or available in the US.

Ess Aug 8th, 2001 11:27 AM

I loved the look of the smart car - like a kid's crayon drawing. It was so cute I wanted to take one home with me, put in the luggage compartment of the plane. <BR> <BR>We had a v-6, 4-door Citroen rental last time - it was a great car, but not as neat looking as the old ones. It looked sort of like a saab. But it had a feature that made it rise and lower closer to the ground. I guess it's easier to get out of if you're wearing a tight skirt and the curb is closer to you. <BR> <BR>We loved all the tiny old renaults with their small windows, racing down the French roads, zooming past us in our big Citroen. We had a joke, everyone on the road in France is a Euro Sport driver, no matter what kind of car they drive (as opposed to our joke about dads and moms in America in the racing-model minivans).

justtrying Aug 8th, 2001 11:30 AM

Now that ARt mentions it, the car I'm thinking of may have been a Citroen. Heck, if I knew, I wouldn't be asking.

Betty Aug 8th, 2001 11:40 AM

To Justtring: I think the car you are talking about (similar to VW beetle with canvas roll-back top) is the old Deux Chevaux, made, I believe, by Citroen. I don't believe they are made anymore. I once traveled in one of those from southern France to Wales and back, the return trip non-stop except for a late-night dinner in Paris! <BR> <BR>To Art: That car with the gear shift in the dash was probably a Renault 4L. Two girl friends and I (in the "back seat" such as it was) had to spend the night in ours one July 14 when there were no rooms to be had in les Sables d'Olonne! (Thank God for the guardian angels that watch over the young and stupid!) Not exactly the best night's sleep I ever had. <BR> <BR>

ALW Aug 8th, 2001 11:42 AM

Justtrying: <BR> <BR>I believe you are thinking of the Deux Cheval -- which is also the car mentioned with the gears in the dashboard.

ALW Aug 8th, 2001 11:43 AM

Sorry, sorry -- not paying attention -- "Deux Chevaux" is correct (not the singular Cheval).


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