I love tiny cars. A fact that becomes painfully obvious if you’re ever tried to walk past one with me without me taking a picture. It’s not an obsession, more like a deep lust that mostly presents itself when I’m in the presence of a sexy ass micro car parked precariously across a sidewalk. Maybe I have circus roots and have an instinctual desire to cram myself into one. Maybe it’s a subconscious desire to bring the earth-destroying giant trucks of my youth down to a reasonable human size, save gas, fight traffic, and reduce accident deaths. But most likely I just like cute-ass tiny cars because they’re awesome. Someday I will have one.
One of my favorite tiny cars (and that’s a loose term here) is the unfathomably small Canta LX. It’s a mobility vehicle created in 1995 by Waaijenberg specifically for disabled drivers. It’s designed to allow a wheelchair to drive into the hatchback and then drive all over town. But they also make a two seat version that functions basically like a normal car. Except it’s so small it’s not even classified as a car. You don’t need a license to drive one and they can drive or park anywhere a bike can. It’s essentially a hoveround with a windshield and air conditioner.
You can find these guys all over Amsterdam, especially in the Centrum, parked on any open spot in the medium, sidewalk, or nook that can hold one. With its 0.16 liter one cylinder engine and 5.5 horsepower at 3,600 RPM it has a top speed of 28mph or 45kph. And at 3.6 feet wide it’s legal to drive on bike paths which are omnipresent in Amsterdam.
I’ve seen a few competitors come along since my first visit to the city but the Canta LX is still my favorite.
the Piaggio Ape
So you can find these vehicles all over the world. Especially popular in Asia, all over Europe, and originally manufactured in Italy by the Piaggio company who makes the Vespa scooter. It’s a car version of a Vespa. It was originally called the VespaCar but later was renamed the Ape after the Italian for “bee” (as Vespa means “wasp”). In continuous production since 1948. It comes in a variety of body styles. The APE 50 is the classic cab and truck bed version, and the APE CALESSINO is the autorickshaw version. Vintage styles also include van and food truck conversions.
Today the Ape is primarily produced in India by Piaggio India, who produce the autorickshaw version of the Ape.
The Jiayuan City Spirits Eidola
This is the first time I’ve seen one of these. It’s made in Spain. Electric. It has a built in backup camera, console navigation, all kinds of swank stuff. It comes in a 28mph and 50mph version but otherwise identical (I assume for low speed classification like the Canta LX). Apparently it also comes in a little truck version and a little van version. !!! Although I think I would prefer it with a combustion engine so I could use it Burning Man without charging it.