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Death of the small car

3 years ago

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Andrew English | Journalist


19 April 2021

In the 135-year history of the motor car, most memorable have been the small ones. Alec Issigonis’s Mini, Dante Giacosa’s Fiat 500, Stanley Edge’s Austin Seven, Ferdinand Porsche’s VW Beetle, Patrick Le Quément’s Renault Twingo or Stefan Sielaff’s Audi A2, these tiny cars were packed with big, brave and clever ideas.

Call them what you will: people’s cars, small cars, A-segment cars as the industry knows them, or ‘city cars’ as the EU dismisses them, these are the ones we remember.

Stroll through any European capital and you’ll see many of these automotive tiddlers still doing their job, still being as clever and as economical as when they were first designed. Though not, I suspect, as intrepid as Mrs Algernon Stitch, heroine of Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, who drove her Austin Seven down the steps of the gentlemen’s public lavatory in Sloane Street.

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