On the 17th March I was invited over to Kent by Jean Hammond to visit the Hammond collection of microcars (also RUM Cars - Register of Unusual Microcars). The sun was shining and much more impressive was that the satellite navigation in my car took me almost door to door, despite the fact that the collection is in the middle of the country side. After a much needed mug of tea, Jean took me over to the building where the collection was stored, and what a wonderful collection it was.
First up was the main vehicle that I was looking forward to seeing, the Allard Clipper. Only two known examples are known to exist and the other one is believed to be in Germany and so to see the only one in the UK really was a treat. As a result I took photos rom every angle imaginable. What surprised me about this and many other microcars though was their sheer size. Having never seen one in the flesh before I always imagined them to be a bit smaller.
After the Allard I saw a prototype Replicar Cursor that had apparently been fished out of the local river after it had been dumped there by vandals. It still shows signs of being at the bottom of the river but being a prototype made this one quite rare.
Behind this was a Velorex that was the first one to appear in the UK, this had been driven over to the UK from Poland by a student who owned it at the time and sold it on whilst in the UK.
Opposite this was a 1969 Meister, the only known example to be in the UK. This had an interesting feature in that if a passenger wanted to get in, they had to lift the rear section and clamber in from the back.
A 1971 Bond Bug under restoration was next with an 1966 AC Acedes Mk II and a 1958 AC Petite Mk 2 parked next door. In front of these was a New Map Solyto which despite its rather quaint styling was actually built as a basic truck for peasant farmers to take a pig to market. Even things like windscreen wipers were optional extras though what really intrigued me was the fact that the petrol tank is pretty much mounted to the dashboard on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Perhaps the most “aesthetically challenged” vehicle of the collection is the 1970 Cassalini Sulky. This particular vehicle was rescued from a scarp yard in Gainsborough in 1982. It could also be driven by anyone over the age of 14 in Italy, but I still get the impression that when it was designed, looks were the last thing on the agenda.
Opposite this is a 1958 Tourette that as Jean pointed out looks remarkably like the Brutsch cars. It was soon discovered though that designs for this car were sketched as early as 1946; long before the Brutsch revealed their vehicles.
Alongside sits a 1969 Eccles Executive, an electric vehicle that was designed to be used on country estates for shooting parties so that they could creep up on their prey. It looks fool proof to with one huge control that essentially offers, forward, reverse and stop! Like the Cassalini, this vehicle was also rescued from a scrap yard.
Amongst the collection are also a number of fascinating 4-wheelers but the next 3-wheeler I came across was a 1959 Frisky Family Three. Jean explained that this car was driven to a German rally in 1981 and that it was so noisy inside that conversation was impossible. The best way to communicate, was to pull up and stop. At the side of this was a 1972 Vespa van whilst in front of it was a rather interesting Flipper. True, it has 4-wheels, but this one I have to mention as the steering turns 180 degrees. As the front wheels are powered, this means that essentially, when you get in and put the vehicle into gear, you have no idea if you are about to shoot forward or backwards, depending and where abouts the steering wheel was left.
Parked next door is a rather gleaming 1960 Messerschmitt KR200. This vehicle is completely original having been purchased from “one careful lady owner”.
Infront of this, just next to a diminutive Peel P50, is a rather modern looking 1984 Bamby. I have seen one before and to me this one just seemed so different and I could not figure out why until driving home it suddenly dawned on me that the first one I saw was an older type with a gull wing door was this one was a later type with side a side opening door.
Alongside this are two Heinkels, a 1957 and a 1958 model that Jean speaks of with much passion as these were the first cars in the collection. The 1958 model was the first microcar purchased by the Hammond household in 1976 whilst the 1957 model was purchased in 1980. Both vehicles it is said, have had outstanding reliability, performance and more importantly, exceptional comfort.
One of the stranger 3-wheelers was a 1992 Moby which was the first prototype of its kind. It is essentially a Yamaha moped with an enclosed body attached to it with the front wheel being off set and inline with the rear right had side wheel. The stability of such a vehicle that seems so light is questionable. A second prototype was also made but was never made road worthy and as the project prooved too expensive the project was dropped, and so this remains the only running vehicle.
The last 3-wheeler I saw was a 1962 Nobel which was surprisingly large. Like most microcars, they may have small engines, but that does not necessarily mean the vehicle is small.
After looking at a few more 4-wheelers, Jean then offered me more tea and a rather nice ham roll before I jumped back into my car and made my way home.
My thanks go to Jean for the invite and for making me so welcome. More details about the cars and the RUM can be found at:
Elvis Payne. April 2007.