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SNAPSHOT 70: A one-passenger ‘car’

The small 3-wheeler ‘car’ seen here in 1936 is an Italian Passarin. The mechanism was mounted on a central frame similar to a motorcycle and the occupant sat on a saddle to steer via a wheel on a vertical control. The 3-wheeler Reliant Robin of years ago could carry more than one, and even the 3-wheeler BMW Isetta could carry two, as could the 3-wheeler Messerschmitt (albeit with tandem seating). The 3-wheeler British Peel P50 single-seater of 1962-65 claimed to be the world’s smallest car ever but had they ever seen a Passarin?

Antonio Passarin of Milan made this “Minima” type in 1935 only – so presumably even chic Italians couldn’t quite come at it. The car had proper doors, and a stylish waistline. That same year Passarin went on to design a powerful speedboat able to launch torpedoes. His engineering interests went back to at least 1926 because in that year he patented a captive insulated rubber mounting block, a similar idea to the Silentbloc.

What engages our interest in the car is the acceptability of the shape: it isn’t weird as so many 3-wheelers often are, and the wheels were a good size. Given the heat that must have arisen in the cabin it’s as well that the windscreen opened!

 


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