Ever since my father was diagnosed with dementia several years ago, I’ve been making the 15-hour trip to visit him as often as possible. My route takes me past several points of interest, including Henry’s Rabbit Ranch, the Uncle Remus Museum, and what I thought was the headquarters of Dubble Bubble chewing gum, which was humorously using a ‘bubble car’ as a signpost. I’d always intended to stop, but never seemed to make it to Madison, Georgia before dark. This Thanksgiving, I finally timed my trip to allow for a weekday visit, and ended up being sadly disappointed I hadn’t made the effort sooner.
Because it turns out Dubble Bubble Acres is actually the home of the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum. Or rather it was… The whole lot was put up for auction in 2013 (missed it by that much!), with the final sale total running around US $9 million for roughy 200 cars and other pieces of memorabilia.
A virtual tour of the museum is still online and includes photos and information on the collection. This 1959 F.M.R. (Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH) Tg-500 “Tiger” is one of 320 manufactured (four of which were owned by the museum), and gaveled for an astounding US $280,000. As the “Tiger” name was owned by Krupp, the vehicle’s official “Tg” name supposedly stood for Tourenfahrzeug-Gelandesport, or ‘touring vehicle–cross-country sports.’
Based on the Messerschmidt KR200 Kabinenroller, for which FMR had taken over production in 1956, the Tiger was four-wheeled and powered by a two-stroke, inline two-cylinder 494cc engine making 20.5 hp. The car in stock form could muster 0-60mph times of around 28 seconds. A similarly-priced Austin-Healy Sprite took about 21 seconds by comparison. We have more coverage on the Karo here.
Amazingly, however, we don’t seem to have any in-depth CC coverage of the BMW Isetta, and since the car sitting atop the pole in the lead photo is only a fiberglas replica, I’m not going to make this that post. I did find mention of one out in the wild here, though. The car pictured above from the museum is a 1956 Isetta 250 powered by a one-cylinder 12 HP engine. Weighing all of 700 lb. soaking wet, it tops out around 52 mph (84 kph, or 3 weeks).
At the other end of the Isetta spectrum, Mr. Weiner commissioned a full-sized driveable version of the Hot Wheels Whatta Drag car in 2005.
Powered by a supercharged 502 cubic inch (8.2l) Chevy big block, and weighing a mere 1,500 lb, there is no published top speed, though I imagine it moves the needle quickly to “Ludicrous.”
Note that Whatta Drag is not to be confused with Steve Urkel’s Isetta Rocketta, which mounts an Isetta on a rail dragster chassis.
To promote the auction, RM Sotheby’s published several humorous videos, and the auction details themselves are documented here.
With the museum now closed, I’m sorry I never made the effort to stop in. Even so, I’m glad I’ve gone past so many times, because it means I’ll have no regrets about time spent with my Dad. And isn’t that a big part of what cars enable us to do, anyway?
Related Microcar Coverage: