After a bit of a hiatus, FFTM returns with an Italian-made microcar, Grecav.
At mobile.de the earliest Grecav is a 1995 identifed as a Mopedauto. Like all these mini-engined micro cars they cost rather a lot compared to almost any decade-old Astra/Focus/Golf class car with room for four. They belong to a captive market of people who for some reason are not able to drive a “proper” car.
The 1995 car (above) has exposed hinges, rubber-sealed windows and is very narrow. It is made of GRP and has a 0.5 litre engine which good for 45 kmph and 4kW. It´s not unlike a wheeled Dalek. It seats two and has an automatic transmission of the CV-type.
At the official Grecav site one can find details on the current range of cars (and agricultural products).
This is one of the interiors which is a photo bad enough to appear in a seller’s advertisement.
The common character of these micro-cars is a compulsion to borrow other themes from mainstream makers. The exterior has a wholly inappropriate grille (to suck massive amounts of air into the engine bay where it is not needed) and the interior has shiny plastic panels inspired by Renault or Mini, perhaps. It would be more convincing if the designers tried to consider a look that harmonised more with the car’s scale and price – such honesty would make the cars more not less inviting.
For the price of two of these vehicles a competent industrial designer could be hired to avoid some of these errors such as misaligned features and the rather crude louvres on the grille (it goes wrong towards the bottom). I suspect Mr Grecav is not fully appraised of what the designer needs to do or engineers impede the designer’s will.
The current cars use two-cylinder diesel Lombardi engines (I didn’t know diesels came so small) with a 62 x 72 stroke and bore (making it undersquare) or long-stroke, something that British engines tended to go for in the 1960’s, I believe. Wikipedia helps out with this here: “At a given engine speed, a longer stroke increases engine friction (since the piston travels a greater distance per stroke) and increases stress on the crankshaft due to the higher peak piston acceleration. The smaller bore also reduces the area available for valves in the cylinder head, requiring them to be smaller or fewer in number. Because these factors favour lower engine speeds, undersquare engines are most often tuned to develop peak torque at relatively low speeds.” The key thing here is “low speeds” so while such an engine won’t do in a Le Mans car, it will be apt for a vehicle capable of just outrunning a fit racing cyclist.
Grecavs have a disc-drum brake combination, MacPherson struts up front and “independent rocking arms with springs and shock absorbers”. The whole lot weighs 350 kg, or still less than a Fiat 500 of the original type. When you look at the Bambino you realise how much it achieves for not much more weight or complexity.
You can inspect the full range, which includes a sport pack here.