Far From the Mainstream: Grecav

After a bit of a hiatus, FFTM returns with an Italian-made microcar, Grecav

1995 Grecav: source

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).

2017 Grecav Sonique: grecav.it

This is one of the interiors which is a photo bad enough to appear in a seller’s advertisement.

2017 Grecav Sonique interior: grecav.it

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.

2017 Grecav: grecav.it

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.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

3 thoughts on “Far From the Mainstream: Grecav”

  1. Some years back in a moment of insanity I ventured into this category trying to relive the distant past of Issetta ownership without forking out the insane prices of restored cars. The idea was to choose something different, enjoy it for the summer, attend a few local shows and sell it on hopefully at a profit.
    With this in mind I chose a French Aixam Mega which is a sort of open beach buggy type with moulded in seats, tubular space frame and unusual enough to be quite an attraction in metallic red when displayed, kids especially loved it.
    Worse part was the twin cylinder diesel which was noisey and transmitted vibration throughout the car.
    The good parts were simplicity and cuteness but offset by a total lack of refinement in the prime mover.
    I sold the car on line to someone in the south of France!
    Would someone explain how to add pictures in the comment section or is this not allowed.

    1. DG. You can copy and paste in a link to photos elsewhere on the web which will show once you press POST. Otherwise you need Author status to upload images of your own to the DTW storage area. Then you need to copy and paste a link again – but the advantage is that the image stays there forever (aah the hubris of the DTW Editorial team) rather than remaining at the whim of wherever the image was lifted from. We’re very happy to give you Author status if you feel like doing a piece or two about your fascinatingly profligate car ownership! Alternatively you can mail them to us and we’ll put them up in your comment box.

  2. The trouble with many rote Wikipedia entries is obvious from the passage quoted. A longer stroke has more friction; well, for a given capacity the smaller piston has a smaller circumference, and by the magic of physical reality, it’s a linear relationship – result, no difference except for the piston speed, more speed more friction. Presumably the long stroke engine runs more slowly though, so I leave you to ponder the efficacy of these wiki remarks. Similarly a smaller piston weighs less and it’s mainly a square relationship as the piston top area is the heaviest bit, so the forces on the crank for a given capacity long stroke versus short stroke engine may be more or less at a given rpm, depending on detail design. Where do they dig up these Wikipedia authors with apparently little concept of anything much anyway?

    Honda and Toyota have easily shown that thermal efficiency is best with a stroke to bore of about 1.2, pretty undersquare. It comes down to smaller combustion chamber area to waste heat through the metal to the coolant for a given capacity. Much more stroke and valve size becomes too small, so turboing becomes essential and that costs more. Honda R&D website allows you to download advanced articles for nothing btw.

    This Grecav seems decently engineered for what it is, I must say. Better than the original DAF in every way except for a bit of oomph and two tiny back seats. The safety tests seem good from the pictures they show, although the claim that alloy is better than steel at crash absorption may cause the mainstream vehicle manufacturers to wonder why they go to all the trouble of speccing various high-strength steels in their safety cages – if only they’d known that Grecav had already aced that area of vehicle engineering they could have saved billions, I tell you. Then you remember the overweight Jaguar XE and its tiny doors – it weighs about 130 kg more than the equivalent BMW 3 series both with six cylinder engines, and the F-Pace is definitely tubby compared to a Porsche. Hmm.

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