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Small Cars

After World War II there was a new automotive revolution. Most soldiers posted overseas had experienced long-distance travel for the first time. On their return home they wanted to be mobile and take their families much farther afield than their fathers had been able to. To meet this demand. manufacturers around the world strove to develop cars for the masses, many of which went on to sell by the million.

Morris Eight Series E, 1938


Engine918 cc, straight-four
Top speed58 mph (93 km/h)

A pre-war model just modern enough in looks to continue in production post-war, the Series E Morris sold well until the new Morris Minor was ready to take over.

Morris Minor, 1948


Engine918 cc, straight-four
Top speed62 mph (100 km/h)

Alec Issigonis’s brilliant people’s car had a monocoque construction, torsion-bar front suspension, four gears, and modern lines—but not the flat-four engine he had wanted

Volkswagen, 1945


Engine1,131 cc, flat-four
Top speed63 mph (101 km/h)

Designed by Ferdinand Porsche before the war, the “Beetle” would eventually become the best-selling car of all time, thanks to its reliable engine, good space, and low price.

MG Y-type, 1947


Engine1,250 cc, straight-four
Top speed71 mph (114 km/h)

MG lengthened its little TC sports car chassis and added pre-war Morris Eight body panels to create this antiquated but charming sedan, which sold 6,158 from 1947 to 1951.

Toyota Model SA, 1947


Engine995 cc, straight-four
Top speed58 mph (93 km/h)

Japan’s first new post-war model, the SA mimicked many features of Volkswagen’s Beetle, although its Ford-like engine was mounted at the front rather than the rear.

Ford Taunus G93A, 1948


Engine1,172 cc, straight-four
Top speed60 mph (97 km/h)

This German version of Britain’s E93A Ford Prefect had much more modern styling than its counterpart, but it was exactly the same beneath the hood.

Standard 8HP, 1945


Engine1,009 cc, straight-four
Top speed60 mph (97 km/h)

Standard rushed its pre-war Eight back into production in 1945, having improved it with a four-speed gearbox. A competent if unexciting car, it sold 53,099 in three years.

Bond Minicar, 1948


Engine122 cc, one-cylinder
Top speed38 mph (61 km/h)

Gasoline rationing and cheap tax for three-wheelers made this two-seater ideal for the austerity of post-war Britain. The two-stroke engine pivoted with the car’s front wheel.

Datsun DB, 1948


Engine722 cc, straight-four
Top speed50 mph (80 km/h)

With styling copied from the U.S.-built Crosley, this was Japan’s first modern-looking car. The DB used a pre-war Datsun truck chassis and a side-valve car engine.

Crosley, 1948


Engine721 cc, straight-four
Top speed70 mph (113 km/h)

The slab-sided Crosley showed great promise with its unique sheet-steel, overhead-camshaft engine, but it failed to win over the US car-buying public.

Citroën 2CV, 1948


Engine375 cc, flat-two
Top speed39 mph (63 km/h)

Derived from a 1930s plan to develop a car to replace the horse and cart in rural France, the 2CV became a favorite in both town and country. The 2CV’s crude looks belied its high-quality, innovative engineering

Fiat 500C, 1949


Engine569 cc, straight-four
Top speed60 mph (97 km/h)

This was the final version of Dante Giacosa’s brilliant 1937 “Topolino” (Little Mouse), which mobilized the population of Italy with its well-packaged conventional layout

Renault 4CV, 1946


Engine760 cc, straight-four
Top speed57 mph (92 km/h)

The 4CV looked similar to its British rival, the Morris Minor, but it had all-independent suspension and a rear-mounted engine; it was also quicker to reach a million sales.

Austin A40 Devon, 1947


Engine1,200 cc, straight-four
Top speed67 mph (108 km/h)

Origin UK

Engine 1,200 cc, straight-four

Top speed 67 mph (108 km/h)

Modelled on a pre-war Chevrolet, Austin’s first post-war design was slightly awkward and bulbous-looking, but it sold well thanks to its new overhead-valve engine.

Panhard Dyna 110, 1948


Engine610 cc, flat-two
Top speed68 mph (109 km/h)

Designed by Jean Albert Grégoire, the Dyna 110 had an aluminum structure, an air-cooled aluminum engine, front-wheel drive, and independent suspension.

Saab 92, 1949


Engine764 cc, straight-two
Top speed65 mph (105 km/h)

Aircraft maker Saab gave its 92 the most aerodynamic styling of the time, along with front-wheel drive and a two-stroke engine. The 92 proved a very successful rally car.


It is a quote. The Definitive Visual History Of The Automobile 2011

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