The little Bamby: small, yellow & over 100 MPG!
Next time you visit look up to the rafters to see this minature marvel in yellow. The tiny Bamby microcar was born in the 1980s but destined never to be a very big hit. You can see one of the few surviving examples in our collection.
The Bamby microcar was designed to be small and economical and to be used in busy cities. They were only produced between 1983 and 1985 by a company in Hull. The founder, Alan Evans, decided to create a modern equivalent of the older Peel P50 microcar which had been made in the early Sixties. You can also see a rare example of a Peel P50 at the museum.
The early Bamby, like the one here at the museum, had a single headlamp, handlebars to steer with and a 49cc Minarelli engine. They also had a rather swish gullwing door.
Later models had twin headlamps, a conventional door and a Yamaha engine. The top speed of this tiny three-wheeler was reported to be around 20 mph.
It wasn’t cheap. In the adverts, the asking price was 1,387 pounds. That was the equivalent of over 4000 pounds in today’s money. And that meant its target market, which was said to be housewives and 16-year-olds, couldn’t afford it – so few were ever sold. It’s estimated that only around 50 were ever produced.
So, what did you get for your 1,387 pounds? Well, the Bamby had a rust-free body and floor and automatic gears and clutch. Manufacturers claimed you would get over a hundred miles to the gallon and road tax was only eight pounds a year (the first year’s road tax was thrown in with the purchase price).
Any road licence covered you to drive it and you only had to be 16 years old. The adverts described it as: “The exciting and economical new runabout car for any occasion and anyone.” The museum’s Bamby appeared in an advert which tried to market the vehicle – in Hungary. Rather disappointingly – this tiny little vehicle never became as big as had been hoped. But it’s quirky charm has made it a popular exhibit at the Lakeland Motor Museum.