Microcars at Powerhouse Museum

Fri 5th November, 2021 – Sun 7th August, 2022
Powerhouse Museum
500 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW
Small cars make a big impact at this Powerhouse exhibition celebrating the microcar.

If you lived in Australia and had a television in the early 1990s, chances are you’ll recall this Yellow Pages ad in which Tommy Dysart (AKA Jock Stewart from Prisoner) calls a series of mechanics about his beloved Goggomobil car. The iconic ad is just one of the many ways the microcar has been etched into Australia’s collective memory, with a lasting cultural impact entirely disproportionate to its humble size.

Microcars is a new Powerhouse Museum exhibition paying tribute to the diminutive microcar, showcasing a series of microcars sourced from both the museum’s own collection and notable Australian collectors. Hitting their peak just after the Second World War – when German and Italian factories pivoted from military aircraft to economical cars – microcars were popularised by Messerschmitt, BMW, Heinkel and Lambretta, and defined by their scooter engines and super-light bodies. All over the world the microcar trend took hold, with the Goggomobil Dart and the Zeta Runabout fast becoming favourites in Australia.

Featuring 13 manufacturers and 17 cars from seven countries, the Microcars exhibition includes a Messerschmitt KR200 “bubble car”, favoured by Elvis Presley (and featured in Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis biopic); a three-wheeled Scootacar Mark III; a Goggomobil Dart; and the Zeta Runabout, made in South Australia and designed by engineer and entrepreneur Harold Lightburn in 1964.

Microcars also takes a look at contemporary electric and hybrid microcars such as the Renault Twizzy and the Smartcar, now experiencing a resurgence in popularity due to the environmental impacts of larger petrol engine vehicles.

More details. Entry is free.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Powerhouse Museum.