The cartoonish Volugrafo “Bimbo 46”

Although it looks like it just jumped off the pages of a comic book, the Volugrafo “Bimbo 46” wasn’t drawn by a cartoonist. It was one of the vehicles designed after the Second World War to meet the needs of the many people who yearned for movement, but couldn’t afford much.

Seeing a photo of it, at first you may think it was a scale model or toy. You might expect Donald Duck and his nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie, to get in and drive off. In fact, this is a real car, designed by engineer Claudio Belmondo and made by Turin’s Officine meccaniche Volugrafo in 1946.

The small car, fitted with a 125cc four-stroke engine, has no doors and no reverse (when needed, you get out and maneuver the car – small, but by no means light at 125 kilograms – by sheer muscle power).

Only two meters long, it has two seats, four pedals – brake, accelerator, clutch, and ignition –, stick shift at the driver’s left, one driving wheel, and chain drive.

Instead of shock absorbers, it uses simple leaf springs to make bumpy rides slightly more comfortable.

And it makes for an unexpected and fun sight when it jogs along a country road… like a cartoon.

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