Jonathan Gitlin

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Our automotive coverage at Ars Technica is—as one might expect—focused heavily on new technologies like autonomous cars and alternative powertrains.

These fields of research and development have the potential to save lives (by reducing accidents) and the planet (through decreased carbon emissions).

But a recent visit to the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville involved a trip outside this comfort zone, back in time to the era of the microcar.

These little vehicles were a product of their environments; postwar Europe and Japan, where raw materials like steel, rubber, and fuel were in short supply, and when drivers had much less disposable income to spend.
The vehicles that emerged over the subsequent decades were certainly a step up from motorized scooters, although, in some cases, not by a very large margin.

But a day spent hopping in and out of different makes and models—driving them on the museum grounds, on the public road, and at Fairgrounds Nashville Speedway—was both informative and wonderfully refreshing compared to our normal diet of driving brand new cars.
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