1950’s Hungarian Microcars: The Alba

Submitted by Markydoodle January 3rd, 2011
Certifikitsch Winner

The microcar was spawned in Hungary in the 1950’s when Communist Moscow threw down the edict that Hungary would not be producing automobiles. This even though they already had existing means in the form of factories for trucks and motorcycles to do so. The loophole found in Budapest was microcars: made from motorcycle engines, and in the case of the alba, with airplane wheels and tires. These post-war years of austerity and shortages turned out to be the golden age of the microcar across Europe

This is the Alba Regia. Room for two passengers in the front, and two children in the back.

This is the Alba Balaton. Check out the door mechanism. Ingress/Egress was accomplished by sliding the roof/doors back to create an opening like an aircraft of the day.

My favorite thing about these? Both cars were rear-engined, with a “reverse gear.” In order to go backwards, the driver stopped the engine and pushed a button, at which point the engine itself went backwards!

5 Responses to “1950’s Hungarian Microcars: The Alba”

  1. Allee Willis

    Can’t believe I’ve never seen one of these before. I love how boxy it is, yet completely unlike other more boring boxy cars.

    I’m completely crazy about the way the roof and doors slide back on the Balaton. Though it doesn’t seem very practical given the amount of snow and rain in that part of the world. I love that sloped hood too.

    Have they made any microcars since the 1950s?

    Ooh, I’d love one of these!!!

    • Mark Milligan

      To me they look like the inspiration for some of the cars in the 2006 animated movie “Cars.”

      I think what happened is that they were made so cheaply, motorcycle engines, aluminum bodies, that they were in most cases re-purposed, or parted-out for salvage.

      It just occurs to me how much the Isetta from that earlier post looks like an airplane cockpit.

      Finally, I think the irony of this era of Eastern Europe, with it’s golden-era of microcars, may be the origin of where we’re bound to be headed long term for autos. Those boxy cars you are referring to will look silly compared to the fantastic designs for small cars we’ll be seeing shortly. How about the idea of designer cars? You design it online, order it, and within the parameters of the engineering, i.e., the safety, strength, and speed considerations, they deliver a vehicle of your design.

  2. denny

    I can’t believe this. I’m totally breaking out into a sweat! You jus t know some of these cars are sitting in garages somewhere. I’d be one happy guy with one of these cars.