Car of 1959 Sput­nik

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - The Way We Were -

Around this time, a tiny bright or­ange car was of­ten to be glimpsed on the roads around Long­bridge, usu­ally at night and in­vari­ably trav­el­ling at phe­nom­e­nal speeds, of­ten with a tall, schol­arly chap be­hind the wheel. The driver’s name was Alec Is­sigo­nis and the car was nick­named ‘Sput­nik’, a nod to its glob­u­lar shape which echoed that of the var­i­ous bits of Rus­sian space hard­ware that had been or­bit­ing the Earth since 1957.

Fol­low­ing his tri­umph with the Mor­ris Mi­nor, de­signer Is­sigo­nis had been spurred to come up with a more in­tel­li­gent al­ter­na­tive to the bub­ble­cars that were all the rage dur­ing the 1956 Suez cri­sis and re­sult­ing fuel short­ages. As de­tails of the ‘Sput­nik’ leaked, even those in the know had their doubts. The tiny 10in wheels were crazy (the Mi­nor’s 13in rims had been bad enough) and were get­ting through tyres ev­ery 2000 miles. The rear brakes kept lock­ing be­cause there was so lit­tle weight at the back. And it looked odd.

Three months af­ter our main photo was taken, the ‘Sput­nik’ was launched as the Mor­ris Mini-Mi­nor and Austin Se7en. Time for all those doubt­ing ‘ex­perts’ to think again.

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