Myth Buster – Was the Frisky re­ally the UK’s first bub­ble car?

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK -

1 IT WAS BASED ON AN EGYP­TIAN PROJECT

The idea for a small bub­ble car came from one Cap­tain Ray­mond Flower, who ran the Cairo Mo­tor Com­pany. He con­ceived a small, ba­sic car, the Phoenix, to be built in Egypt, but had to leave the coun­try in the wake of the Suez Cri­sis. Back in the UK in 1956, he ap­proached Henry Mead­ows Ltd. with his plan, which con­sisted of ideas rather than a fully-fledged project. When The Bug – the Mead­ows Frisky pro­to­type – was shown to the press in De­cem­ber 1956, the press dubbed it the Phoenix, even though it wasn’t.

2 MICHELOTTI DE­SIGNED IT

The orig­i­nal Bug pro­to­type was cre­ated by en­gi­neers Gor­don Bed­son and Keith Peck­more; it wasn’t the pret­ti­est of ba­bies, so Vig­nale was ap­proached to come up with an al­ter­na­tive de­sign. The task fell to Gio­vanni Michelotti, who birthed a gull­wing-doored cre­ation. As stylish as it was, it proved too ex­pen­sive to make, so Michelotti pre­sented a few more sketches. The FriskyS­port that re­sulted, how­ever, was mainly the work of a Gor­don Bed­son, who fur­ther re­designed the car as a soft-top with con­ven­tional doors. The later still­born FriskySprint sports rac­ing pro­to­type (and Zeta Sport) is also widely at­trib­uted to Michelotti, but there’s no con­nec­tion at all.

3 IT WAS BRITAIN’S FIRST BUB­BLE CAR

The Frisky has been la­belled the UK’s first bub­ble car. This is tech­ni­cally true, al­though Isetta of Great Britain be­gan mak­ing Isetta 300s in Brighton un­der li­cence from BMW in 1957. The fully en­closed Mead­ows Frisky Coupé en­tered pro­duc­tion in Au­gust 1958. It wasn’t the first bub­ble car to ac­tu­ally be built in Britain, but it was the first that orig­i­nated here. Richard Gunn

MEAD­OWS FRISKY

Frisky Coupé re­ally was the first bub­ble­car to orig­i­nate in the UK.

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