Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!  

American cars of the 1970s were remarkable for undesirability due to a lumbering presence and lack of build quality. Nice Price or Crack Pipe wants you to know that it could have been much, much worse.

Yesterday, 73% of you formed an alliance of hatred against the little Renault convertible that never did anything to you. Today, in the parlance of Steve Martin, we're prepared to get small.

Back in 1973, Lou Reed recorded one of the most depressing albums of his storied career with Berlin. And while the eponym of that album's title has never been considered a mecca of automobile manufacture, it was the home to a car that would put a smile on the face of even the dour but talented former Velvet Underground guitarist. The AWS Shopper Piccolo was built between 1971 and the company's predestined demise in 1974. Designed by Walter Schätzle in 1970, the Picccolo was evidently intended to give East German defectors - used to driving Trabants - something to ease their transition to the West.

Like the Trabi, the Piccolo uses a two-stroke engine of socialistic displacement. The 293cc twin produces a newborn kitten-weak 15bhp, and even with the car tipping the scales at a bantam 947lbs, that's still a monumental 63 pounds each pony has to drag around. The car was built around a square-tube frame connected by L brackets and topped by a platicized metal body with fewer curves than Franka Potente for easy assembly and theft deterrence. Mechanically the Glas-sourced twin is backed up by a 4-speed manual gearbox, which, like much of the rest of the running gear, was pure Goggomobil, and the whole thing is claimed to have a top speed of 55 mph. No claim is made however, for the average speed getting back up that hill. Once up there though, you can appreciate the angular four-passenger body; black masking tape delineated doors; pipe-insulation bumpers; and tires that appear to have been made by Dunkin Donuts.

The question is, what could you do with this car? Well, road trips are pretty much ruled out. But should you have a remarkably long driveway, it would make getting the mail more enjoyable during inclement weather. The Shopper would also be the perfect car for a Shriner. Or, with a polka-dots and rainbows paint job, it could fit you and 30 or so of your friends, should your vocation lean towards clown. Whatever you choose, it's old enough that you should be able to get it licensed in the U.S. without getting too much hassle from the man.


So, 2 strokes, 4 tires, 15 horses and $4,750. Does that price seem fair considering that you're getting. . . so little? Or is that Crack Pipe Alexanderplatz?

You decide!


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