There’s very little that I like more than finding out about cars I’ve never heard of before. It’s like a drug—there’s that rush, that intense thrill of confusion and discovery, and your tolerance increases, making that next thrill harder and harder to find. That’s why I’m so thankful that one of our readers, Eduardo, found this wonderful Argentinian fix for me today: the Dinarg D-200.
Though the name sounds like it may be Klingon or some shit, the car is very Argentinian, with the name coming from Dinámica INdustrial ARGentina, the company established by a group of industrialists and engineers in 1959 to supply Argentina with a viable, domestically-built cheap, economical little car.
And boy, did they do that. The Dinarg D-200 is, despite its hilarious, awkward, and adorable fetal-hippo looks, a pretty decent microcar design solution. Interestingly, it’s a traditional three-box design, just with the proportions aggressively cartoonized, with tiny wheels and a surprisingly high beltline.
Some attempt was made to give the car a bit of style as well. It’s not just a utilitarian box, there’s chrome bumpers and rakish little air intakes at the rear quarter panels, and the pontoon-fender design echoes many other full-sized cars of the period. There’s even a little pair of fake grilles up front that sort of resemble a dashing moustache.
The car sort of reminds me of a Volkswagen Type 3 notchback that was subjected to a shrink-ray, which turned it into a Gogomobil 250, and then that Gogomobil was shrink-ray’d itself, which would have enshrinkened the car into the Dinarg D-200.
So, if you’ve always liked Gogomobils but really wanted to do without all that excess bulk, the D-200 was the car for you.
Incredibly, through the suicide doors of a D-200 you’d find not just front seats, but back seats, too, though those really could have been only suitable for the usual quintet of kids, pets, contortionists, amputees, or luggage. But it’s there! The front ‘hood’ area appears to be entirely occupied with pedals, wheels, and human legs, so the area behind the seats is the primary cargo section of the car, really, but contemporary reviews mention decent-sized door pockets as well.
The little gaucho is powered by a two-stroke Sachs 191cc engine making an earth-rending 10.2 horsepower. In the context of microcars, that’s actually pretty decent, especially when you consider that a much larger Citroën 2CV of the same year was only making 12 HP.
Surprisingly, the D-200 had a four-speed sequential (read motorcycle-style) gearbox, with fourth being an overdrive. As a two-stroke, the engine could be restarted in backwards for reverse, giving four reverse gears.
I’d like to point out that in the machine-translated review of the car from the July 1963 issue of Parabrisas, “It’s Not Beautiful But It’s Nice,” there is this:
What the hell is a “very jealous clutch?” It comes up again in the body of the article, in this spectacular sentence:
“The clutch is very jealous, although it is soft and soft.”
I can’t wait to figure out what the hell this means so I can plagiarize that sentence, word-for-poorly-translated-word, in my next new car review.
The review is remarkably thorough, and it generally positive— they say the car handles pretty well, can be driven flat out pretty much all the time, and, interestingly, has a turn indicator system that cancels the blinker via a clockwork mechanism that runs for 30 seconds instead of relying on the wheel returning to center, like most cars. That’s fascinating, in the best kind of mundane way.
It seems about 300 were built and sold, though some sources say 200. Based on the surprising number of YouTube videos of people’s cars, I’m inclined to think the higher number is true.
...and it looks like they’ve been featured on Argentinian TV:
...and here’s one for sale! And another.
It’s an absolutely charming little car, and I think we’re all better people now that we know about it.