Join me in a bit of daydreaming, would you? Look at that car up there. That little motorized frog-looking thing. Now picture yourself pulling up to some swanky club and throwing the keys to that to the valet. Maybe I'm nuts, but to me that would be even better than tossing the keys to a new 911 or whatever.
That little kook up there is a 1955 Grataloup. It's a one-off, and in some ways the best kind of one-off: it was built by the clever and talented Monsieur Grataloup near Lourdes, France, and used as his daily driver. The guy had an idea for his own car, he actually built it, and then used it, every day. That's the dream, right there.
It's surprisingly well put-together, especially when you realize it was built by one guy in his garage. it uses a mid/side-mounted Villiers Mark IX 1-cyl., 2-stroke engine from a BSA motorcycle, which makes all of 7.5 HP. There's a separate gearbox, driven by a chain, from a René Gillet motorcycle, the clutch is connected via three belts, and the final drive to the rear wheel is by chain as well.
It's hard to get a sense of the size of the car from these pictures, but it looks to be the sort of car you wriggle in and sort of wear, like an oversized body-shoe. There is a hood opening, which may allow for some storage, but could equally well be an access panel for your valet to tie or shine your shoes while you're still inside the car.
I bet this thing is a blast to drive, and even if it's undoubtedly slow, I bet 25 in this feels like 80. It was just up for auction earlier this year (part of the Weiner Microcar Museum sale — these pics are from RM Auctions) and went for a pretty reasonable $34,500. Well, reasonable when you consider that it's a one-of-a-kind charmer, not when you compare it to, say, a low-end Lexus.
But I sure as hell know what I'd rather drive.