For some reason, this topic is actually very interesting to me. Funny too. Not only would you learn about the smallest car engines in history, but you will also have a good laugh while you’re at it.
Why exactly would a company decide to build a car and put in a teensy weensy little engine? Why would they even want to try? What could possibly motivate them? Perhaps it has to do with taxes. Yep, that is probably it! It turns out some countries give tax advantages to companies that are able to make their cars small and light. This is good for the economy as a whole because it allows companies to save on fuel and other transportation costs. In some cases, they can even avoid paying income tax altogether because they don’t have employees driving all over the place. It’s kind of a genius idea if you ask me.
Okay, let us get down to business here. I’m sure you want to know all about the cars with the smallest car engines ever made. So let’s get started! In this article, our analysis would be in descending order. That is, the list of the smallest car engines would have the smallest car engine as the last item and the first item is relatively larger in size, but still small.
Smallest Car Engines in History
1. Clan Crusader
The Clan Crusader was a small two-door sports coupé built by British Motor Corporation between 1966 and 1969. It was produced from 1966 to 1969 with around 7,000 units produced in total. It had a top speed of about 100 mph and a displacement of 875cc, which was quite impressive for its time! Initially the clan crusader had a bhp of 51 but it eventually got upgraded to a 100 bhp in later models.
2. VW XL1
The second car with a smll car engine is the Volkswagen XL1. This is super tiny at just 254 inches long and weighs only 930 pounds! With a displacement of 800cc, this car can do speeds up to 99 mph while getting up to an impressive 84 mpg! It has got a 27bhp electric motor and a drag coefficient off 0.186.
3. Austin 7 – 696cc – 747cc
Originally produced in 1922, the Austin Seven saloon has a history as long as the British Empire itself. It was originally marketed as an affordable vehicle that could be afforded by the average person. After the second world war era, the company decided to upgrade the car engine and the engine capacity was increased from 348cc to 695cc in 1924. After which they became kniwn for sporting specials.
4. Caterham Seven 160 – 660cc
The Caterham seven is a tiny roadster that was designed and built by a man named “Robin” cook in 1957. It was designed to be very light so that it could be powered by a lightweight motorcycle engine of the same displacement. Later, they upgraded it to one with a slightly larger engine Capacity and length. Around that time they decided to market it as a kit car and anyone could make and build their own one at home.
5. Suzuki Cappuccino – 657cc
Next on the list of smallest car engines in history, Suzuki Cappuccino. Although the Suzuki is a really small car engine with a displacement as low as 657cc, it still managed to produce a maximum power output of around 56 bhp, which is pretty good for a really small car engine! It also has a top speed of around 115mph, which is pretty good considering the very small size of the car engine!
6. Tata Nano – 624cc
The Tata Nano is a car with a really small engine capacity of just 624cc! That engine powers a car that is really small at just 3 meters long and weighing under 700 pounds! It has a maximum power output of about 33bhp! It also produces a fairly decent fuel economy of around 35mpg! Not bad at all considering its relatively small size!
7. Smart Fortwo – 599cc
The smart fortwo is an electric car that has a very small engine with a diameter of just 54mm! The engine actually only has a single cylinder and it is only able to drive the car at a maximum speed of around 68mph and can get from 0-60 in just 12 seconds! Production of the smart fortwo was discontinued due to high running costs and low sales of the car but it definitely deserves a place in the list of small engines that produce amazing power despite being so tiny!
8. NSU Wankel Spider – 497cc
The NSU Wankel Spider was a product of Richard Nebenzal who was an executive at BMW where he managed the motorsport department. He decided to build a sports car on his own after he left BMW and started a company called NSU which would later build the NSU Wankel Spider and the well known NSU Ro80! The NSU Wankel Spider was the worlds first mass produced rotary powered car and it had a displacement of only 497cc! It had amazing performance figures when it was launched and could even reach speeds of over 99mph on a normal road! Not bad for a car with a displacement of less than 500cc!
9. Fiat500 Nuova – 479c
The fiat500 Nuova is one of the cars with the smallest car engines ever. It was released in 2008 and was the first of the 500 family to come with the “sport” version which included the more powerful twin turbo diesel engine, leather interior and Sport mode which allowed the engine to deliver more power when pressed harder on the accelerator pedal! This particular version of the car has an engine capacity of just 479cc and produces a top power output of around 100bhp which is really impressive considering how small the engine is. Its fuel economy is also great at around 50mpg which is great considering the small size of the engine.
10. Citroen 2CV – 375cc
The Citroen 2CV is a small car engine that was first produced in 1948. Its original purpose was to be used on the battlefields of France during World War II. However, the war ended before the 2CV was put into production. It was finally produced as a civilian vehicle in 1949. The name “2CV” stands for two chamber or deux chambres in French, which means “two chambers.” The Citroen 2cv has an engine capacity of 375cc and can reach speeds of 70 miles per hour.
11. Subaru 360 – 356cc
The Subaru 360 is a passenger car first produced in 1958. It has an engine capacity of 356cc. It is classified as one of the smallest car engines and can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. Its main competitor is the Fiat 500L.
12. Honda N360 – 354cc
Another car engine that made it to the list of the smallest car engines in history is the Honda N360. The engine size of the Honda N360 is 354cc. It was first produced in 1959 and has a series of three versions. Its last version was produced from 2000 to 2003. The N360 was known for its simplicity and low cost of ownership. It received a four-star safety rating from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2011. It was the first Japanese-made vehicle to be exported to the U.S. It is considered a small car engine and can attain speeds of up to 70 miles per hour.
13. Berkeley SE322 – 322cc
The Berkeley SE322 is a small car engine made by Berkeley Engine Company in the early 1940s. It weighed less than 700 pounds and had a single-cylinder four-stroke engine with an overhead valve configuration. This engine reached speeds of up to 90 miles per hour and was used by many automotive manufacturers to build cars during the 1940s and 1950s.
14. Isetta – 245cc
The Isetta is a small car engine manufactured by the Volkswagen Company between 1953 and 1962. It has a maximum capacity of 245cc and a maximum power of 25 horsepower. This makes it the smallest car engine ever produced by the company. It is also the only car engine produced by the company that is not powered by an internal combustion engine. The Isetta is known for its unique and innovative design and construction.
15. Heinkel Cabin Cruiser – 250cc
The Heinkel Cabin Cruiser is a small car engine manufactured by the Heinkel Motor Company between 1931 and 1939. It has a maximum capacity of 250cc and a maximum power of 8 horsepower. It was used as a passenger car and for commercial and military purposes.
16. Messerschmitt KR175 – 173cc
The Messerschmitt KR175 is a small two-stroke micro-car produced by Messerschmitt in Germany from 1950 to 1964. It features a single-cylinder engine with an overhead valve and four-speed transmission. The chassis is built from stamped steel and features independent suspension at all four wheels. The body of the KR175 is made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic and has a distinctive sloping nose which is said to be reminiscent of a shark’s nose!
17. Bond minicar – 122cc
The Bond Minicar is a British microcar manufactured from 1964 to 1969 and was the first British car to be manufactured entirely in-house by a company other than the British Motor Corporation (BMC). It features an air-cooled flat twin-cylinder engine with a single overhead camshaft and a 4-speed gearbox.
18. Peel P50 – 49cc
Last on our list of the smallest car engines in history, we have the Peel P50. The Peel P50 is a rear-engined microcar built by Peel Engineering in 1956. The car had a top speed of 70 miles per hour and had a 49cc two-stroke engine, making it the smallest commercially available production vehicle in the UK at the time. It was available in both an open-topped roadster and an enclosed saloon version.