Some vehicles have become quite alien to us.
Not because they're particularly interesting or innovative, but because they've become quite rare.
As time marches on, it slowly takes the vehicles we love from us and gradually drives a wedge between the people that made the cars originally and those who now own them.
This may seem inconsequential, but if everyone involved in making a car is gone, you better hope a certain amount of information has stayed behind—schematics, tools, parts, body moulds, etc.
Otherwise, if you don't know how to fix something it doesn't get fixed. If a part breaks and there are no replacements…
I admire those who keep the information on a vehicle alive. It may not keep their cars running, but it's an essential component to owning a rare car, like the Meadows Friskysport.
The idea for the Frisky car line was simple: small, economical, mass-produced car for "everyman"—not unlike what former Formula 1 and McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray is doing with his new "iStream" production line and range of vehicle concepts.
These ideas of an everyman car infiltrated the employees at Meadows, then a supplier of engines and components. A few members of the Meadows staff had come from other small British automakers and were eager to get started on this car for the masses.
Their first design, a small microcar with gullwing doors called The Bug, was being developed to debut at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show in March but after adding up the bills it was clear that the Michelotti-designed and Vignale-made car would be too expensive to sell for their quoted "under £400" price—about £10,000 today.
For those of us in the new world, that's $16,800 Usd. and $18,400 here in Canada. Money didn't go very far in those days…
With The Bug too expensive, work began on a completely redesigned version, the open roof Meadows Frisky—to make its debut just seven months later at the Earls Court Motor Show in October 1957.
People loved it. With a small 324cc (19.8 cu in) Villiers engine, open roof, and cheeky styling that resembled a squished "normal" car.
After a few management shuffles and ownership changes (Meadows was dropped, the company becoming known as, simply, "Frisky"), the Frisky was on sale by 1959.
Now called FriskySport, it joined a small range of very similar cars: FriskySprint, Frisky Coupe, and Frisky Family Three (not kidding.)
You can tell an early FriskySport by its detachable rear section, and a number were exported to the United States in left hand drive—rare today and some of the most valuable of all Frisky models.
I wish that I could say it was fitted with all sorts of innovative features, but sadly I've counted only three switches, four lights, and one speedometer on its dashboard.
With its small rear-mounted engine, you may not believe that it'd hit—apparently—104 km/h (65 mph) and still manage 4.7 L/100 km (50 US mpg), though not likely at the same time.
Today, the surviving 75 or so of all Frisky models made are supported by an active group of enthusiasts determined to keep the memory of Frisky alive. There are roughly 12 FriskySports still around.
Even though the original company went through ownership changes faster than I go through socks—and the planned expansion into, of all places, Egypt, failed—it seems that history has been more kind to the FriskySport since production ended.