Lot 202

Monterey 2023

1959 Frisky Convertible Special

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$84,000 USD | Sold

United States Flag | Monterey, California

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language
Chassis No.
020182
Documents
Canadian Registration
  • A rare and well-engineered English microcar
  • Wears styling penned by Giovanni Michelotti
  • Powered by a 197-cc two-stroke, single-cylinder Villiers engine
  • Based on the three-wheeled Frisky Family Three
  • Skillfully transformed into a convertible under prior ownership

While many microcars developed in the years following Word War II were expedient, frugal machines that paid little mind to style or comfort, some enterprising individuals saw room in the market for small cars that were well-engineered, affordable, and attractive.

Captain Raymond Flower, an Englishman and former racing driver, was one such individual. Flower, along with his two brothers and a design engineer from Kieft Cars, Gordon Bedson, were involved in several automotive projects under the name of Phoenix in Cairo, Egypt. These came to naught with the overthrow of King Farouk and the resulting Suez Crisis, so the brothers returned to England. Their idea of a small, economical car took root with the established firm of Henry Meadows (Vehicles) Ltd.

In 1956, Bedson worked with the Meadows designer to create a prototype car nicknamed the Bug, which sported unconventional styling complete with gullwing doors. Meanwhile, the great Giovanni Michelotti at Vignale was tasked with designing a production version; although this car, dubbed the Frisky when it debuted at the 1957 Geneva Motor Show, proved too costly for mass production due to features like gullwing doors, Michelotti’s attractive lines would define all Frisky models built thereafter.

Production of the Friskysport convertible began in spring 1958. This microcar rode on four wheels and was powered by a two-cylinder two-stroke Villiers motorcycle engine with a four-speed gearbox, with reverse provided by a Dynastart starter motor. Despite a change of ownership in late 1958, the newly christened Frisky Cars, Ltd. developed a four-wheeled coupe as well as a three-wheel closed-roof model, the Frisky Family Three. The Family Three, which became available in January 1959, was powered by a single-cylinder, 197-cubic-centimeter Villiers engine with four-speeds and reverse; its reverse-tricycle configuration enabled it to be driven by on a motorcycle license.

The car offered here began as a Family Three coupe that was cleverly transformed into a three-wheeled convertible—a model never offered by Frisky, but an intriguing “what if”—under previous ownership. “FriskySport” badging borrowed from an earlier four-wheeled convertible shows close attention to detail, while the cheerful sky-blue exterior paint adds to the charming overall appearance.

After several attempts at corporation reorganization, Frisky went out of business in 1961. In all its incarnations, Frisky is believed to have built 1,500 vehicles; according to the Frisky Register, only 75 of all types are known to exist today, making survivors as uncommon as they are endearing. This Frisky’s artfully executed convertible conversion adds a unique dimension to the already-rare model, making for a fascinating conversation piece and a fun, unusual addition to a garage…of any size!