Tiny And Rare Classic: 1938 Ihle

1938 Ihle

As of this morning, I had never heard of a Ihle. I’ve seen many bumper cars and amusement park rides, but I had never given much thought to the history behind them or any of the companies involved with their creation. That was until I stumbled across this tiny 1938 Ihle here on eBay in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. The German brand Ihle actually has quite the amazing history, starting out with building beautiful custom bodies for BMW Dixies, some even say they were the first to incorporate the kidney grille design that would become BMW’s signature look. They went on to build all kinds of cars, including mini cars for amusement rides.

1938 Ihle Microcar


I haven’t been able to find much detailed information about Ihle or any mention of this particular model, then again I don’t even know what model it is. I have been able to find a few photos of other examples and I think it’s safe to assume this one was an amusement ride. It originally would have had a bump guard that wrapped around the car, you can still see the mounts on each side of the car below the door openings. While it definitely was not designed for street use, it does have a 2 speed transmission (I assume one forward gear and reverse). Anyone here know for sure?

Rather than just post a boring photo of a nice Ihle, I found a great video of a father/son duo driving a beautiful example. It looks to be the same model and actually looks quite fun to drive!

1938 Ihle Engine

Power comes from a single cylinder Hirth motor. The seller doesn’t offer any information about the motor and I can’t tell which model it is. Hirth still builds small engines, including a similar appearing but modernized single cylinder engine with 15 horsepower. I doubt the original engine produces anywhere near that much power, but you could always get a modern Hirth engine for a nice boost in power. You might even be able to install the mighty F33 and have 28 horsepower on tap!

1938 Gebr Ihle

This really is an unusual find and I’m not exactly sure what one would do with it other than park it in your collection. I guess you could drive it in parades, on the golf course or around the neighborhood. The lack of lights, its size and lack of power would make it dangerous to drive anywhere near full sized cars. You could always drive it on sidewalks and in bicycle lanes! What do you think, could you turn it into a street going automobile or is this purely a display piece?


  1. RON

    i guess it depends on your skill level and interest. i don’t know but glad you found it and presented it. if it has 4 wheels and resembles a car i have an interest since 2 years old. if i could have been a picker i would either be a rich hoarder or a very rich recluse by this point in life. it is what dreams are made of rich or not

    • Dick Shappy

      I was recently lucky enough to find one of these here in Rhode Island and it appears to be the same body style as in the photo of this car. When I was a boy in the 1950’s I used to pay to ride in one of these in Roger Williams Park in Providence and believe that the one I just purchased actually came from there. Dick Shappy

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Dick Shappy,

        About 1999 a friend living in MD asked me to ride with him to RI to check out a Continental Mark II, and while there, he took me over to a guy with a waterfront home and a wonderful collection of pre-war Cadillacs. Don’t remember his name, but was wondering if it might have been you?

        Like 1
      • Dick Shappy

        Yes… that is me!! Still playin with my toys lol

      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member


        Nice to put a name to someone who opened up his lovely home and impressive car collection. So after you get the Ihle car restored, which Cadillac trunk do you think you’ll put it inside, in case the Caddy has a flat tire?

        Like 1
  2. ydnar

    Very cool find, it would be fun here at the ranch.

    What’s a “picker”?

    • grant

      A picker is someone who “picks” through barns and junk piles looking for odd, interesting or antique items to salvage for joy and/or profit.

      • ydnar

        Oh, I’m a part time picker then. Very part time. It’s a fun hobby.

  3. redwagon

    wow. 28hp in that would be a ton of fun. count me in.

    Like 1
  4. Francisco

    I think it’s pretty irresponsible to be letting two little kids drive this vehicle.

    • ydnar

      Could be, depends on their upbringing and experience. I’ve see 5 year olds drive a tractor better than me.

    • The other Jim S.

      …clutches pearls…

      Like 1
      • ydnar

        Lost me, again.

  5. Francisco

    You could lose your pearls in a tractor accident.

    • ydnar

      I must be real dense, or from another planet. I see so many posts here that make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

      Not yours Frankie!

      • Jason Houston

        “Pickers” is a new term coined by a TV show of the same name, that emulates two guys riding around the midwest snooping in old barns and buying stuff cheap from the old farmers, most of which is scripted. Now, everybody wants to be a “picker”. It’s the latest buzzword.

      • Rancho Bella

        ydnar……..brother, you need to get out more. Don’t despair, we will help you get hip. But, when you don’t get clutches pearls, I’m concerned. :)

        On the other hand. If’in you are on a ranch then you’re good with me.

      • ydnar

        Pics of the ranch

    • grant

      He’s being funny, mimicking an older woman clutching at her pearls in despair, or astonishment.

  6. Jacob

    We know where studebaker got the idea for their hood thingy on the champion.

    • Rick R

      Can’t enlarge the pic good enough to see, but it probably is a Studebaker “nose cone”. Used to see them a lot on amusement rides, in particular those fiberglass rocket ships on merry-go-rounds and the 25 cent rocket rides that were outside supermarkets.

      • Jason Houston

        Rick, it’s not from any Studebaker. It’s too small and too thick at the back. The ’50 Studebaker has a 4-point nose piece and the ’51 has a 3-point. This is a conglomeration of both, and if it were factually built in the 1930s, it would have been one hella coincidence. I’m more convinced the nose cone may have been added sometime in the 50’s, as a lot of those coin-op rides you pointed out did mimic 1950-51 Studebakers!

    • James

      See my comment toward bottom of page for appropriate links. These Ihle Schottenring cars were manufactured in 1954 – not pre-WWII. The ’50/’51 Studebaker design was also used on European manufactured pedal cars and toys in late ’50s, 1960.

      • Jason Houston

        That makes a lot more sense than the early 1930s.

  7. Jason Houston

    $17 Tall Ones? I don’t think so. There are more desirable pedal cars that can be bought in 100% restored condition for less than half that.

  8. John K

    I was very interested, until I saw the price.

  9. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    PASS! 17 large bills? Evidently the drug trade is still the predominant industry of this area of Mexico! Oh my word. It’s bad enough to see so many, many, many Murray pedal cars and amusement rides sold in antique stores for several hundred when they look like they have sat outside used as planters.


    • ydnar

      As Benjamin Franklin said, “a fool and his money”….

  10. Van

    This is one of the coolest non street legal cars I’ve seen in forever
    You guys should check out cycle karts
    Who needs to be a kid
    My dad would have never gone for anything like this
    If you add to much power to a toy you need a roll bar, big brakes, insurance, and more beer I mean bravery.

  11. Van

    I know a Roger rabbit mask
    Bingo snap

  12. rusty

    Now you have me excited..Some of you know I was into micro cars although I have mostly got out of them but I still have a micro car body [or ?] something along these lines a bit of a later shape more late 40’s early 50’s style sportscar..guards more part of the body.

    It was a good well constructed body missing running gear. The body was definately built by a body craftsman like this car. It was not possible to determine if micro car or fairground car.. it had things I considered micro car but others that didnt. but this one gives me hope in looking at any companies who manufactured both like this company..

    When i got it 20 years or so ago I had a bugger of a time finding out what it was. But this posting gives me more hope in chasing similar companies like the above.
    I did see a number of photos of actual micro cars [Aussie made] that resembled mine but were not an exact shape. Unfortunately photos can only show so much. These were not manufacturers car but usually small runs or one offs.

    Unfortunately I have no photos as its always been buried in my sheds but recently I moved and a friend put it into storage as I couldnt get up there.. I know “no photos , it never existed”..hee hee. Whether fairground or micro car mine is a well made steel body.

    Anyone know any other similar companies I should be googling???

    Love these off the wall listings .

  13. rusty

    check out Rytecraft Scootacar a British Take on this type of car..yes registerable

    there have been a few companies offering registerable submicro cars in the early days.


    I have actually had the pleasure of seeing a fully restored and registered one here in Australia

    • OttoNobedder

      @rusty Thanks for the link-good stuff!!

    • Joanne

      Hello Rusty, I am in Australia and own a Rytecraft scooter car. I am looking for other Rytecraft owners to connect with – do you know who the car belonged to or at least where I may be able to locate it? Thanks, Jo

      • rusty

        Hi Joanne

        Sorry I don’t as that was 30 years ago and I have dropped out of micro cars although i have just pulled that body I mentioned out of a 30 year slumber

  14. rusty

    heres an American registered submicro [as I am calling them…no such term exists]


  15. James

    Rather than the Ihle Schottenring car providing the idea for the ’50 Studebaker it’s the other way round. They were made in 1954 – not prewar – and there were two styles requiring only a nose section change. One Stude-ish and one more traditional.

    An example of the vertical grille (nose section) that was in the Microcar Museum:


    An amusement park car not a microcar as others have mentioned.

    • rusty

      Thanks James, have you any other info/links on amusement park cars/manufacturers, I’ve been googling but not much found.

      • James

        There are some great looking amusement park cars on the autotitre page 114. Check out the Alfas and possibly (?) coachbuilt Fiats three quarters down the page (just under the pic of Alfred Hitchcock’s go-kart) and the green and white Ford Vedette convertibles near the bottom of the page. The Ford thumbnails can be enlarged.


        The various pedals cars are also interesting. However, the Alfa and Fiat (?) racing cars driven by kids are fascinating. Haven’t seen another photo of either one.

        Apologies for the double post of comment. Did not show as reply @ 1:58 pm

  16. ydnar

    Thanks Rusty, Makes a person wonder what happened. These little cars should be the norm.

  17. James

    Here is the RM Sotheby’s 1954 Stude-ish nose section Ihle Schottenring car which sold for $12,650 at their Hershey auction in 2012:


    Good photo resolution so one can ascertain where the nose section secures to the body front. BTW there was also a postwar Italian pedal car that replicated a ’51 Studebaker, not only the nose, but also the fenders and headlamp configuration. It was manufactured by Giordani in 1960.

  18. Jason Houston

    I had one of these, albeit a bit larger. Someone called me and said there was a bar in West Los Angeles that had tried to raffle it, but got no bids. He gave them my name and said I’d probably come and haul it off. He said it was a 1950 Cadillac convertible that had once been on a kiddie-ride in Santa Monica’s Pacific Ocean Park! Excited, I drove all the way over to WLA, only to discover it was a kiddie-ride car all right, but it wouldn’t steer and, worse, it wasn’t even a Cadillac, but some generic thing with gold Cadillac V’s added to the hood and trunk.

    I really didn’t want it, but the bar owner was desperate to get rid of it, so I obliged.

    My next shock was this thing was so big, barely half of it would fit in the trunk of my 1960 Edsel. Worse, I had to go up Cahuenga Pass, a steep grade between West LA and San Fernando. It took three hours to get home in rush hour traffic with this big goofy thing sticking out of the back of my big goofy Edsel!

    Several years later, my folks got tired of looking at it in their back yard, so I gave it away to a good friend.

    Yeh, yeh, yeh, I know…!

    • rusty

      Hee Hee yep I guess we have all hauled home stuff that must have looked crazy to others in traffic..I hauled home a Goggomobil Coupe [before they were trendy] on a little trailer behind my little 1955 Morris Minor convertible [had 948cc motor at time] about a 3 hour trip too and having to come up the mountain range from Sydney’s South..

  19. Marty Member

    “Pickers” is not a new term, and it pre-dates the TV show by several decades.

    Like 1
    • Jason Houston

      On the west coast it was unheard of until the TV show. Perhaps it’s a regional term?

  20. James

    rusty –

    There are some great looking amusement park cars on the autotitre page 114. Check out the Alfas and possibly (?) coachbuilt Fiats three quarters down the page (just under the pic of Alfred Hitchcock’s go-kart) and the green and white Ford Vedette convertibles near the bottom of the page. The Ford thumbnails can be enlarged.


    The various pedals cars are also interesting. However, the Alfa and Fiat (?) racing cars driven by kids are fascinating. Haven’t seen another photo of either one.

    • rusty

      Thanks James..thats an interesting site..lots of looking for me

      appreciate it


  21. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    This brings back fond memories! I was stationed in the Heidelberg area of Germany in the early 1970s. The Brothers Ihle had their factory in the small town of Bruchsal, just a few miles south of Heidelberg, on the WineStrasse. They also built specialty bodies for small trucks, and I still have an Ihle bauwerke badge from one of them.

    The first time I drove thru Bruchsal I saw several of these little cars scurrying around the town, I suspect being test driven before shipping out. On one trip I had some extra time, and I stopped to look closer at the little cars, as I was [and still am] a Studebaker enthusiast. When one of the workers approached me and found out I was an American who liked the cars, he ushered me into the office, and introduced me to Herr Fritz, one of the Ihle brothers [Gebruder in German]. I’m not sure, but I think the other brother was Roland or Raymond. I never met or saw him.

    I was given a great tour of the entire facilities [took all of about 10 minutes]. I can tell you from seeing the parts department & all the Studebaker boxes with nose chrome parts inside, and seeing the actual nose piece with “Studebaker” block letters, the grills are genuine Studebaker parts. I saw a few advertising signs on the walls, and they actually called their cars Ihle Studebakers! [A nice German name.] I also saw parts boxes from other German auto manufacturers like Auto Union, Borgward, Lloyd, etc. I suspect that many of the trim and mechanical parts were “off the shelf” items.

    A few weeks later I returned with pictures of my 1951 Studebaker Commander Starlight coupe. Herr Fritz took the photos and began showing them to all the other employees! I was told that the company offered a more “normal” type grill, but most of the orders were for the Studie type.

    My everyday car in Germany was a 1956 Chrysler Imperial sedan. My car had been assembled in Paris by the coachbuilder Facel [Makers of the Facel-Vega]. It was the car on display for the Paris Auto Show, & was factory assembled with Marchal electrics, and a special silk brocade interior with hand embroidered eagles on the seat backs, as well as lambs wool carpeting. When Herr Fritz saw my car, he had one of his little cars parked next to it for a photograph! He kept exclaiming how huge my car was, and he was sure the trunk would hold one of his little cars inside! [I brought the Imperial back with me, but it was one of my cars destroyed in a big fire back in the late 1990s]

    Now about the gearbox; I saw them being driven all over the place, and remember the external shift lever as having 3 positions, with a centrifugal clutch. The rearmost position was neutral. Middle position was 1st gear, and the forward position was 2nd gear. I don’t believe there was a reverse, and never saw one backing up. To shift, one let up on the gas, then moved the lever forward or back.

    I did see one employee jump onto the little running board of an idling car, grab the steering wheel, shift it into 1st gear, then reach back & grab the throttle on the engine and move it forward [the engine cover was not on the car yet]. If you look at the pics here, you will see a vertical side panel gap just behind the seat area, the entire back panel lifts off for engine access. The fake spare tire cover is hinged so it can be opened to fill the gas tank.

    To start these cars, the right rear wheel [the traction wheel] has a large hexagonal coupling in the center of the hub. I watched as an employee made sure it was in 1st gear, then lifted the rear wheel off the ground with a triangular lever block on a long pipe. Then using a crank handle, he began cranking the right rear wheel until it started! I was told this was the proper starting method, as the wheel & tire acted as a flywheel, to maintain rotary inertia until it started!

    Like 1
    • ydnar

      Great story, thank you.

      Like 1
    • rusty

      Thanks Bill

      fantastic info that’s the stuff this site is made of


      Like 1
  22. Tom

    I live in the golf cart capital of the world— The Villages, Florida. This thing would be perfect.

  23. M Tate

    One thing I’d do is call Icon and show them
    The only problem I can foresee is that when they get done with it,
    it’ll still look like it does now (lots of patina),
    but it will now do a quarter in the low 10’s. On pump gas.

  24. JustMe

    17k ???
    At that price tag I would prefer this (street legal!) micro car:


    The manufacturer is: http://www.wenckstern.com/

    Have to try this tour when I am in Hamburg again! Looks like great fun :-D

    However, nice find. Would be interesting to know how it got to MX.

  25. Angel

    It’s great to play with toys you never got a chance to when you were a kid. That’s what got me started collecting these cars. I have been collecting toys since I can remember. Always collected one thing or another, from stamps to coins and now these little gems. Its not about the money although I have made a little profit at times. The real joy is when it puts on a smile on everyone’s face. When I take one of my finds or builds to a show, first you here ” what the hell is it? or, does it run? and then maybe, is it street legal?”. Its just fun to share and also learn.
    I really enjoy working with metal and one day after buying the first amusement park car I decided to build one. Plans were to do a simple restoration but then decided to build a new one. So the Supercar was my first challenge. Next, the red and blue Ihle Schottenring car restoration that sold at the RM auction. Am currently restoring another Ihle for a collector but also have a few new builds to complete.
    This is just my hobby, one that I will continue to explore and share as long as I have good health. For more pictures and brief description, please take a look at my simple page at micronut.blogspot.com

  26. rusty

    As mentioned above out of it’s 30 year slumber. Any aussie seen another for identification.

    • rusty

      Rear profile

  27. rusty

    I bought this over 30 years ago from a pedal car collector because it was too big for a pedal car / collection. I am torn between fairground attraction or microcar. [as i have seen some Aussie one off microcars similar to this in period photos].

    Its a monocoque body that looks like it sat on a chassis that held engine and suspension. All that is missing. After letting my car collection go due to health and an interstate move I brought this interstate with me as its would be easy to build into a going vehicle except my health is getting beyond that now. Having been buried in my shed interstate till a year or so ago its now accessible due to me no longer hoarding.

    It makes a goggomobil look like a SUV but its far bigger than any pedal car. Fairground free running car. Microcar or special built toy? Any identification from Aussies would be welcome

  28. Dustin

    This would be a good golf cart. Very interesting.

  29. Fabrice

    greetings to all, this mico-car is currently for sale on a sales site in France. it is the same . I was looking for information on this mico-car and here I am, now I know what was bought at auction.

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