After an 11-year hiatus, the Micro/Mini Car World Meet returns for 2021
Jim Golomb grew up in Saginaw, Michigan, in an era when it was a big deal to visit dealership showrooms and check out each year’s new lineup of cars. These days, he says automobiles are so boxy and look so much alike that it’s more fascinating to look back—unless you’re looking forward to something like the 2021 Micro/Mini Car World Meet.
Golomb, a lover of cars of all sizes, has resurrected the big show that focuses on small rides. The previous two Micro/Mini World Meets were held in Crystal Lake, Illinois; the last one was in 2010. Eleven years later, the next edition is scheduled for June 18–19 at the Gilmore Car Museum in southwest Michigan.
Golomb thinks it’s the perfect fit.
“When I started thinking about doing the World Meet, I contacted [founder] Ken Weger and offered my help if he wanted to do a third,” says Golomb, who lives in the Chicago area. “For a number of reasons, he said he wouldn’t be able to organize another World Meet, but he gave me his blessing if I wanted to do it. Having participated in a couple of ‘Air Cooled’ events at the Gilmore with my microcars, I thought that perhaps it would be a good spot for the World Meet.”
Golomb says his idea “was met with great enthusiasm,” both from the museum staff and the Franklin Car Club, which has sponsored the Air Cooled events there. In addition to the Gilmore’s experience in hosting shows and handling all the insurance issues surrounding those gatherings: “They also have a dedicated group of volunteers to help with parking, traffic, and organizing events. It was exactly what I was looking for. Plus, attendees get the added bonus of being able to visit a world-class car museum.”
The 2021 Micro/Mini Car World Meet is officially scheduled for Saturday, June 19, from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., at Michigan’s Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners. A preview event with live music and activities will be held the day before, starting at 4 p.m. at Bate’s Alley in downtown Kalamazoo.
Advance registration (due by May 15) is $35 for the first car and $10 for each additional car. Sign-up includes admission to the museum, which normally costs $16 per person. Don’t know whether your car is technically a “microcar” or “minicar”? Doesn’t matter. “We aren’t going to get hung up on definitions,” Golomb says. “We want to be as inclusive as possible and hope you’ll bring your car.”
Golomb owns a pair of minicars, a 1955 Messerschmitt KR200 Deluxe and a 1957 BMW Isetta 300, but he isn’t locked into one genre. He owns an Amphicar (and serves as president of the Amphicar Owners Club), has owned a 1951 MG-TD for almost 50 years, and is a Corvette aficionado. His 2016 C7 is his third Vette (following a C4 and C6), and he is waiting for his new mid-engine C8 to be delivered.
Serving as the Events Chairman of the new Micro/Mini Car Club, Golomb says he began planning the World Meet in March 2019. He decided against holding it in 2020 to give himself plenty of time, and that decision turned out to be a fortuitous one since the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out most of last summer’s events anyway.
Two trophies will be awarded at June’s World Meet: a People’s Choice Award, which will be determined by the general public, and an Exhibitor’s Choice Award, which will be decided by the exhibitors.
In addition, a panel of kids (age 6–14) will participate in the Hagerty Youth Judging program and evaluate a handful of cars in five “best of” categories: electrical, interior, design, paint, and engine compartment. Ribbons will be awarded to the top three cars selected.
“The future of the hobby is the kids,” Golomb says. “As current owners grow older, we’ll need someone to buy our cars when we can’t drive them anymore. Kids can relate to these (micro/mini cars) because they remind them of some that they’ve seen in the movie Cars—plus they’re ‘kid size.’
“I get the biggest kick out of watching their reaction when I open the front of the Isetta and they see the steering wheel move with the door and the entire front of the car opens up. What other car does that? Or when they look at my Messerschmitt, and I tell them it doesn’t have a door and I ask them, ‘How do you think I get in the car?’ When I lift the dome towards them, they jump back in amazement.”
The Micro/Mini World Meet is actually the culmination of a larger event that Golomb has planned: the Microcar 500. Scheduled for June 13–18, participants will drive 500 miles and visit five car museums along the way. Organized by Jeff Lane of the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, the tour begins at the Lane and includes the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky; the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum; the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum and National Automotive and Truck Museum in Auburn, Indiana; and finally the Gilmore.
Cars can join the tour at any point along the way, but for those who plan on driving from beginning to end, Golomb reveals a little secret: It’s actually a 600-mile trip. “The original route was approximately 500 miles—hence the name—but since the cars will be driving only 35–45 mph, they’ll need to take the roads less traveled, so it became 600 miles.”
Golomb says he isn’t sure why it took 11 years to put together another Micro/Mini Car World Meet, but he believes it is partly because “some of the driving forces in the community had taken a step back.” So it was time for someone else to step forward, and “I asked myself, ‘Why not me?’ That’s what happens when you volunteer, and I found out that there were a lot of people out there willing to help me.”