15 Coolest Two-Cylinder Machines Ever Made

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Two-cylinder automobiles may lack the thunderous rumble of a V8 or the smooth symphony of a six-cylinder engine, but they possess a different kind of magic. These compact classics represent more than just fuel efficiency; they represent a legacy of innovative design, engaging driving experiences, and undeniable character. Join us as we journey through the world of 15 iconic two-cylinder machines that remain cherished in automotive history.

1959 Fiat 500

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The Fiat 500, affectionately nicknamed “Topolino” (little mouse), redefined the microcar segment. An Italian design icon, the ride was powered by a modest 479cc air-cooled twin-cylinder engine, and achieved a respectable 53 mph top speed. The combination of charming design, fuel efficiency, and functionality propelled the Fiat 500 to global phenomenon status.

1960 Messerschmitt KR200


Conceived by the famous German aircraft manufacturer, this unconventional microcar stood out for its unique design. The cockpit-style cabin offered a reclined driving position, and the 191cc single-cylinder engine (later upgraded to a 200cc twin) provided a scootering-like experience. With a top speed of 50 mph and a detachable canopy, the KR200 was a true conversation starter.

1962 Citroën 2CV


The “Deux Chevaux” (two-horsepower) exemplified French ingenuity. The car’s 375cc air-cooled twin-cylinder engine, despite producing a modest 12 horsepower, delivered impressive fuel efficiency and surprisingly capable off-road prowess. The 2CV’s innovative suspension and lightweight design made it a favorite among farmers, adventurers, and style-conscious city dwellers.

1964 Autobianchi Bianchina


A hallmark of Italian design ingenuity, the Autobianchi Bianchina brought a touch of sophistication to the microcar class. This rear-engined machine, powered by a lively 499cc air-cooled twin-cylinder engine generating 18 horsepower, boasted a smooth four-speed manual transmission and a surprisingly spacious interior for its size. Drawing inspiration from the Fiat 500, the Bianchina’s elegant design quickly captured the hearts of young professionals and families seeking an economical yet stylish means of transportation.

1968 Suzuki Fronte


The Suzuki Fronte established itself as a forerunner in the Japanese kei car market. Featuring a compact, air-cooled 359cc two-cylinder engine offering a respectable 31 horsepower, the Fronte delivered a spirited and engaging driving experience. Its lightweight construction and two-stroke engine technology contributed to fuel economy and agile handling.

Lloyd LT 500


The Lloyd LT 500, produced in East Germany by Lloyd Motoren Werke, emphasized functionality over elaborate features. The compact and efficient 386cc two-stroke engine delivered a respectable 13 horsepower, enabling a modest yet adequate top speed of 47 mph. The LT 500 may not have offered extensive amenities, but it provided an economical and reliable solution for daily transportation needs within Eastern Europe.

DAF 44


Innovation met practicality in this Dutch marvel. The unique Variomatic automatic transmission offered seamless gear changes, while the 844cc twin-cylinder powertrain provided a smooth 34-horsepower ride. The DAF 44’s spacious interior and comfortable seating made it a compelling choice for families seeking a comfortable and fuel-efficient everyday car.

1957 Abarth 595 SS


Abarth’s 1957 595 SS defied expectations. Weighing 1,036 lbs, the car defied its diminutive stature with a spirited 37-horsepower, two-cylinder engine. Although the car’s power output was modest, its lightweight construction allowed it to provide a thrilling driving experience. The 595 SS had a classic Italian design, turning heads with undeniable charm. This legacy continued—a testament to the model’s enduring appeal—with Abarth even reviving the SS for its 70th anniversary.

1965 Toyota Sports 800


In the 60s, they built a tiny, two-cylinder rocket called the Sports 800. This featherweight ride could outrun rivals like the Honda S800 with a zippy 790cc engine and dual carburetors. Only 3,131 were ever made, and all were right-hand drive, leaving American gearheads wondering what they missed.

1972 Honda Z600


A rare sight on American roads, the Honda Z600 stood out. The 599cc, air-cooled two-cylinder engine, drawing inspiration from Honda’s motorcycles, provided quick acceleration and seamlessly integrated with a 4-speed manual transmission for a spirited ride. Prioritizing fuel efficiency over raw power, the Z600 emerged as a practical choice for budget-minded drivers. Its unique features included a selectable rear-wheel drive mode and a four-point roll bar.

1957 BMW 600

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Released in the 1950s, the BMW 600’s unconventional design may not turn heads today. However, this microcar, nicknamed the “bubble car,” was pivotal in BMW’s financial recovery. Powered by a frugal 585cc rear-mounted motorcycle engine mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, the 600 opted for efficiency over speed. Apart from its modest 20 horsepower, the car offered surprisingly comfortable seating for four and employed a coil spring suspension system for a smoother ride.

1950 Saab Ursaab

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In a surprising move, Saab, the Swedish aerospace giant, debuted their first car in 1950. The unconventional two-door car featured a transversely mounted, two-cylinder, two-stroke engine displacing a mere 764cc and generating 24 horsepower. As much as the manufacturers did not go for outright speed, the design was ingenious. The lightweight body offered superior damage resistance and the wide wheel arches brought ample clearance for snow accumulation. Notably, Saab concentrated on aerodynamics from the outset, conducting rigorous testing to achieve a low drag coefficient.

1963 Panhard 24 CT


The Panhard 24CT, a French coupe produced from 1963 to 1967, carved a unique niche. The ride’s two-cylinder marvel was the world’s most expensive car in its category, rivaling the price tag of a Jaguar Mk2. Despite its unconventional engine size (848cc), the air-cooled, twin-cylinder powerhouse delivered 59 horsepower and a top speed exceeding 99 mph. Once a Le Mans champion, the car had exceptional handling, with the ability to transition smoothly between oversteer and understeer for exceptional cornering capabilities. The driver-centric interior featured a forward-thinking heating system and even incorporated ducts to demist the rear window, a rarity at the time.

1974 Mazda RX-3 Super Deluxe


The 1974 Mazda RX-3 Super Deluxe, though lacking contemporary amenities, presents a captivating historical perspective. This car, cherished by enthusiasts, emphasizes driver engagement over comfort. The twin-rotor engine, with a displacement of just 1.1 liters, produces an impressive 95 horsepower. It might not be refined by modern standards, but the RX-3’s dedication to performance laid the groundwork for iconic models such as the RX-7.

1969 Honda N600

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Contrary to popular belief, two-cylinder engines pre-date the modern era. In 1969, Honda introduced the N600, its first U.S. export, that had a 598cc air-cooled twin-cylinder powerplant. The engine, having a single overhead camshaft, and a single-barrel carburetor, delivered a top speed of 80 mph on fuel economy at 40 mpg. American consumer preferences in the early 1970s then shifted towards vehicles with greater power. Recognizing this market demand, Honda transitioned the N600 to a more powerful four-cylinder engine, paving the way for its continued success in the U.S. market.

Written by Johann H