Those familiar with Roman mythology may remember Janus, the god for whom the month of January is named. The deity, believed to have the power to look into the past and future, is always depicted with two faces — one facing forward and one facing backward. Though the namesake Zundapp Janus microcar does not have any psychic abilities, it does have doors on both ends providing passengers with perfect front and rear views.
The tiny vehicle was the brainchild of German motorcycle manufacturer Zundapp, which ventured into the car business in 1957. While most bubble cars, which were all the rage in the 1950s and 1960s, had room for just one or two people, the Zundapp Janus could fit four – two facing forward and two facing the rear. The seats could also be flattened and used as a bed in case the owner decided to camp inside overnight! However, thanks to its small 245cc one-cylinder two-stroke engine that produced 14 horsepower, it could only reach a top speed of 50 mph (80kmh). When filled to capacity with passengers, the car was even slower! Given that there were numerous faster, cheaper, and more conventional-looking microcars already on the market, the off-beat Zundapp Janus proved a failure and production was halted in 1958 after just 6,902 models had been made.
However, as years have passed, the few remaining cars have become highly coveted by collectors, which is why the December 2017 announcement that one is up for sale is generating a lot of excitement. Priced at a “reasonable” $48,935, the 1958 model comes with an original logbook containing the names of the four people that owned the vehicle before it was purchased by a Belgian collector in 1973. According to the Classic Driver website where the vehicle is listed, the fully-restored Zundup Janus, which has been stored in a museum since it was last purchased, is in “remarkably good condition and drives well.” Though there have been no takers yet, we have a feeling this quirky little vehicle will be snapped up soon!