To call Ralph Hough a microcar enthusiast would be a bit of an understatement—he’ll admit himself it’s almost a sickness. Between him and his wife Wendy, they own six Messerschmitt KR200s and Tg 500s. And a BMW Isetta. And a Nash Metropolitan.
But every June for the past 23 years, the number of microcars on the Hough property has swelled, this year to almost 50 vehicles, tiny machines you won’t see—nearly anywhere. Welcome to MicroNorth.
“I got the white Messerschmitt back in 1991, and not long after a friend of mine in Orillia [was hosting a] festival, and said, ‘Would you be interested in putting your car in the parade?’” explains Ralph.
Ralph rung up another friend, and then another, who suggested that they could really almost turn it into a small small-car meet. “It just snowballed from there.”
The event centred on microcars – small, typically two-seat sub-subcompacts with engines of no more than three cylinders and 700 cubic centimetres – but was open to other small cars, too.
“We made the mistake of saying we’re organizing a microcar show, and a lot of people said, Oh, I’m not coming, mine’s not a show car, so we quickly changed it to a car meet.” Turnout that first year was about a dozen vehicles.
MicroNorth now draws enthusiasts from all over southern Ontario and as far away as New York—one couple even flies in from Israel every year to drive one of Ralph’s cars. Outside of, perhaps, the Great Pacific Microcar/Minicar Extravaganza in Washington, it’s one of the continent’s biggest microcar meets.
“The only one that is bigger is in Boston every year, and the reason that’s bigger is because the friend of ours that hosts it, he’s even sicker than me—he’s got more microcars than I do!” says Ralph.
Ian Grout trailered his 1958 King Midget to the event all the way from Ohio. The 177-cc one-cylinder “sports roadster” turned heads both on the lawn and, we can testify from our time behind the wheel, while cruising down the road at 55 mph.
Ralph spreads activities across the entire weekend, including seminars from microcar restorers, group meals, and the highlight of the event, a rally around the Lake Simcoe area with stops for ice cream and rides on a – of course – miniaturized railroad track.
It’s all pretty well routine for Hough after so many years of doing it, but still takes some work to put together. He’s not thinking about stopping any time soon, though.
“It’s the highlight of my year, and we’ve done it so often it’s pretty well clockwork,” Ralph says.
“[Last year Wendy wanted to call it quits, and I] said, Well, let’s think about it, but as a couple from Niagara Falls, New York were going home from the show Sunday night, they said, ‘We’ve already booked the B&B for next year!’ Wendy and I looked at each other like, Well, I guess we’re doing it!”