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Flat chat: Flat Out measures just 543mm high.

World's lowest car is set for the Melbourne motor show - just mind your head

19 Feb 2007

HOW low can a car go? The answer is 543mm, according to British custom car builder Andy Saunders, whose latest creation is billed as "the world’s lowest car".

Dubbed Flat Out and set to take pride of place within the Melbourne motor show exhibit of premium in-car infotainment company Eclipse from March 2, the Fiat 126-based car is barely taller than its tyres - yet is fully driveable.

Assisted by noted British engineer Jim Chalmers, Mr Saunders built Flat Out in just three 18-hour days last year at Britain’s 40th Annual Autojumble at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Hampshire.

He chose the 126, which spawned the more familiar Polish-built Niki 650, because its rear-mounted water-cooled twin-cylinder engine is mounted lower in the chassis than most cars.

The result, notwithstanding a hand-stitched leather interior finished by Aston Martin designer Doug Brown, is a total vehicle height that’s just over a third as high as the original Mini (1350mm) and BMW’s born-again Cooper (1420mm) The left-field "world’s lowest car" battle began in 1985, when Mr Saunders produced the Mini-based Claustrophobia. Since then the record has changed hands at least twice, most recently standing at 599mm – a mark that Flat Out beats by 56mm.

Flat Out will be the second Saunders creation to appear at the Melbourne show, with the X-2000 "car of the future" having been exhibited in 2000.

As a piece of automotive freakery, Flat Out is well worth a first-hand look. But in the absence of any rollover protection, perhaps its most appropriate application is as a drip tray for a Hummer H2.

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