Mini revolution on the busy streets of Paris

IN THE French capital, to park a car requires patience, nerve or imagination. It is common to see vehicles strewn along the pavement, abandoned beside a busy roundabout or inserted at a 45-degree angle to the curb. Bernard Lannaud has adopted a different approach: he has sawn his car in half.

The idea came to him when he was trapped in traffic on the Boulevard Peripherique, the perpetually choked mother of all ring roads. The news on the radio said that the city of Paris was considering doubling the size of the periph. Why not, thought Mr Lannaud, halve the size of the cars?

Six years later, his invention - a Mini-Minor cut in two - has been accepted by the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest "real" car in the world. With the help of a friend and a garage in his native Brittany, 69-year- old Mr Lannaud removed the back half of a Mini and re-attached the rear wheels, rear window and a part of the boot behind the front seats.

The result - the mini-Mini or Naudal, an approximate anagram of his name - is just over a yard long and can fit into half a Parisian parking space, with its front bumper to the curb. Unlike electric cars and other slow- moving, urban buggies, the Naudal is at home on the open road, and even on the motorway.

Mr Lannaud has the bouffant white hair and insistent, chest-prodding manner of a typecast Hollywood professor. But he is, in fact, a successful Breton clothes shop owner. He frequently pilots his invention at 90mph, suitcase on the roof, over the 300 miles from his small chateau in Brittany to Paris.

"Just look around you," he said, taking me for a nerve-jangling demonstration spin through the Parisian traffic. "You'll see few cars with more than one person in them. Most cars are unnecessarily big for what they're used for."

Looking around is not a good idea in the Naudal. In the front, and only, passenger seat, there is reassuringly plenty of space, even for a person of XXL size like me. If you glance behind, all you see is the road.

"And another thing," Mr Lannaud said. "This car drives itself." He took his hands off the wheel and turned to me with a grin. We were zooming down a narrow street, with parked cars on either side. A red light was approaching fast. Screech. "And the brakes work fine, too," Mr Lannaud announced.

He has already hawked his idea around a number of car companies, including Rover, successors to the makers of the Mini, but has attracted no more than polite praise.

If only the city of Paris can be persuaded to give his car an official blessing, Mr Lannaud is convinced that the Naudal's global and commercial future will be immense. "In the early days of motoring, Paris was the first city to abolish the external klaxon. All the other countries followed."

Mr Lannaud is pestering the Parisian authorities to give his two-seater the same status as motorcycles, which are allowed to park for free.

To force the issue, he has been parking his mini-Mini with its face to the pavement without feeding the parking meter. His intention is to generate a cause celebre by accumulating parking fines and fighting them through every court in the land.

Much to his chagrin, the Parisian traffic wardens find his vehicle so amusing that they have declined, so far, to give him a ticket.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Consultant - London - £65,000 OTE.

£65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Presales Engineer - central London ...

Recruitment Genius: Physiotherapist / Sports Therapist

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Physiotherapist / Sports Ther...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Advisor

£8 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives / Advisors are required...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable