Collector Concept Cars Donated to Route 66 Visitor Center Museum – City of Albuquerque

April 20, 2022

Today, Councilwoman Klarissa Peña is thrilled to announce that two concept cars, designed by Leopold E. Garcia in the 1950s, are being loaned to the automobile museum that will be located at the Route 66 Visitor Center. The cars that will be presented at the museum are the “Bubbles Car” and the “City Car”.

(Click on the photo for the slideshow)

In the 1950s, Léopold created “Chic-ito”. Chic-ito has an 80-inch wheelbase and wore a Ford flathead V-8 and featured a coiled exhaust pipe that doubles as a working front bumper. The vehicle debuted in several magazines and was later named “Bubbles”. Bubbles has received several awards, including one from the Indianapolis Motor World Fair, he also took top honors at the Speedorama Auto Show in Minneapolis and won second place for design at the Motocade in Sioux Falls.

In addition, in the 1950s, Leopold created “City Car”. City Car is a three-wheeled vehicle that runs on an air-cooled V-4 forklift engine. City Car opens from the front and has a single bench seat to sit directly behind the windshield. Leopold received his patent in 1962 and planned production in Germany, but this never happened and City Car remains a concept car only.

“It’s an honor to have these cars on display at the Route 66 Visitor Center,” said Councilwoman Klarissa Peña. “Leopoldo Garcia lived in New Mexico, so this is a fitting tribute to honor his innovative work here along Route 66. We are seeking other donations for the museum and are happy to consider artifacts related to the history of Route 66 and the city of Albuquerque from the community.”

Leopold attended the University of New Mexico and lived in Bernalillo, NM. He owned a salvage yard and worked for Ford. Leopold also studied engineering and sculpture. After the death of Léopold and the taking over of the vehicles by his sister. His sister was able to give the vehicles to a local car collector named Phil Maloof with the promise that both vehicles would stay in New Mexico. Phil eventually moved his collection to Las Vegas, NV and due to the promise he gave the cars to another New Mexico car collector named Charles Mann. Charles had kept the cars until his death in 2017. The Mann family is keeping their promise and are thrilled to see “Bubbles” and “City Car” staying in New Mexico and being displayed at the Route 66 Visitor Center.

The Route 66 Visitor Center is currently under construction. The first phase of construction includes a 21,000 square foot museum, meeting space, catering kitchen, faucet room, offices, outdoor amphitheater, parking and landscaping. Construction began in March 2021 and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022. The center, at Central and Atrisco Vista, atop a nine-mile hill.

Those interested in donating artifacts to the museum can contact Luis Hernandez Jr., Executive Director of West Central Community Development Group, [email protected] for exam.