Sado 550 | Spotted


Back in 1975 the Portuguese economy was still reeling in the aftermath of the Carnation Revolution. To attempt to supplement a lack of demand for the trailers and caravans it typically built, industrial metalworking company Entreposto Comercial set out a plan to build something people really needed: a cheap, practical car. With a team of just 11 engineers, the manufacturer set to work developing a machine which would not only appeal to the people of Portugal, but be created entirely using components sourced from them as well.

What they came up with was this: the Sado 550. Measuring just 2,365mm long and 1,345mm wide, the micro car was designed to accommodate two people and their luggage, while also fitting down the narrow streets of the nation's historic cities. Of course, no matter how small it may have been, building a 100 per cent Portuguese car was easier said than done, and Entreposto Comercial eventually had to settle for around 70 per cent of their parts coming from within their borders.


Of the remaining 30 per cent, around 29 can likely be found in the engine. This was a two-cylinder 547cc - hence the car's 550 designation - Daihatsu unit, also found in kei cars such as the Japanese firm's own Cuore. Mated to a four-speed manual transmission with power, unbelievably, sent to the rear wheels, it was capable of producing just 28hp. This meant that while the Sado could technically fit along Lisbon's streets, climbing its steep, cobbled hills fully laden would have posed a greater challenge.

The car finally entered the market in 1982, at which time its Portuguese Wikipedia entry describes it as having been available in "five almost similar versions". No matter which variant you went for, however, it came with a plastic/fibreglass body and a set of wheels borrowed from a golf buggy. In true, country club fashion, all 550s were also painted white, unless the buyer had pre-specified blue or yellow from the factory, which it seems very few people bothered to do.


The modern GBP value of 70,000 to 290,000 1980's Portuguese Escudos is unsurprisingly hard to pin down, but this is the price range within which the Sado 550 apparently fell. With five distinct versions available, such a difference in cost may not seem particularly surprising. When you consider, however, that every car came equipped with that same diminutive two-cylinder engine, as well as the overt lack of space for extensive interior improvement, it's hard to see what could have motivated a buyer to spend more than four times the amount on a top of the range model.

Roughly 500 Sado 550s were built in total, with today's Spotted not only being an early example but likely one of the best. Described as presenting "brilliantly throughout", the 2,300km shown on its odometer suggests it never saw service as the blue collar workhorse it was intended to be. Instead it will be offered with no reserve at RM Sotheby's Sรกragga Collection auction in September, where there'll surely be plenty of bidders wise to the huge amount of fun to be had in even the tiniest of machines...


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P.H. O'meter

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