Auto-Mini folding bikes
- Auto-Mini folding bikes were made by Puch in Austria for various department stores. In North America, vendors included J.C. Penney, Montgomery-Ward, and Simpsons-Sears. (thebikeguy, 2007; Martin, 1996; Thomas, 2011b;
cf. Bikeworks, c. 1998.) In my experience, the main-tube sticker always says "Auto-Mini" in huge type, with the word "Junior" in faint type inside the letter "T" of the word "Auto". The head badge may have "Executive", "Iverson", "Senator", or another "brand name" on it; I presume this varies according to which store sold the bike.
About the bikes:
They have 20" wheels. Any Auto-Mini can be adjusted to fit an adult or a child (UsedOttawa, 2012); note that this is a common characteristic of folding bikes. An Auto-Mini uses a Thompson-style bottom bracket. Keep it lubricated (Scott, 2008), as it's a hassle to replace it with a modern bottom bracket (Rehder, 2007, quoting Chen).
There were at least two distinct types of Auto-Mini. They differ slightly: for example, one has a slightly-larger frame; one has a slightly-smaller one (Thomas, 2011c). Thomas bought the slightly-larger type (Thomas, 2011c) and provided a detailed parts list in a blog entry (Thomas, 2011a).
About the frame and the ride quality:
"I have a few of them myself and find that they are a good sturdy riding bike." (Scott, 2008.)
"They are prone to cracking where the main tube intersects with the seat tube. There are fixes". (Rehder, 2007, quoting Chen).
"For some reason I find these ride nicer than the other old folders — maybe they got the wheelbase just right or the weight is a little less. I own a few (they're cheap) and they suffer from frame breakage in a couple of places; where the seat tube meets the bottom bracket shell (too much stress) and where the two thin seat stay tubes meet the seat tube (lousy welds). If you can weld, you can improve the frame by adding a piece of tubing between the bottom bracket shell and the main tube. Otherwise, ride gently." (Seal, 2011).
In sum, if you want a quality frame, spend more and buy something better than an Auto-Mini. "Spending $100 - $200 on a folding bike won't get you quality of any sort. Folding bikes with quality frames are significantly more expensive. You may want to save up for a bit before buying, or find a way to get a non-folding bike." (Fein, 2013).
One possible alternative to an Auto-Mini: a Raleigh Twenty
Among vintage folding bikes, the Raleigh Twenty is a better bike overall (cf. Rehder, 2007). The Twenty's main deficiency is its braking power — which is "barely adequate" in dry conditions, and non-existent in the rain. (Rehder, 2007). For safety reasons, if you buy a Twenty, you should probably upgrade it in order to correct this deficiency; there are various ways do so (Martin, 2012).
Please feel free to edit this post and add more information or your own personal opinions.