The Isetta is the iconic Italian-design, German-made micro-car far ahead of it’s time. With space for two and their luggage, the Isetta was perfect accessory for getting around in style.
It was purchased by a previous owner at the Hershey Fall Meet approximately twenty years ago. During his ownership, it was restored over a five-year period in his machine shop in Portland, Connecticut. It became part of the consignor’s collection following the restorer’s passing.
The Isetta was a vehicle born of necessity and is often regarded as the car that saved BMW. Faced with declining motorcycle sales, the burgeoning middle class in its home market, and the political events of the 1950’s leading to oil shortages in Europe; the micro-car craze was ripe for success. As the motorcycle market declined, BMW began moving toward high-volume car production. This was a car that BMW desperately needed. For the second time in its history, BMW built a vehicle under license as a means of getting into production quickly. The two-seat vehicle with unique front opening door became known as “das rollende Ei” – the rolling egg. BMW approached the owner of the Italian company Iso and its designer / owner Count Renzo Rivolta with the idea of purchasing the rights to build the car. Rivolta sold not only the production rights to the Iso, but much of the body tooling as well.
Debuting at the 1955 Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW fitted the car with its own 12hp 247cc four-stroke engine, later upsizing it to 297cc and 13hp like this model. A clutch-operated four-speed motorcycle gearbox drove the twin rear wheels placed just 20.5 inches apart. The tubular chassis provided for a light body weighing just 700 pounds. In combination with the motorcycle engine, it offered great fuel consumption along with a mere DM 2,580 purchase price, just 500 more than an R25 motorcycle with which it shared its engine. Between 1955 and 1962 BMW produced 161,728 Isetta 250’s and 300’s. The little BMW offers genuine 50mph performance while delivering up to a claimed 70mpg.