Great Collector Car, full restoration.The BMW Isetta was designed to be an efficient and affordable form of motorized transportation following World War II. BMW was primarily building large motor cars that were not selling well as there was a fuel shortage following the war. Some historians even claim that the Isetta kept the company alive during this time of scarce fuel. The Isetta remains one of the most memorable "microcars" that helped to mobilize a shattered postwar Europe.
The BMW Isetta debuted in 1955 at the Frankfurt Auto Show alongside a giant BMW 505 Pullman Limousine, which must have created quite a scene at the BMW stand. While the Isetta sold quite poorly in Italy, the timing for BMW was perfect, as these little cars quickly became a fashion statement, and the Bundespost used them extensively as well. The Isetta quickly achieved cult status in the United States as well, where it was featured on a number of variety shows. BMW cranked out 160,000 cars from 1955 to 1964, and famous Isetta owners include Cary Grant and Elvis Presley.
Weighing merely 770 pounds, the Isetta was powered by a four-stroke, single-cylinder 298 cc air-cooled engine borrowed from BMW's motorcycle line. Nonetheless, it was capable of propelling the car to speeds exceeding 50 mph, achieving fuel consumption of 40 to 45 mpg. A contemporary road test by Road & Track also noted the Isetta's low operating costs, mechanical robustness and ease of maintenance. Isettas are only seven feet, nine inches long, including their chrome plated nerf-bar bumpers, and only four and a half feet wide; in all, they are barely larger than a standard sheet of plywood. Isetta owners were never at a loss for a parking space, contributing to their strong popularity among city dwellers.
Finished in green with a tan interior, the Isetta presented here benefits from an older frame-off restoration, beautifully executed by one of the nation's leading restoration facilities. The delightful BMW also received a complete mechanical and electrical rebuild as well as a cosmetic freshening. It runs and drives very well and was also fitted with a new Stayfast top and new carpeting.
More than merely an idiosyncratic addition to any automotive collection, the Isetta's historical significance cannot be underestimated, as it saved BMW from being bought by Mercedes in the late 1950s. This vehicle was previously owned by a prominent, private collector. To this day, it remains one of the most popular and recognizable mini-cars, of which this Isetta 300 is a particularly well-restored and show quality example.