Tiny, quirky 1957 BMW Isetta 300

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The BMW Isetta is a rare convertible version

The Isetta has to rank as one of the quirkiest vehicles ever made, a 7.5-foot-long, egg-shaped microcar that you enter by opening its entire front bodywork, refrigerator-style, and that is powered by a single-cylinder, two-stroke motorcycle engine.

But yes, the Isetta was very innovative, created as an inexpensive and economical way for people in a ravaged post-war Europe to get around. There was also something inherently charming in the Italian design that made Isettas a surprising success in their day and desirable, in their quirky way, for collectors today.

The Isetta is a rare convertible version

The Pick of the Day is a rare convertible version of the 1957 BMW Isetta 300, with a canvas rear roof section that folds down to the open air, and which the seller says is in excellent condition after full restoration.

Isetta was produced in a number of European and South American countries, but it’s the BMW version from Germany that’s most remembered today. Seeing the iconic BMW roundel on the swing-open front door of this teensy car seems so strange considering the performance machines for which the automaker is now famous.

Power is provided by a one-cylinder, two-stroke engine that makes 13 horsepower

This Isetta is a “very rare model that is restored to professional perfection and laser-straight body clad in mirror-finish red,” according to the Volo, Illinois, dealer advertising the bubble car on ClassicCars.com. “Started from an excellent original to this stunning example.”

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The paint, chrome, interior and mechanical parts “are all concours quality,” the seller says, and the car is ready to drive and show.

By drive, that would refer to piloting this 13-horsepower craft to a claimed top speed of 53 miles per hour, not that you’d want to go much faster than that, which should make it a local-only conveyance. Although, I am sure there are dedicated Isetta hobbyists who have driven these things on cross-country treks.

The steering wheel and dashboard swing away for easy entry

Isettas started with just three wheels with a single one in the rear, but that setup was deemed too unstable, so a pair of rear wheels was instituted. The very-narrow rear track is there for a reason, allowing the chain-drive car to operate without a rear differential.

The car may have become more stable with four wheels, but safety was obviously still not a major concern. Drive defensively!

BMW Isettas have rocketed in value during the past five years or so, and the asking price of $44,998 is the going rate for one in apparently excellent condition, according to the Hagerty price guide. The Isetta might be small, but it definitely will get noticed.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

 

 

 

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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