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HomePick of the DayPick of the Day: 1958 BMW Isetta 300, the little bubble car...

Pick of the Day: 1958 BMW Isetta 300, the little bubble car that could

This example of the unique microcar has been extensively restored

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One of the weirdest microcars of the post-war era was also one of the most popular, the BMW Isetta, which was just this side of a motor scooter and with a front door that opens like a refrigerator.  

But lo and behold, the Isetta worked as an actual automobile, particularly on the narrow thoroughfares of Europe and the UK, and today the little bubble car has achieved icon status among collectors of such things.

isetta

The Pick of the Day is a 1958 BMW Isetta 300 that has been faithfully restored and looks like a jewel, and it is being advertised on ClassicCars.com by a dealer in Biloxi, Mississippi. 

“Using a motorcycle engine to power it, the Isetta was embraced by the public and media when it was introduced in 1953,” the dealer says in the ad. “The tiny, egg-shaped car looks like some futuristic craft from outer space and something to play with all at once.

isetta, Pick of the Day: 1958 BMW Isetta 300, the little bubble car that could, ClassicCars.com Journal

“This Isetta underwent a frame-off restoration. Painted in green with gold pinstriping, the interior is colored likewise with a little bench seat upholstered in black vinyl that matches the black vinyl top.

“Powered by a 298cc single-cylinder engine with a 4-speed transmission. Rolling on little whitewall tires wrapping painted wheels topped with polished wheel covers.”

isetta, Pick of the Day: 1958 BMW Isetta 300, the little bubble car that could, ClassicCars.com Journal

The Isetta was created in Italy by the innovative Renzo Rivolta, the wealthy owner of the Iso refrigerator company, which also built motor scooters and 3-wheeled trucks. BMW purchased the design in 1955 and became the largest producer of the inexpensive vehicles as the German automaker struggled to survive after WWII. 

During BMW’s first year of full production in 1956, 22,000 Isettas were sold. By 1962, BMW had sold more than 160,000 of the them, plus another 40,000 built worldwide under license by other automakers. The humble economy craft bolstered BMW’s bottom line, setting it on the road to become the luxury and performance giant that it is today.

Renzo Rivolta went on to create a line of sporty luxury cars powered by American V8 engines.

isetta

Isettas have become strikingly popular in the collector car market, especially those in excellent condition, as this one appears to be.  The asking price of $49,900 might seem steep for such a minimalist vehicle, but that’s the going rate these days, according to the Hagerty value guide.

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

Hagerty
Bob Golfen
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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. One of those I have always wanted….and I could hold myself to task for never having gotten wehn they were sort of affordable – but the fact is -“sort of” was impossible for most of my life!

    Now, – darn that’s a lot of $ – but considering what it is as a thing that is universally appreciated – universally (across the ages) desired – of a form of history and car collecting especially – not a flash in the pan of someones teen desires – nor performance record book glory – probably a whole lot better than what that amount is represented by in many of our “asset” portfolio’s.

    And a cruise to the ice cream parlor not as much fun with any of them that do move!

  2. A piece of automotive industry? Sure. Interesting and different? Given. But there were 200,000 made. They don’t exactly make it on to anyone’s “must have” or “I wanted one when I was younger” list, so $50K? I just do not understand how the price of these cars has gotten to where it is today?

  3. I agree with Mike. I’ve watched these cars cross the auction block on Meacum & even though they bring high dollars what are you going to do with it? You would have to be a small person just to fit in it . I wouldn’t want to be on the highway as it has no safety features. You get hit & you’re a goner.

  4. Petey what are you driving? Any classic car is risk to drive compared to modern cars safety equipment. You drive the cars you enjoy and take the risk. It is what it is.

  5. Thumbs up to Richard. I have a 1972 Avanti II and a 1974 Dodge D100 step side. Neither of which is near as safe as my 2019 Ford Flex. But I enjoy them ALL for what they are

  6. When I was young and financially challenged I often had to push start my car. Get it rolling good on a little incline, jump in, slam it in gear and it would fire. Can’t do that with an Isetta.

  7. If you’re collecting toys I suppose it’s OK. This makes the smart car look, Smart!!! But not by much, as they’re still both toys allowed on the roads. This one clearly wasn’t going for looks or charm for the consumer to buy.

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