Renzo Rivolta’s Isothermos company had begun life pre-war making refrigerators. Rivolta was passionate about all things petrol-powered, and he began to expand the company’s range, adding motorbikes to the portfolio, renaming the works Iso Autoveicoli S.p.A. After World War II.
Introduced in 1953, the egg-shaped Isetta was like nothing seen before, boasting a hinged front for entry, the steering column and instruments swinging out with the door to facilitate easy access to the bench seat.
Power was provided by a 236cc two-stroke engine, which drove the closely spaced twin rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox. In the 1954 Mille Miglia, Isettas claimed the first three places in the economy classification, the winner averaging over 70km/h.
BMW approached the owner of 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.
BMW debuted the Isetta at the 1955 Frankfurt Auto Show and fitted it with its own 12-horsepower, 247-cubic centimeter four-stroke engine, later upsizing it to 297 cubic centimeters with 13 horsepower, as this model has.
A clutch-operated, four-speed motorcycle gearbox drove the twin rear wheels, which were placed just 20.5 inches apart.
The tubular chassis provided for a light body, which weighed in at just 700 pounds. In combination with the motorcycle engine, it offered miserly fuel consumption and a mere DM 2,580 purchase price, which was just 500 more than the R25 motorcycle with which it shared its engine.
ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
This beautiful 1959 example is meticulously restored and detailed to very high standard.
Few automobiles are as beloved or instantly recognizable worldwide as the BMW Isetta. The car was formerly registered in Germany but was purchased by it’s last owner 3 years ago.
The last owner mainly used the car as a marketing tool for his shop and decided to sell the car now and we are very happy as we once wanted to have an Isetta in our collection.
With room for two passengers and a few groceries on the parcel shelf, the Isetta interior is cozy with only the bare essentials needed.
Vinyl-covered panels line the body sides and inside of the door.
Every Isetta features a sunroof, which also doubles as an exit should the front door become blocked.
The sunroof vinyl cover and frame mechanism are in excellent working order.
Controls and switchgear appear original and in similarly good condition throughout the interior.
With just 13 horsepower, every drive in an Isetta is an adventure, and it is nearly impossible not to smile when stirring the 4-speed gearbox and listening to the little single-cylinder buzz of this well-sorted example.
To many collectors, it doesn’t bother them that the car doesn’t go very fast.
Small and unassuming though it may be, it is without question a very historical notable example.