The Isetta is an Italian-designed microcar built in a number of different countries, including Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Produced in the post-World War II years, a time when cheap short-distance transportation was most needed, it became one of the most successful and influential city cars ever created. Because of its egg shape and bubble-like windows, it became known as a bubble car, a name later given to other similar vehicles, including the AMC Pacer.
The car originated with the Italian firm of Iso SpA. In the early 1950s the company was building refrigerators, motor scooters and small three-wheeled trucks. Iso's owner, Renzo Rivolta, decided he would like to build a small car for mass distribution. By 1952 the engineers Ermenegildo Preti and Pierluigi Raggi had designed a small car that used the scooter engine and named it Isetta—an Italian diminutive meaning little ISO.
The Isetta caused a sensation when it was introduced to the motoring press in Turin in November 1953, it was unlike anything seen before. Small (only 2.29 m (7.5 ft) long by 1.37 m (4.5 ft) wide) and egg-shaped, with bubble-type windows, the entire front end of the car hinged outwards to allow entry. In the event of a crash, the driver and passenger were to exit through the canvas sunroof. The steering wheel and instrument panel swung out with the single door, as this made access to the single bench seat simpler. The seat provided reasonable comfort for two occupants, and perhaps a small child. Behind the seat was a large parcel shelf with a spare wheel located below. A heater was optional, and ventilation was provided by opening the fabric sunroof.
Power came from a 236 cm3 (14.4 cu in), 7.1 kW (9.5 hp) two-cylinder two-stroke motorcycle engine. The engine was started by a combination generator-starter known as Dynastart. A manual gearbox provided four forward speeds and reverse. A chain drive connected the gearbox to a solid rear axle with a pair of closely-spaced 25 cm (10 in) rear wheels. The first prototypes had one wheel at the rear; this made the car prone to roll-overs, so they placed two rear wheels 48 cm (19 in) apart from each other.
The BMW Isetta was in 1955 the world's first mass-production 3-Liters/100km car. BMW made the Isetta its own. They redesigned the powerplant around a BMW one-cylinder, four-stroke, 247 cc motorcycle engine which generated 10 kW (13 hp). Although the major elements of the Italian design remained intact, BMW re-engineered much of the car, so much so that none of the parts between a BMW Isetta Moto Coupe and an Iso Isetta are interchangeable. The first BMW Isetta appeared in April 1955.
This nice running example is an older restoration that has very few needs to be ready for your local show. There is some minor rust on the left front fender, and the windshield is cracked. The car is fully serviced with new Rebuilt Carburator, tires, etc. The car runs and drives without fault. It is complete in every respect. Here's your chance to get an affordable Isetta and improve it as you enjoy it.