Cars BMW BMW Isetta

BMW Isetta

1955 - 1962 BMW Isetta

1955 - 1962 BMW Isetta
- image 644063
  • BMW Isetta
  • Year:
    1955- 1962
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    4-speed manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    12 @ 5200
  • Torque @ RPM:
    10 @ 4600
  • Displacement:
    248 cc
  • Top Speed:
    53 mph
  • Price:
    3000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

You would think that BMW would feel a bit embarassed at having such a humble means of transportation as part of its history, but that has never been the case when talking about the Isetta bubble car. After World War II, the Bavarian car maker was not exactly in tip-top shape in terms of financial success, with Herbert Quandt being close to selling the entire company to Daimler Benz under the pressure of management. Thanks in small part to the prosperity brought by the tiny Isetta and Quandt’s rather risky decision of increasing his stake instead of selling all of it, BMW is still an independent brand now.

As some of you know, the Isetta was actually born in Italy, not Germany, and its original raison d’être was simply to offer an inexpensive means of transport with good fuel economy. Created by Iso, which subsequently became famous afterward for its elegant sports cars in the 1960s, the original Isetta had thee wheels and a single-cylinder motorcycle engine from the Iso Moto 200. Its quirky styling, low price and great city maneuverability caught the eye of BMW, who bought the project along with its tooling and made its own version, keeping the name.

Using a BMW motorcycle engine this time, the BMW Isetta spawned two more variants and became a resounding success for the Bavarian car maker, with over 150,000 units being sold between 1955 and 1962. Part of its success was also thanks to the Suez Energy Crisis, but no one can argue with the cuteness of its bubble car design as also being a very good reason.

Updated 9/1/2015: Our man Jonathan Lopez took some pics at Monterey Car Week. Enjoy!

Click past the jump to read more about the BMW Isetta.

46 photos / 6 videos

Latest BMW Isetta news and reviews:

1955 - 1962 BMW Isetta

1955 - 1962 BMW Isetta

You would think that BMW would feel a bit embarassed at having such a humble means of transportation as part of its history, but that has never been the case when talking about the Isetta bubble car. After World War II, the Bavarian car maker was not exactly in tip-top shape in terms of financial success, with Herbert Quandt being close to selling the entire company to Daimler Benz under the pressure of management. Thanks in small part to the prosperity brought by the tiny Isetta and Quandt’s rather risky decision of increasing his stake instead of selling all of it, BMW is still an independent brand now.

As some of you know, the Isetta was actually born in Italy, not Germany, and its original raison d’être was simply to offer an inexpensive means of transport with good fuel economy. Created by Iso, which subsequently became famous afterward for its elegant sports cars in the 1960s, the original Isetta had thee wheels and a single-cylinder motorcycle engine from the Iso Moto 200. Its quirky styling, low price and great city maneuverability caught the eye of BMW, who bought the project along with its tooling and made its own version, keeping the name.

Using a BMW motorcycle engine this time, the BMW Isetta spawned two more variants and became a resounding success for the Bavarian car maker, with over 150,000 units being sold between 1955 and 1962. Part of its success was also thanks to the Suez Energy Crisis, but no one can argue with the cuteness of its bubble car design as also being a very good reason.

Updated 9/1/2015: Our man Jonathan Lopez took some pics at Monterey Car Week. Enjoy!

Click past the jump to read more about the BMW Isetta.

Read more
1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag

1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag

When you are thinking about a BMW Isetta, impressive output is definitely the last thing you are taking under consideration. In fact, an original BMW Isetta only delivered a total of 13 horsepower, so nothing impressive here. With this in mind it is pretty much impossible to even consider a 730-horsepower Isetta, right?

Well, as impossible as it may sound, the guys over Hot Wheels unveiled back in 1998 the "Whatta Drag" — a car that initially started as a toy. Thanks to the amazing imagination of Bruce Weiner, the Isetta Whatta Drag became a reality in 2005. As you could imagine, this cool Whatta Drag only keeps the body shell from an original 1959 BMW Isetta, because everything else is pretty much new.

Under the hood, it gets a 502-cubic-inch Chevrolet big-block crate engine mated to a two-speed manual transmission. The V-8 engine is equipped with a BDS supercharger, twin Holley 750 CFM double-pumper carburetors and Zoomies exhaust headers. The result is a pretty amazing 730 horsepower — a number that seems monstrous for the tiny Isetta.

Next to that amazing output level, this special Isetta has been specially equipped for burnouts and donuts thanks to an AP balance bar incorporated into the dual-circuit disc-brake system. The Isetta-turned-dragster also received the suspension system from an M3 and custom drag-racing wheels with a Sumitomo HTRZ II tires.

If the car caught your attention, you will be happy to know it will be auctioned by RM Auctions on February 16, but prepare to shell out about $100k to acquire it.

Click past the jump to read the press release

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BMW's electric baby renderings

BMW’s electric baby renderings

BMW will unveil a small Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) sometime in 2012. Supposed to be called Isetta, the future tiny car was created because of new Californian regulations which require big car makers to sell between a few hundred and a few thousand ZEVs every year from 2012.

BMW chief Norbert Reithofer recently said the company “would be obliged to sell a Zero Emissions Vehicle under the US regulations and that a battery car was “the most likely answer”.

Reithofer also said that BMW could have built just a few hundred cars to meet the US regulations but admitted that the company was also wondering if it could use the basic concept “not just for an electric car but also for a range of city cars”. These cars would use petrol and diesel motors, and could even feature BMW motorcycle engines.

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New BMW Isetta renderings

New BMW Isetta renderings

There were lots of rumors lately about BMW creating a new model or a new badge that can be placed under the Mini. We can’t give you a positive answer to that question yet, but what I can do, is show you a rendering of how it may look the BMW Isetta, the iconic model from the 50’s.

There is something I have to say abut it, the model looks much better than the Smart Fortwo.

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BMW lsetta to make a comeback

BMW lsetta to make a comeback

First came the Beetle. Then came the Mini followed by the 500. Is the Isetta going to join the bandwagon? Looks like it. BMW have apparently been working on a new range of eco-friendly and fuel-efficient cars. Auto Express reports that this new range could be named Isetta and would come with small turbocharged petrol and diesel engines. These engines will be cheap to build and would deliver excellent fuel economy and least emissions.

The Isetta was bubble car with 3 wheels. Just like its classmates, it was rear-engined and extremely small and easy to drive. It had refrigerator-like front doors which was its unique feature.

The trend of updating yesteryears small cars with style and technology in accordance to today’s requirements is becoming very popular. Especially the small cars seem to influence everyone. Is moving backwards the easiest way for manufacturing small cars? I’ll leave this open.

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