The origins of the Isetta began with the Italian firm Iso SpA who in the early 1950s were building refrigerators, motor scooters, and small three-wheeled trucks. The owner of the company Renzo Rivolta made up his mind to focus efforts on building a small car for mass distribution. In 1952 his dream began to take form with a small car that used the existing engine of a motorbike they built called the Iso Motto 200 and with that the Isetta was born. The first microcar prototypes had only one .....
rear wheel but later changed because the 3-wheel design was more prone to rolling over. With its bubble-like windows and overall egg shape it became known as a bubble car, a name also given to other similar vehicles. Rivolta understood the need for a cheap compact town car and with the introduction of his Isetta he began selling the licensing to several different countries including Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Renzo was proud of what he helped create and in 1954 he entered several Isettas into the legendary Mille Miglia where they all were awarded the top three spots in the economy classification.
BMW took notice of this microcar and began talks soon after in mid-1954 and bought not just a license to manufacture but the complete Isetta body tooling as well. The first BMW Isetta came to life in April 1955 and was the world's first mass produced car to achieve a fuel consumption of 78 MPG. 1956 was the first full year of production and BMW sold 22,000 Isettas and as the microcar caught on with popularity, BMW saw the opportunity to improve upon its design. The engine was upgraded to a 298-cc four-stroke single cylinder capable of 13hp and 50 mpg at 50 mph. BMW continued their design improvements in late-1956 and the Isetta saw its bubble windows replaced with longer, sliding side windows to help reduce the fishbowl effect of sun shining on the windows. By 1962 BMW had built 161,728 Isettas making it the top-selling, single-cylinder car in the world!
We are excited to offer our 1958 BMW Isetta 300 with its original 298-cc four stroke engine that produces 13hp to the rear wheels and is paired with a 4-speed manual transmission with reverse. Features a unique Dynastart system which incorporated a compact starter and generator into one unit. A rare microcar with its iconic hinged center front door with connected steering wheel that leads to the single seat large enough for 2 and with a cargo area that also holds the spare tire. A left-hand drive with the gear shifter and choke controls also located on the left side for easy access. The Isetta's easy sliding windows provide some fresh air in the cabin and a knob under the seat that adjusts the heat flow. The sunroof can be retracted and provides a more spacious, convertible-like feel when out on the road!
Restoration began in 2018 by the previous Illinois family who maintained possession of this Isetta for the past 58 years! It began with the cars only repaint from a Light Blue/White to a more medium blue/white two-tone you see it in today. In 2021, the engine was removed for new gaskets for the valve cover, crankcase, cylinder head, oil pan, intake to be installed along with new cylinder head bolts, accelerator cable, brake light switch, hand brake cable, and shift rod bushings. Also newly installed were new points, spark plug, brushes set, ignition cable, ignition cable resistor plug, and wiring harness.
Once purchased by St. Louis Car Museum, our service team began the finishing work to bring it back to road-worthy status. This included a clutch rod & cable; brake master cylinder; rebuilt carb with new gasket & float; air box, air filter hose, & air filter; new ignition switch, battery, horn, and fuel tank; new chrome taillight rings; all four tire tubes inside the 3.50-10 Golden Tyres whitewalls were replaced; and all new exhaust to include header pipe, muffler, & mounts. We also have our upholstery shop add a custom blue, black, & white plaid fabric interior with all new seat foam. The results make for a delightful presentation found commonly in period cars of German origin. Included are receipts from the former owners and an original service manual with information and diagrams. We are very pleased to showcase this BMW Isetta 300 that is sure to be the star of any show and grab attention anytime it is out. Thank you for your interest and please feel free to contact us regarding this rare piece of BMW microcar history!