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BMW Isetta. A unique and beloved dwarf car.

ER Classics Desktop 2022

In 1955, a special car model debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. That model would become one of the most famous dwarf cars in history: the BMW Isetta. It caused a stir, just like the combination with the large V8 models from BMW. The construction with special deviating track widths and the fully hinged front - which served as an entrance door - were particularly striking. This also applied to the steering column that moves with the front.

Design from ISO…

The history of the car was just as startling as the model itself. In the difficult 1950s for BMW, the management of the Bavarian manufacturer was eagerly looking for a solution to bring in cash. BMW bought the rights from the ISO company and then built the Isetta. The Germans hardly adapted the Italian design. The steel tubular chassis, the suspension structure (pulling longitudinal arms and coil springs at the front, rigid driven axle with leaf spring at the rear) and the entire body structure remained intact.


... but a motorcycle from your own home

But BMW did place a power source from its own house in the dwarf car. The 25 cc four-stroke single-cylinder was taken from the BMW R247 motorcycle. An OHV that delivered a power of 12 HP at a speed of 5800 revolutions per minute. The chassis – with two independently suspended front wheels – remained the same as the original design. In 1956 the BMW Isetta 300 was released, and the now Bavarian Motocoupé larger windows. The BMW Isetta became successful. BMW built more than 161.000 units in eight years.

Gallery Aaldering offered this beautiful Isetta 250 – with matching numbers – from one of its last years of construction. The 1961 example was completely body-off restored. Also, the body was completely stripped and bare, before it received a new paint treatment. In addition, this Isetta underwent a complete technical overhaul. It was a high-quality restoration with great eye for originality, details and fit. The small BMW is equipped with a manual transmission with 4 forward gears and a reverse position.

The unique BMW was there with only 387 kilometers on the clock.

The photos come from Gallery Aaldering.

16 Comments

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  1. The Isetta had no reverse. The motorcycle engine was taken literally, with only forced air cooling built on it, and lower compression.

  2. You also had the Zundapp Janus with a door at the front and back. There are still nice videos on You Tube. I used to drive a lot in the Heinkel, although it was different but not exactly safe. Nice to read.

  3. You also had the Zundapp Janus a 4 wheeler with 2 entrances. I lived there a lot. An uncle had a Heinkel and my brother a BMW. They weren't exactly safe, but they were fun to watch. You can find nice videos of it on You Tube.

  4. That was a strange time. In the BMW showroom, it was next to that V8 mastodon. They had nothing else. It would have been close if BMW had ceased to exist.

    Italian ingenuity built in Bavaria.

    The nice thing about these kinds of cars is that you can restore them in your attic.

  5. As a child of roughly 7 to 10 years, these cars were an indispensable part of the street scene in our village: quite a few 70-somethings, and that striking limp neighbor across the street who struggled with his sticks in the 3/4 wheeler ...
    At that time I drew all the cars that came to my mind, from memory at home as much as possible. I still have the results of that. Incidentally, there were more 3-wheelers in the streets, the Vespa (however strange, but a French product), and the very frequent Messerschmitt, where I still see the heads of the married couples seated one behind the other. What times…

  6. Heinkel, Trojan, the BMW Isetta or the Messerschmitt 'Cabinenroller'. Well, I think all three of them have a high degree of endearment, if I'm honest. That whole front that hinges away with handlebars and all. Very inventive! Relive old memories. Very nice to see this beautiful red car in this report.

  7. For the enthusiasts, the Microlino will soon be released, a modern derivative of the Isetta. Electric, yes, but with a high cuddly factor.

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      • Totally agree. The Heinkel was a much more charming little cart.
        That we, now elderly, got into such a suicide weapon/cart and then went far away with it.
        When I was younger, there was a friend who had such a BMW Isetta. There was something about the idle adjustment. My training at the AMTS in The Hague was not yet finished and we were also allowed to introduce “study objects” there ourselves. The laughter didn't stop there, but it really was called a car.
        I had it all weekend so I drove it to my side job. At V&D with all those nice saleswomen. What I thought I would notice at least!!!

        I did, but not in the way I had in mind. As I drove away I heard something and felt something. “Kloöiink” was the sound. And what I felt? Nothing because there was no movement in it anymore.
        Good advice was nearby, because with the hands of a few sturdy colleagues, no, not the nice girls, the BMW Isetta was put in a parking space.
        Once at school, the chain guard had to be opened. There we saw the broken chain that was caught between the case and sprocket.
        And then 55 years later, that cart is presented digitally here.
        No, because that is too nice a coincidence, this is not the one from then!
        Hans Visser

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