1963 BMW Isetta 300 Microcar
|Engine||Single cylinder, 298cc|
|Colour||Blue & white|
|Trim||Cloth & Vinyl|
BMW’s Isetta was the most commercially successful micro-car ever made, with almost 200,000 sold between 1955 and 1964. Originally designed and manufactured by an Italian company – Iso – who patented the front-opening door mechanism in 1951, BMW acquired the production rights in 1955 at a time when the Bavarian company was struggling to develop a new full-size automobile and many argue the decision to build the Isetta ultimately saved the brand. BMW initially replaced Iso’s two-stroke engine with the four-stroke unit sourced from their R25 motorcycle before launching a larger, more powerful 300 model in February 1956. Designed for export markets, the 300 used the engine from BMW’s R27 motorcycle and featured numerous improvements, including sliding windows and better suspension. BMW also produced Isettas under licence in Britain at a converted locomotive works in Brighton to avoid crippling import duties, using locally made chassis, brakes and trim, with approximately 30,000 built there in both three and four-wheeled guises, including those destined for Canada and Australia. British-made Isettas had the door hinged from the right-hand side and the steering column relocated to the right side as well, requiring a counterweight on the left side to compensate for the driver’s weight, along with Dunlop tyres and Lucas electrics replacing German Hella and Bosch components. With superb fuel economy and innovative design, the Isetta was perfectly suited to increasingly crowded European cities and clever marketing saw celebrities like Elvis Presley help to popularise the model around the world. The Isetta is now a collector’s item that never fails to attract attention and few good examples survive in Australia.