1958 BMW Isetta 300
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RM Sotheby's - Hershey
11th Oct 2013
1958 BMW Isetta 300
13 bhp, 295 cc four-stroke single-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission with chain/sprocket drive, leading-arm front suspension with coil springs, rigid rear axle with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, and front and rear drum brakes. Wheelbase: 59.1 in. The Isetta was a vehicle born of necessity, and it is often regarded as the car that saved BMW. Faced with declining motorcycle sales, the burgeoning middle class in its home market, and the political events of the 1950s leading to oil shortages in Europe, the microcar craze was ripe for success, and it was a car that BMW desperately needed. As the motorcycle market declined, BMW began moving toward high-volume car production. For the second time in its history, BMW built a vehicle under license as a means of getting into production quickly. The two-seat vehicle with a tubular chassis and unique front-opening door became known as das rollende Ei, or the rolling egg. BMW approached the owner of Italian company Iso and its designer/owner Count Rivolta with the idea of purchasing the rights to build the car. Rivolta sold not only the production rights to the Iso, but also much of the body tooling as well. Debuting at the 1955 Frankfurt Auto Show, BMW fitted the car with its own 12-horsepower, 247-cubic centimeter four-stroke engine, later upsizing it to 295 cubic centimeters and adding one additional horsepower. The light body, in combination with the motorcycle engine, offered efficient fuel consumption, along with a mere DM 2,580 purchase price, just 500 more than the R25 motorcycle that shared its engine. Between 1955 and 1962, BMW produced 161,728 Isetta 250 and 300 models, making it BMW’s best-selling model to date. The Isetta 300 offered here, with the 295-cubic centimeter engine, has received a complete ground-up restoration to very high standards. This vehicle was painted a cheerful red and has tan upholstery, and it is equipped with sliding side windows and a sunroof, giving it a cabriolet-like feel during summer driving. Other accessories include a windshield wiper, chrome bumpers and bumperettes, and a driver’s side mirror. Today, with microcars becoming more and more popular and rising in value, the Isetta is a hot commodity. This example provides a wonderful chance for the new microcar owner to discover just what all the fun is about!
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