1959 BMW Isetta 300
18.2 cid, 1 cyl air-cooled, 13 bhp

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After World War II, most of Germany’s citizens were on bicycles or motorcycles.  BMW’s factories had been stripped by 16 nations as spoils of war. A small group of BMW aficionados, aided by the Deutsche Bank, managed to raise enough capital to resume automobile production, but there were few Germans with the money to buy the pre-war luxury sedans BMW was known for before the war. BMW turned to Iso of Italy, where it acquired the manufacturing rights to the Isetta “bubble” car. The wheel-base was so short that the only way into the car was through the front of the car, which doubled as a door and was also fitted with the steering wheel and dash. The power came from a 247 cc BMW motorcycle engine delivering 12 hp and operating through a floor-mounted gear shift. In 1956 BMW fitted the car with a 300 cc engine capable of producing 13 hp, and a soft-top model became available. The last Isetta rolled off the line in 1962 after some 161,728 units had been manufactured.


  • 4-speed manual transmission
  • Top speed: 50-53 mph
  • Fuel mileage: 40-45 mpg city
  • 87,416 produced from 1956 to 1962
  • Price new: $1,048