The BMW Isetta 300 is an italian designed microcar. Due to it’s egg shape design and bubble-like windows, it became what is known as the ‘bubble car’. On introduction, the Isetta caused a sensation. Measuring a mere 7.5ft long by 4.5ft wide, entry into the Isetta was through the front end. It was known in the event of a crash, the driver and the passenger would need to exit through the canvas sunroof. The steering wheel and instrument panel swung out with the single door, simplifying access to the single bench seat. In the engine room, power came from a split single two stroke motorcycle engine with the manual gearbox providing four forward speeds and a reverse gear. In 1954, several Isetta’s entered the legendary Mille Miglia where they took the top three spots in the economy classification. Over a distance of 1,000 miles, the drivers achieved an average speed of over 70 km/h (43 mph). Despite its initial success, the Isetta was beginning to slip in popularity in Italy due to the arrival of the Fiat 500c. The Isetta took over 30 seconds to reach 50 km/h from rest. with a top speed of about 75 km/h. The fuel tank held only 13 litres.
This 1957 BMW Isetta 300 arrived into Hong Kong around 2017 when it was first registered. It was believed the previous owner had the car restored and professionally repainted in a two-tone colour red/white. Correct parts were sourced to prepare the vehicle for a partial restore. After the assembly was completed, the previous owner decided to part with it and sell it to the current owner. This Isetta has been driven sparingly since the restoration and is now being listed at the Car Farm.
This Isetta 300 with a straight out of the mid 50’s red and white two tone paint, presents remarkable well on our inspection. Yes there is classic patina here and there but these light marks and blemishes are like battle scars that are a source of pride. All the chrome and trim bits like the side mirrors and front bumper present remarkably well. With its wide open round headlights hanging off either side of the bodywork, and narrowing rear with tail lights not to be outdone by the headlights, hang off the bodywork as well. The solid windows and greenhouse glass leave a field of exterior viewing almost panoramic with all the curved glass. A small red canvas sunroof is seen on top which is in good condition and of course the iconic full front swinging entry door complete with tilt out steering column and wheel for easy access. The rear of this Isetta 300 holds a luggage rack like a large rear spoiler similar to a Porsche 911 whale tale for keeping it fixed to the ground when cornering at high speed. The 10-inch wheels show evidence of patina and could be restored if wanted to but again, this is a three quarters of a century old car. The hub caps are original and would come up nicely with a deep polish and are wrapped by miniature 4.80-10’s front tires and 205/50R10 tires on the rear.
Interior and Trim
Extremely simple but yet comfortable and surprisingly roomier than one might imagine. The interior fits for two and is fitted with a single black vinyl bench with red piping around the edges. When seated and the front door is closed, the steering wheel and column magically come towards you giving you ergonomic access to the turn signals, a small column mounted speedometer, and an inside fender mounted on the left in reverse pattern, 4-speed manual shifter. A mini trio of pedals surrounds the steering column on the floor. A picnic basket is neatly placed in the back, which will come included with the sale of the car.
Engine and Running Gear
A 298cc motorcycle engine from BMW rests neatly in the mid section of the car. A 1-barrel Bing carburetor feeds this air cooled popper, and a 4-speed manual transmission propels you efficiently forward. A 6.24 rear gear ratio helps get the car up to speed. The car started at the turn of the key and surprisingly went up the steep hill road without any hassle at all. It will do 60km/h we are told but we didn’t dare try.
Nearly top of the bucket list for some of the Car Farm team to see these iconic little gems in existence and on our roads today. All ergonomics are made for the driver. It shifted smoothly too. On some occasions it needed to re-engage the clutch. Certainly the Isetta 300 does not have breakneck acceleration but the drive was smooth.
Overall, a real rare classic and to be in this condition, all working, this is a true find. For the true collector and will look classy in a collection.
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