BMW Made A Bubble Car. Who Knew?

09/12/2012

Of the legions of teeny, tiny cars roaming Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, who knew that one of them was produced by BMW? Well the wise gentlemen at What’s My Car Worth did. In tonight’s 8:30p E/P episode, they are at Amelia Island considering some unique European cars.

I’d say the BMW Isetta fits the bill as being unique.

800px-BMW_isetta
A 1955 BMW Isetta at the BMW Museum, Germany | Credit: Wikimedia 

The Isetta was an Italian designed car that pretty much coined the term “bubble car” when it debuted in Italy in 1953. The cheap, reliable little slip of a car was produced under license in several countries and one of the marques to get in on the craze was BMW in 1955.

The Germans made the car their own by intriguingly affixing the headlamps like little cones to the side of the car. They also reworked the powerplant around a BMW one-cylinder, four stroke 247 motorcycle engine which generated 13 hp – a step up from the two-stroke models in other countries. Top speed was around 53 mph. 

Over time BMW re-engineered their Isetta so much that parts couldn’t be shared between their model and their Italian or other European counterparts. As time went on, BMW continued to tinker with the car to add additional power to the engine and adding unusual features such as an elaborate chain case to the rear wheels from the power train in order to create a tension free gear box and a soundproofed environment. Size also grew – and while still considered a microcar – the BMW Isetta ended up becoming longer, with more power.

The BMW Isetta was special – when it launched in 1955 it was the world’s first mass-production, 3 liter/100km car. The last BMW Isetta rolled off the production line in1 962 and set the record for being the top selling single car in the world – with over 161,000 units sold.

So therein lies a conundrum for tonight’s 8:30p E/P episode of What’s My Car Worth. With so many models sold, that could lower the value. Nor do we know which year or model they'll encounter. On the other hand, whatever is being shown at Amelia Island so odds are it’s in great condition.

Tune in to What’s My Car Worth starting at 8:00p and then look for the Isetta in the 8:30p E/P episode.


Visit daily for posts about the shows and spirit of Velocity, an upscale male lifestyle network, featuring the best of the automotive, sports, adventure and travel genres.

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