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Lot 697: 1960 BMW ISETTA THREE WHEELER

The Sharpe Family Collection, Christies (1 July 2005)



Blue with green tartan interior

Engine: single cylinder, four stroke, overhead valve, 297cc, 13bhp; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: front, swing arms, rear, leaf springs; Brakes: hydraulic front and rear. Left hand drive.

The Isetta was the brainchild of Renzo Rivolta of Milan, a fridge and scooter manufacturer whose decision to become involved with car manufacture was heralded with the introduction of the Isetta in 1953. It revolutionised the microcar world with an extremely canny, unusual, and well-executed design (arguably the first of the "Bubbles") that included features such as a folding roof in case an accident should trap the occupants, and an engine placed ahead and to the right of the rear wheels as a counterbalance to the weight of the driver. Unlikely participation and success in the Mille Miglia races of 1954 and 1955 boosted the car's reputation, but it never caught on in an Italian market dominated by the Fiat 500. Rivolta sold the rights around the world, most successfully to the ailing Bavarian car and motorcycle manufacturer BMW who replaced the engine with their own motorbike unit and scored an instant smash hit in the hotbed of microcar production and consumption that was their home market. The 400,000 microcars made by BMW between 1956 and 1965 saved the company, financing the development of the 1500 and 2000 series which laid the corner-stones for today's reputation for quality saloons.

The example offered here, although left hand drive, is one of the cars that were manufactured in a disused locomotive works at Brighton under licence from BMW. It is presented in "as found" condition, and as such offers an ideal candidate for a rewarding restoration. Its blue paint appears to be original and is in reasonably good condition while the interior's green tartan upholstery has survived in good condition. This car is sold with a replacement old-style logbook, issued in 1974.

Lot Details
Auction The Sharpe Family Collection
Christies, Essex
TypeCar
Lot Number697
Estimate£2000-£4000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£4582
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1960
Condition rating
Registration numberPGV 628
Mileage-
Chassis number326105
Engine number326105
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors