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Lot 011: 1959 BMW ISETTA 300

Motor Cars, H&H Sales Limited (21 November 2007)

Produced by Renzo Rivolta's Milanese Iso SpA conglomerate, the Isetta was the result of an evolutionary chain that had begun with fridges (hence perhaps the design's distinctively large, single-piece front door) and progressed via scooters and three-wheel mini trucks. With a specification that included a compact rear-mounted drivetrain, canvas sunroof, independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes, the newcomer caused a sensation upon launch at the 1953 Turin Motor Show. Intended to provide low-cost, economical transport for two people and their luggage, the diminutive four-wheeler was capable of barely 50mph. Nevertheless, despite this limited turn of speed, a factory-entered team of Isettas won their class (and the index of performance) at the 1954 Mille Miglia. Suitably impressed, a struggling BMW (whose lavish model range was somewhat at odds with the pervasive economic climate) approached Iso with a view to building the Isetta under license. Suitably re-engineered, the first BMW Isetta appeared in April 1955. Updated the following year with the adoption of sliding windows and a larger 298cc single cylinder four-stroke engine (liberated from the R27 motorcycle) that made 54mph a possibility, its popularity was increased still further by the Suez crisis. With sales booming Europe-wide, BMW lent its blessing to a British Isetta factory based at the Southern Locomotive Works on New England Street, Brighton. Only in operation between1957 - 1964, this UK subsidiary was quick to create a bespoke (tax efficient) three-wheeler version to both left- and right-hand drive specifications. Finished in maroon with grey upholstery, this particular left-hand drive example is described by the vendor as being in "OK" condition with regard to its electrical equipment, interior trim, chassis, bodywork, paintwork and wheels / tyres (while, he rates the manual gearbox as "good"). Said to have been "dry stored for years", '451 AUE' has apparently not run since being given an engine overhaul (new big-end, piston etc). As such, it will need recommissioning prior to use.

Lot Details
Auction Motor Cars
H&H Sales Limited, The Pavilion Gardens, Buxton
TypeCar
Lot Number011
Estimate£1500-£2500
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£4290
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1959
Condition rating
Registration number451 AUE
Mileage-
Chassis numberA315630
Engine numberA315630
Engine capacity (cc)300
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors