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Lot 16: Isetta Isetta 300

Collectors' Motor Cars, Bonhams & Goodman (14 September 2008)

Popular during the 1950s and 1960s, the diminutive 'bubblecar' or 'cabin scooter' is currently enjoying a revival of interest - not surprisingly given the congested state of today's urban roads. Nowadays though, the Bubble's attraction has just as much to do with fashion as practicality. One of the more successful designs of the cabin scooter's heyday was the BMW Isetta, a design the German firm manufactured under license from its Italian originator Iso. Although at first glance a three-wheeler, the German-built Isetta used a pair of closely spaced wheels at the rear and was powered by a BMW single-cylinder four-stroke motorcycle engine of 247cc. The coachwork of early examples featured a side-hinged single door at the front, roll-top sunroof and fixed side windows, while later (1957-onwards) models incorporated sliding side windows for better ventilation. These improved models displaced 297cc, and the 'big' Isetta 300 was reckoned capable of 65mph and 55mpg.

This example was purchased new and first registered on the 3rd May 1963 to Miss Fanny Elizabeth Pickett who at that time resided at 105 Brougham Street, Wellington. With the exception of the locking fuel cap and bumper over-riders, all factory options were fitted from new. Miss Pickett was disabled from birth and some minor modifications were made to the car to make it easier for her to operate, though it should be noted that other than a bound edged slit in the floor mat there is no evidence of these alterations, which have since been removed.

Miss Pickett later moved to Palmerston North and became a stalwart supporter and employee of the Crippled Children's Society. Her wishes were that upon her death the Isetta be sold by public tender, the proceeds going to the local Crippled Children's Society. Tenders closed Friday 28th October 1983 and the successful tenderer was Andrew Thomson of the Thomson Motorcycle Museum. Transfer of ownership took place on the 11th November 1983 with the odometer reading 21,055 miles. Maintained but never restored, the Isetta has now traveled 21,071 miles and benefits from a recent complete brake overhaul and engine oil change, while the front wheel bearings have been repacked with grease and a new battery, tyres and tubes fitted. We are advised that the vehicle drives exceptionally well, the only outstanding maintenance required being a muffler repair.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars
Bonhams & Goodman, Nelson New Zealand
Lot Number16
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$22000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$24860
Condition rating0
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