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Lot '92: BMW Isetta 300

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (23 June 2010)

Built by the Italian firm of Iso, the Isetta caused a sensation when it was lunched at the Turin Motor Show in November 1953. Unlike anything seen before, not only was it small (only 7.5ft long by 4.5ft wide) and egg-shaped with bubble-type windows, but the entire front end of the car hinged outwards to allow entry and exit. The steering wheel and instrument panel also swung out with the door as this made access to the single bench seat easier. Power came from a 236cc 9.5bhp two-cylinder scooter engine mated to a manual gearbox with four forward speeds and reverse. A chain drive connected the gearbox to a solid rear axle with a pair of closely-spaced rear wheels. Top speed was about 47mph with up to 70mpg economy.

In 1954 Iso entered several Isettas in the legendary Mille Miglia where they took the top three spots in the economy classification and averaged 43mph. They also captured the attention of BMW who soon made a deal to design and manufacture their own version of the car under licence. BMW quickly made many changes, including a new 247cc single-cylinder four-stroke engine, borrowed from the BMW R25 motorcycle, that made 12bhp and boosted top speed to around 50mph. In 1956 they fitted longer side windows and a larger 298cc engine to produce the BMW Isetta 300, now with a heady 13bhp and improved torque that made hill climbing a little easier. Between 1957 and 1962, BMW also produced the 300 in right-hand drive form at a factory in the former Brighton railway works.

First registered in March 1962, this particular 300 is one of those Brighton-built cars and has recently been treated to a money-no-object restoration by the current vendor. Remarkably sound and original to begin with, it was stripped to bare metal and only required two small welding patches on the wheelarches before it was repainted  the floorpan is said to be totally original and unwelded.

The interior was reupholstered in cream leather with red piping to match the paintwork. The engine and gearbox were rebuilt to the highest standard by Mike Hearne, parts manager of the Isetta UK Club, with small modifications to enhance reliability and performance. Currently MOTd and taxed, the car is now said to be in excellent condition throughout, to be very reliable and to run like a clock.

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
TypeCar
Lot Number'92
Estimate£15000-£17000
Outcome NOT SOLD
Hammer Price-
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1956
Condition rating0
Registration number193 BNW
Mileage-
Chassis number331289
Engine number331289
Engine capacity (cc)298
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors