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Lot 603: BMW Isetta 300 Coup�

Exceptional Motorcars And Automobilia, Bonhams & Butterfields (13 August 2010)

Conceived in Italy by Renzo Rivolta's Isothermos company, the Isetta found little acceptance in Italy but was received enthusiastically in Germany where a craze for micro-cars swept through the country in the mid-50's.

BMW, struggling at the time to make money seized upon Iso's Isetta, introducing it in 1955 and enjoying substantial success both in its home market and in exports. It was an exceptional example of getting maximum function into a minimum of space, a streamlined ovoid that quickly earned the nickname "das rollende Ei", the rolling egg, in Germany.

The compact two-seat body's most notable feature was the ingenious entry, through the front of the Isetta where the hinged steering column swung open and out of the way with the door. The compact 298cc single cylinder air cooled overhead valve engine was derived from, but not shared with, BMW's motorcycles. 13hp and 14 lb-ft torque were delivered through a 4-speed gearbox with chain drive to the live rear axle with its two closely-spaced wheels. Leading arms with coil springs controlled the independent front suspension.

Import into the U.S. began in 1958 through Max Hoffman's New York dealership and production would continue with some modifications (and a single rear wheel for markets where 3-wheelers were taxed at lower motorcycle rates) through 1962. Total production of the BMW-Isetta 300 totaled 87,416 and, while they were as inexpensive as their size indicated, only $1,048 POE in the U.S. and 2,580 DM in Germany, the volume was crucial for BMW's survival and development into the major manufacturer it is today.

This very handsome and attractive BMW-Isetta 300 Coup� was restored only two years ago in the Netherlands and has only just arrived in the U.S. Finished in red with gray and red interior upholstery and trim, it is equipped with the folding sunroof which is virtually standard on Isettas and is ready to be put into immediate use. Sold on a California Certificate of Title.

Lot Details
Auction Exceptional Motorcars And Automobilia
Bonhams & Butterfields, Quail Lodge, CA
TypeCar
Lot Number603
Estimate$25000-$30000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$12000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$14040
Year1959
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number427245
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2