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Lot 287: BMW Isetta 300

Arizona Biltmore, RM Auctions (19 January 2012)

13 bhp, 298 cc air-cooled OHV single-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission with chain/sprocket drive, leading-arm front suspension with coil springs, rigid rear axle with quarter-elliptic leaf springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 59.1"

" Recent, complete body-off restoration to original specifications " Early-production example of BMW's rolling egg

First developed by Renzo Rivolta's Iso works in Italy, the Isetta was also license-built by BMW in West Germany, where it's unusual shape begat the whimsical nickname das rollende Ei (the rolling egg). The Isetta may have sold poorly in Italy, but the timing for BMW was perfect, as it quickly became fashionable despite its humble people's car roots. Thanks to its ease of operation in high-traffic European cities, the Isetta also enjoyed widespread use with West Germany's Bundespost (postal service). In the United States, the Isetta achieved cult status following several appearances on popular TV variety shows of the era.

Beginning with the Model 250, which entered production in early 1955 with a 247-cc single-cylinder engine, the basic Isetta design evolved into the Isetta 300 with a slightly more-powerful 298-cc engine for 1956. It measured just seven feet, nine inches long and only four-and-a-half feet wide. As a result, Isetta owners were never at a loss for a parking space, contributing to their strong popularity among city dwellers. In fact, in many ways the success of this incredibly small and economical automobile saved BMW from being taken over by Mercedes-Benz, its much larger rival, during the late 1950s.

This early-production 1956 Isetta 300 is offered from a knowledgeable, enthusiast and restorer of these charming 1950s icons. It received a complete and professionally executed body-off restoration to its correct and factory-original specifications and is finished in grey-blue, complemented by a proper plaid-trimmed interior and equipped with a sunroof. Beautifully and correctly restored, this Isetta is certainly one of the finest examples on the market today.

Lot Details
Auction Arizona Biltmore
RM Auctions, Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa Phoenix, Arizona
TypeCar
Lot Number287
Estimate$25000-$35000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$35750
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1956
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number493880
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors