Lot 456

Hershey 2023

1957 BMW Isetta 300


$22,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hershey, Pennsylvania



Chassis No.
Canadian Registration
  • Features the later, more powerful engine and a four-speed motorcycle gearbox
  • Charming sky blue and white exterior
  • Equipped with sliding windows and fabric sunroof
  • Originally delivered new to Hamburg, Germany

The Isetta was a vehicle born of necessity and it is often regarded as the car that saved BMW. Faced with declining motorcycle sales, a burgeoning middle class in its home market, and the political events of the 1950s leading to oil shortages in Europe, the microcar craze made it ripe for success—a success that BMW desperately needed.

For the second time in its history, BMW built a vehicle under license as a means of kickstarting production. BMW approached the owner of Italian company Iso and its owner and designer Count Renzo Rivolta with the idea of purchasing the rights to build the car. Rivolta sold not only the production rights to the Iso, but also much of the body tooling.

BMW debuted the Isetta at the 1955 Frankfurt Auto Show and fitted it with its own 12-horsepower 247 cubic-centimeter four-stroke engine, later upsizing it to 297 cubic centimeters with 13 horsepower, as seen in this model. A clutch-operated, four-speed motorcycle gearbox drove the twin rear wheels, which were placed just 20.5 inches apart. The tubular chassis provided for a light body, which weighed in at just 700 pounds. In combination with the motorcycle engine, it offered miserly fuel consumption and a mere DM 2,580 purchase price, which was just DM 500 more than the R25 motorcycle with which it shared its engine. Between 1955 and 1962, BMW produced 161,728 standard Isettas (250/300). The little BMW offers genuine 50-mph performance, while also delivering up to a claimed 70 mpg.

Presented today wearing a sky blue exterior over black upholstery, it features many pieces of desirable factory equipment, including the more powerful 297 cubic-centimeter engine, sliding windows, and a fabric sunroof. A driver’s side mirror, bright chrome bumpers, and a handsome set of chrome hubs with whitewall tires round out the charming profile of this particular Isetta 300.

Though its earlier history is unknown, build information from BMW indicates this Isetta was originally delivered to a dealer in Hamburg, Germany finished in a two-tone red and white exterior. Recent mechanical work is said to have included servicing the brakes, replacing the master cylinder and wheel cylinders.

Surely one of the most charming automobiles on the road, its desirable factory specifications make this Isetta an ideal acquisition for marque enthusiasts, micro-car fans, or anyone wishing to inject some whimsy and novelty into their collection.