At $21,000, Will This 1957 BMW Isetta Prove a Small Wonder?

The seller says the Isetta was put into storage pre-pandemic but is a good solid example of BMW’s bubble car under the dust.

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Nice Price or No Dice 1957 BMW Isetta
Photo: Craigslist

Not many cars can boast of the steering wheel also being the door pull but that’s just the brag offered by today’s Nice Price or No Dice Isetta. Let’s see if its price offers some additional bragging rights.

The one question that most of you had for the seller of yesterday’s 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser was why the truck was being put on the market just a month and a half after being the recipient of a full engine rebuild. That perplexing quandary aside, the big Toyota seemed unquestionably solid and with over 405K on the clock obviously free of any lingering factory foibles. That fact and a $7,000 asking price weren’t enough to overcome the nagging question of timing, however, and the Land Cruiser fell in a narrow 56 percent No Dice loss.

Interestingly, Toyota’s Land Cruiser can trace its roots back to the Willys Jeep of WWII. Its original iteration was a homebrew version of the WWII Jeep, commissioned by the U.S. Army for use in the Korean war. Enabling Japanese manufacture was not just a way of securing production closer to the conflict, but also an attempt to invigorate Japan’s manufacturing base and hence the economy as part of the Marshal Plan of post-war nation rebuilding.

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Photo: Craigslist

Similar efforts were underway in Europe in an attempt to get the continent back on its collective feet. Much of the investment was in manufacturing, with special effort towards getting motorbike and small automobile production going. This engendered a wonderful era of wacky bubblecars that arose as manufacturers attempted to make the most of what little resources were available. One of those is represented by today’s 1957 BMW Isetta 300.

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The Isetta was one of the most successful of the post-war micro-cars, despite it being one of the most unusual. In Germany, its single front-opening door and diminutive stature earned it the nickname Sargwagen or coffin car.

Image for article titled At $21,000, Will This 1957 BMW Isetta Prove a Small Wonder?
Photo: Craigslist
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BMW didn’t originate the Isetta but instead built the single-cylinder powered cars under license from the Italian refrigerator maker Iso, who was already churning out the scooter-based cars down in Bresso, Italy. And yes, this was the same Iso that later would build the Rivolta GT cars. In fact, in Italian, the name Isetta means “little Iso.”

In addition to Germany, Iso licensed the assembly of the twee little Isettas in France, Brazil, and the UK. BMW eventually re-engineered the car to take a 298cc BMW single adapted from the R25/3 motorcycle, thus creating the Isetta 300. This provided the car with more than twice the horsepower of your average push-mower, and a 53 mph top speed. While driving it’s best to consider the 4 inches between your feet and whatever you might slam into, so that speed (if it can be called that) is probably just fine for the fat little teardrop.

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Image for article titled At $21,000, Will This 1957 BMW Isetta Prove a Small Wonder?
Photo: Craigslist

This Moto Coupe Deluxe edition presents in Guards Red with a white top and the world’s tiniest fabric sunroof. Or at least that’s what is lying under the five or so years of dust that has settled on the car.

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According to the ad, the seller privately imported the Isetta a few years back and enjoyed it for a bit before putting it into storage a couple of years before the start of the recent pandemic. The ad shows us the current condition—dusty and with tires in need of air—as well as in its pre-pandemic glory.

Image for article titled At $21,000, Will This 1957 BMW Isetta Prove a Small Wonder?
Photo: Craigslist
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Per the seller, the present state belies the fact that the car is a “Good solid example.” It’s also said to come with a clean title despite all the dirt elsewhere. There’s no word on whether or not the car was simply driven into its present storage situation and left, or if it was properly prepped before doing so, having its fuel drained and whatnot. As such, some consideration should be given as to how to wake up Rip Van Wagon so it can be made road-worthy again.

That could get pricy and so keep that in mind when you consider the Bimmer Bubble’s $21,000 asking price. Will that price find favor amongst our voters? Or, is that too much for what’s arguably nothing more than a glorified golf cart?

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You decide!

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Long Beach, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to James Ryan for the hookup!

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