Microcars have become popular among classic car enthusiasts. In 1953, Iso Autoveicoli came out with the Iso Isetta. In 1955, BMW came out with its own Isetta. The Isetta has a unique design with a three-wheel, one-door layout. There are two wheels in the front and a single rear wheel. Stability is not an issue with the Isetta. The single door is in the front of the car, making it difficult to escape when the front of the car is parked too close to a wall. There is also no reverse gear on the Isetta, making it hard to get out of parking spaces without getting out of the car. BMW produced 161,360 Isettas from 1955 to 1962.
I first saw the BMW Isetta 300 at the 2010 Houston Classy Chassis: Councours d’Elegance. I am not a big fan of microcars so the Isetta did not catch my eyes. To me, there were much better cars on display. In a stadium with Ferraris, Cobras, a Duesenberg, and a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport, the BMW Isetta just did not stand out.
The BMW Isetta 300 is powered by a 0.3L (298cc) 1-cylinder engine, paired with a four-speed transmission, that produces 13 hp and 13.6 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 27.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 53 mph. Prices for the Isetta 300 when it was new in 1955 was $1,093. It is a slow, sluggish, underpowered, inexpensive car. But it weighed 770 lbs and got over 60 mpg.
Top Gear demonstrated the stability and being stuck inside an Isetta during Series 15, Episode 2. Â It is playable in Grand Theft Auto 2, Choro G HQ, and Top Gear: Dare Devil.
It was tough to decide if the BMW Isetta 300 is a classic car or a clunker. I did not see it on “worst car lists.” The Isetta is slow, sluggish, and impractical, but it was on display at a Concours d’Elegance and no clunkers would be on display at a Concours d’Elegance. Isettas are also highly collectable cars. I have to consider the BMW Isetta 300 a classic car.
Photo taken from a camera phone
Originally written on June 14, 2011