Of course I’m going to start off BMW week with an Isetta. And this won’t be the last one. Anyone who knows me knows my passion for microcars, and the first one I ever saw was an Isetta. I’ll never forget how mind blowing it was. What the hell is that thing? The fact that it was a BMW just added to the astonishment for young Jonee. They made fancy cars that doctors drove. We were a Cadillac and Pontiac family at the time, so the concept of tiny European cars was literally foreign to me.
I grew up in Montvale, New Jersey where BMW’s American headquarters is and even there, BMW’s were unusual to see in the early 80's. When it came to German cars, Mercedes seems to have won out. Their cars looked a little stodgy to me on the outside, but I knew they made something called the M1 because I had the Matchbox of it, so they must be cool cars.
Then I saw an Isetta at a car show and my world changed. The guy who owned it explained how after WWII, these tiny machines were the only kind of car a lot of people could afford. And companies like BMW were saved from the brink by building them. I was fascinated not only by the size, but by the cleverness of it. It was plenty roomy for two people inside. The front door was a brilliant way to maximize space. It was like it was designed by someone who had never seen a car before.
It was also adorable and from then on I was hooked on microcars. I’ve owned a whole bunch of them by this point. They’ll never stop fascinating me. Each one is so unique with its own engineering quirks, and funny solutions to the problem of how do you make a car as goddam cheap as possible.
Funny enough, I’ve never owned an Isetta, though. I’ve owned a Goggomobil, various Subaru 360's, two Fuldamobils, but no Isetta. Their prices took off just as I was old enough to start buying old cars. I did have a BMW 600, its big brother once. That’s pretty close, but it’s not the little egg that kept BMW’s factory running during a very turbulent time. I wrote the full story about the Isetta on Oppo once.
It’s an interesting tale that I’ll probably get into a little later in the week.
The model is a 1:43 by Carrarama that came from the distant Netherlands thanks to Jobjoris. It’s pretty decent for a budget model.
The back bumper is crooked, and there’s some overspray with the chrome strip down the side, but it looks nice up next to my t.v. There are also some nice details like that basket and the tiniest of decals.
And, of course, orange is the best. It has a place of honor in the apartment as a reminder of the car that made me a car guy.