Last week a new addition to my German fleet arrived. That Hanomag Kurier could be smelled from miles away as it’s diesel was covering itself in one big black diesel smoke. And ‘dieses Nutzfahrzeug’ brought me one hell of a small Teuton with Italian roots: the BMW Isetta.

It’s story is well known I suppose, I’m sure this BMW passed on LaLD before. This was what meant to save BMW from bankruptcy. After WWII no one was buying the 501’s BMW was used to sell: this ‘Barockengel’ was too big, too luxurious and quite simply too expensive to even cover it’s productioncosts.

So BMW had to build a cash-cow. And as not many Germans had the Pkw-Führerschein Klasse III (the newly introduced driver’s license for normal cars) they focused on the ‘old’ pre-war Klasse IV driver’s license. For ‘Kraftfahrzeuge bis 250 cm³ Hubraum’.

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And for that the Germans once again went to Italy. As BMW had no funding left for R&D they opted for license-build production. And when a BMW delegation was on the (I believe) 1954 ‘Salone dell’Automobile di Torino’ (Turin Auto Show) they walked into Renzo Rivolta’s Iso Isetta.

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And a deal was quickly made. One Isetta was shipped over to BMW and as the great engineering company it has always been BMW adapted a few improvements:

  • BMW motorcycle engine
  • Dynamo with integrated starter
  • 4 instead of 3 wheels (two small rear-wheels)

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These alterations made it highly successful in Germany and it’s been the world’s best selling 1-cylinder car for years (161.728 units produced). Not sure if this is still the case but I doubt many 1-cylinder cars being built anyway. And this success paved BMW’s way to develop one of the most important cars in the world (to me that is): the infamous ‘Neue Klasse’.

‘But, where is it’s doors?’ you ask? It opens like a ‘Kühlschrank’: the front-panel completely opens. Completely with it’s steering wheel:

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It’s gotten a few nicknames over the years. ‘Das Rollende Ei’ (rolling egg), ‘die Knutschkugel’ (cuddle-bullet), even the English loved it and named it the Bubble-car. Which would prove to be the name the English gave to all small cars that came after this in the process. And what’s even better: the English company Tri-Tech even developed an Isetta kit-car!

The model is a Cararama 1/43 and, when considering it’s price, it’s pretty neat. The Hanomag is a Minichamps and way more accurate and better detailed. But that one will cost you dearly.

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It’s a 1/43 as well and no: It wasn’t a big truck. It’s just that the Isetta is so small.

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Das war es wieder für Heute. Wünsch Ihn alle ein tolles Deutschland Dienstag, Tschüss!