Immensely popular during the 1950s and 1960s, the diminutive 'bubble car' or 'cabin scooter' is currently enjoying a revival of interest - not surprisingly given the congested state of today's urban roads. Nowadays though, the Bubble's attraction has just as much to do with fashion as practicality. One of the more successful designs of the cabin scooter's heyday was the BMW Isetta, a design the German firm manufactured under license from its Italian originator Iso. The name means 'little Iso'.
Faced with competition from the FIAT 500 and 600, both of which were seen as 'proper'; motor cars, albeit small, Renzo Rivolta's Iso was not selling well in its native Italy and it would be left to BMW to fully exploit the design's potential.
Although at first glance a three-wheeler, the Isetta built for the German market used a pair of closely spaced wheels at the rear and was powered by a BMW single-cylinder four-stroke motorcycle engine of 247cc, replacing the original's noisy two-stroke engine. Isettas destined for export markets had a single rear wheel. The coachwork of early examples featured a side-hinged single door at the front, a roll-top sunroof, and fixed side windows, while the steering wheel and dashboard were attached to the door to facilitate entry. The two-seater Isetta's most popular accessory, understandably so given the limited interior space, was a small luggage rack mounted at the rear.
Later (1957-onwards) models incorporated sliding side windows for better ventilation. These improved models displaced 297cc, and the 'big' Isetta 300 was reckoned capable of 65mph and 55mpg. Approximately 162,000 Isettas had been made by the time production ceased in 1964.
This left-hand drive BMW Isetta 300 was built at BMW's Brighton works, as indicated on the chassis plate. Isetta of Great Britain Ltd was one of many firms worldwide licensed to build the Isetta, with production commencing in a converted former locomotive works in the Sussex town. Both right- and left-hand drive models were built.
Eventually BMW took over the manufacturing of the Isetta and transferred production to another site in Brighton. The last UK-built examples left the factory in 1964. This car was purchased by the current owner in 2014 having previously been restored (date unknown). Described by the vendor as in generally good condition, with no known modifications, the car is offered with a current V5C Registration Certificate.