Isetta 300

Isetta 300

BMW's bubble car. Built from 1955 to 1965.

The original standard tyre was a 440-10 crossply until 1958, when a 480-10 was fitted.

The Iso Grifo was one of the most muscular supercars of the 1960s, but Iso company head Renzo Rivolta knew there was a market for an economical runabout, so he developed a microcar, launched in 1953 and called the Isetta. BMW bought the production rights in 1955, and its first Isetta (the 250) featured a 245cc single-cylinder engine, a modified version of BMW’s motorcycle unit.

By 1956 there was a 298cc export edition, with the model now known as the 300. From 1957 Isettas were produced in Brighton; right-hand drive cars were introduced at the same time. In 1958 a semi-automatic transmission became optional, but this was obsolete by 1959. More importantly, until 1958 the Isetta featured two rear wheels, just 48cm apart. However, from this year left-hand drive cars were available as three-wheelers, to attract a lower rate of purchase tax; from 1960 this option was also offered for right-hand drive Isettas. By 1962 the bubble had burst and German Isetta production was halted – but British production didn’t stop until 1964.

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