The Isetta is an Italian-designed microcar built in a number of different countries, including Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Produced in the post-World War II years, a time when cheap short-distance transportation was most needed, it became one of the most successful and influential city cars ever created. Because of its egg shape and bubble-like windows, it became known as a bubble car
Also called BMW Isetta
Predecessor BMW 250
Successor BMW 600
Layout RR layout
Engine 298cc cc single cylinder 4-stroke (53 mph (85 km/h) top speed)
Transmission 4 speed manual
THREE WHEELED ISETTA
With space for two and their luggage, the Isetta was perfect for the UK's urban and rural roads. The first motorway, the M1, did not open until 1959, and more conventional cars such as early models of the Morris Minor could barely top 97 km/h (60 mph).
At one point, the British national health service started providing these vehicles for wheelchair users so they could drive while in their wheelchairs. Although noble in intent and many of these cars were made available free, the project was not deemed successful and was terminated.
In 1957, Isetta of Great Britain began producing Isetta 300 models at their factory in the former Brighton railway works under licence from BMW. The factory had no access by road, with components being delivered by rail, and finished cars being shipped out the same way.
The British cars had right-hand drive with the door hinged from the right hand side of the car and the steering column moved across to the right as well. Right-hand drive meant that the driver AND the engine were on the same side, so a 27 kg (60 lb) counterweight was added to the left side to compensate. Dunlop tyres were used, and Lucas electrics replaced the German Hella and Bosch components, with a different headlamp housing being used. Girling brake components replaced the ATE brake parts.
The Isetta was not popular in the UK until a three-wheeled version was introduced, and although three-wheelers were more prone to rolling-over, there was a financial advantage: if the reverse gear was not installed, they could evade automobile legislation and taxation by being classed as three-wheeled motorcycles, and could be driven with a motorcycle licence. Isetta of Great Britain continued to produce four-wheeled Isettas, but only for export to Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
In 1962, Isetta of Great Britain also stopped production of the little cars but continued to produce Isetta engines until 1964.