Car Stories

1957 BMW Isetta 300


The BMW Isetta 300 was introduced to the US in 1957.  While there were  136,362 Isettas produced by BMW between 1956 and 1962, only 8,500 of them were originally imported into the United States.  Of those, it is estimated that only about 1,000 still exist.


The Isetta is classified as a 'microcar', because of the size of its 298 cc engine.  With 13 horsepower at 5200 rpm, the Isetta is listed as having a top speed of 53 mph. It is suggested that speed can be achieved 'going downhill, with a tailwind, and in a hurricane.'  All kidding aside, we have exceeded the 53 mph (on a long flat road in Madison, GA).

 

With 14 foot pounds of torque from the four-speed transmission and 1 cylinder engine, the Isetta can do the quarter mile in a mind-startling 26.9 seconds.

 

The diminutive car is a mere 90 inches long, 54.3 inches wide and 52.8 inches tall.  The wheelbase is 58 inches with a rear track of 20.4 inches and front track of 47.2 inches.

 

The BMW Isetta 300 is one of a very few cars with no side doors. You enter and leave the Isetta through the front door, which many say resembles a refrigerator door.  The common joke among owners of Isettas is that the 'sunroof' is in fact an 'escape hatch' because if there were any damage to the front door, you would not be able to climb out of the car otherwise.