1957 BMW Isetta

The BMW Isetta is the world's most popular microcar. Renzo Rivolta sold his Isetta microcar, plans, tools, and equity to Bayerische Motoren Werke, of Munich, in 1954.

The BMW Company was founded on aero engines and later produced motorcycles before moving into sports cars prior to World War II. After the War, the factory was in ruins and cash was short. Their range of large, bulbous cars failed to ignite the interest of the public. Short on options, management decided to take a gamble on something completely different - the Isetta microcar.

BMW redesigned the drivetrain to use its 247 cubic centimeter, four-cylinder motorcycle engine. The gearbox output was coupled to a shaft through a rubber universal joint, which led to the chaincase. Inside were double drive chains that rested in oil and attached to the solid rear axle. This setup made the power unit much quieter and reduced vibration. After the re-engineering, the setup was completely new with no earlier Iso parts used. The front suspension was also reconfigured to a swing-arm arrangement. Modifications to the body included raising the headlights above the fenders so that they attached directly to the body. In October of 1956, the side windows changed from the fixed 'bubble' type to sliding panes.

In 1956, the engine displacement was increased to 297 cubic centimeters and compression was raised, boosting power to 13 horsepower. There was an increase in torque, but the top speed remained the same, at 85 km/h.

Through 1962, more than 161,000 examples of the Isetta were produced. They provided BMW with a steady source of income, particularly in 1956 and 1957, when the Suez Crisis interrupted oil supplies to Europe. During the eight years that the Isetta remained in production, more than 160,000 examples were built, not counting Isetta production that continued in France, Belgium, Spain, and Brazil.


by Daniel Vaughan | Mar 2020

Related Reading : BMW Isetta History

At a time when cheap, short-distance transportation was preferred by consumers, BMW introduced the Isetta in November of 1953 at Turin. One of the most successful microcars that were produced in the post-WWII years, the egg-shaped Isettas design originated in Italy. The Isetta received the nickname bubble car because of its bubble-like windows and its egg shape. Other nicknames for the Isetta were....
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1957 Vehicle Profiles

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Following World War Two many Europeans needed low-cost transportation. The Isetta, when introduced in Turin, Italy in 1953, looked like something from another planet.....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

BMW licensed the production of the Isetta from the Italian firm ISO. They redesigned the powerplant around a BMW one-cylinder, four-stroke, 247cc motorcycle engine which generated 13 horsepower. Although the major elements of the Italian design remai....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 511136

The Isetta was a microcar built by Renno Rivolta, a refrigerator manufacturer. Sales were slow and after two years sold the rights to BMW. BMW debuted the Isetta at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1955 along with their 505 Pullman Limousine. The contrast ....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 500153

This BMW Isetta 300 sat in Carmel Valley for a number of years as passers-by assumed it was a broken golf car. In the 1990s, a BMW enthusiast and mechanic purchased the car and treated it to a nut-and-bolt restoration. The result was a period-corre....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

A northeast Ohio favorite, Neil Zurchers 'One Tank Trip' car from Fox TV-8 in Cleveland. This car was featured in 1998 and 1999.....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

The Isetta was designed and built by Rennio Rivolta, a refrigerator manufacturer. After two years of slow sales Rivolta sold Isetta to BMW (Bavarian Motor Works). BMW debuted the Isetta at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1955. 25,000 Isetta's were prod....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

In the aftermath of WWII, the necessity for Europeans to economize gave birth to microcar. Miniscule by American standards, the typical micro-car provided room for two people and was powered by a motorcycle engine. Numerous automobile manufacturers b....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 502242

This BMW Isetta Cabriolet is one of less than thirty that is believed to exist in the United States today. It has the correct 300cc 13 horsepower air-cooled one-cylinder engine mate to a 4-speed manual gearbox.....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 503831

This particular BMW Isetta has been driven less than 200 miles since a total mechanical and body restoration. It is painted in correct Coral Red and Sand Dune Beige and has the desirable 'tropical door' with fresh-air vents and sliding side windows.....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 501377

This Isetta 300 was given a restoration in 2012 and is finished in Cortina Grey over Bavarian Blue and has blue and white vinyl upholstery and sliding side windows, which were introduced in October of 1956. The two-tone color scheme, with the contras....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 507984
Engine Num: 499476

This Isetta is finished in red and cream paint over a cream vinyl interior. The current owner acquired the BMW in 2010, from the former owner who purchased it in 2008. The new owner initiated an extensive overhaul both inside and out that included an....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 500812

This Isetta is a US export model fitted with a 298cc, 13 horsepower engine with a 4-speed transmission. It has a rear luggage rack with luggage and a sunroof.....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

250 Coupe

Chassis Num: 427993

The Isetta was a radical departure from the traditional motor vehicle and made its introduction in 1953. It was a tiny, bubble-like vehicle powered by a two-stroke motorcycle engine and offered the economy of a two-wheeled vehicle with the comforts o....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

The Isetta is an Italian-designed microcar built under license in a number of different countries, including Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Known for its unique egg shape and bubble-like windows, it is often referred....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 585679

The Isetta is credited as the car that saved BMW after WWII. On the brink of bankruptcy, BMW found its savior at the 1954 Turin Car Show. Iso Rivolta was an Italian maker of refrigerators and mini cars. At their booth was a three-wheeled 'bubble car'....[continue reading]

1957 BMW Isetta vehicle information

Coupe

Chassis Num: 506947

At some point, this 1957 BMW Isetta 300 received a restoration and is finished in pale-yellow with chrome bumpers, a rear luggage rack with wicker luggage, and a fabric sunroof. The 298cc single-cylinder engine produces 13 horsepower at 5,800 RPM and....[continue reading]

Coupe
 
Coupe
 
Coupe
Chassis #: 511136 
Coupe
Chassis #: 500153 
 
Coupe
 
Coupe
 
Coupe
Chassis #: 502242 
Coupe
Chassis #: 503831 
Coupe
Chassis #: 501377 
Coupe
Chassis #: 507984 
Coupe
Chassis #: 500812 
250 Coupe
Chassis #: 427993 
Coupe
 
Coupe
Chassis #: 585679 
Coupe
Chassis #: 506947 


Concepts by BMW

Similarly Sized Vehicles
from 1957

BMW Monthly Sales Volume

December 2019
35,746
November 2019
31,213
October 2019
25,440
September 2019
27,467
July 2019
23,015
June 2019
31,627
May 2019
27,109
April 2019
23,816
March 2019
32,228
February 2019
23,558
January 2019
18,102
Additional Sales Volume Data


Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1957 Isetta
$1,050-$16,800

Model Year Production

#1#2#3BMW
1962Chevrolet (2,061,677)Ford (1,476,031)Fiat (957,941)
1961Ford (1,338,790)Chevrolet (1,318,014)Volkswagen (807,488)
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)
1959Chevrolet (1,462,140)Ford (1,450,953)Volkswagen (575,407)
1958Chevrolet (1,142,460)Ford (987,945)Volkswagen (451,526)50,256
1957Ford (1,676,449)Chevrolet (1,505,910)Plymouth (726,009)40,371
1956Chevrolet (1,567,117)Ford (1,408,478)Buick (572,024)
1955Chevrolet (1,704,667)Ford (1,451,157)Buick (738,814)
1954Ford (1,165,942)Chevrolet (1,143,561)Plymouth (463,148)
1953Chevrolet (1,346,475)Ford (1,247,542)Plymouth (650,451)
1952Chevrolet (818,142)Ford (671,733)Plymouth (396,000)

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