My Car Quest

September 17, 2014

Car Of The Day – Classic Car For Sale – 1955 Iso Isetta

by Mike –

Here is my pick for the classic car for sale today that I would like to own. RM Auctions is auctioning off cars from The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum in Madison, Georgia on February 15 and 16, 2013.

Recently I wrote about a Triumph TR6 at this auction and today the choice is a much more rare car, the Iso Isetta, not to be confused with the BMW Isetta.

Iso Isetta

Iso created this unique car design in the early 1950s, an obvious extension of their motorcycle business. Starting in 1954, the Isetta design was licensed to automobile manufacturers around the world: France (by VELAM), Spain, Great Britain and Brazil (by Romi).

The most successful, however, was the BMW Isetta. The Isetta was a financial success for BMW and the royalties paid to Iso allowed Renzo Rivolta to move on to developing GT cars and the income from the Isetta was important for BMW as well.

1955 Iso Isetta

Iso Isetta

RM Auctions says:

* A rare, late Italian, Iso-built Isetta before BMW acquisition, with original interior

* Partial restoration, with new red paint nicely complementing a preserved original interior, badges, and trim

* The distinctive engine cover, headlamps, and flush-fitting door handle all distinguish it from the later (and more numerous) BMW Isetta

* A rare early example, it is the Isetta as Raggi and Preti intended it

Iso Isetta

The Steering Wheel Is Attached To The Door

SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Iso SpA.
Origin: Milan, Italy
Production: 1,000
Motor: Iso 2-stroke
Displacement: 236 cc
Power: 9.5 hp
Length: 7 ft. 6 in.
Identification No. IMI651461

Iso Isetta

The estimate is $30,000-$40,000 US and this Iso Isetta is for sale here.

~~~

I like this Iso Isetta because they are so rare compared to the BMW Isetta. Iso produced less than 1,500 Isettas and BMW produced close to 200,000 Isettas. That is why it is common in the US to see a BMW Isetta at most major auctions and many car shows. The Iso Isetta is another matter – they are rarely seen in the US.

The Iso Isetta was Isos first car and led to all of the great Iso GTs. The Iso Isetta is not fast but has an important place in automotive history and I like it.

Let us know what you think about this classic Iso Isetta in the Comments.


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Iso Isetta logo

Iso Isetta

Comments

  1. Interesting and rare little car but with only 9.5 hp one would have to be sure not to try and go up a steep hill and ask the weight of the passenger and weigh any items in the car.

  2. I think of the Iso Isetta as a small motorcycle with a cover around it. You stay dry when it rains but you will not go very fast. Parking is great though – park straight into the curb and step out onto the sidewalk!

  3. georgeg20 says:

    The significance of this little car is that it was Renzo Rivolta’s first forray into the automobile market. Please remember that this car was perhaps Italy’s attempt at “people’s car” right after WW II. The door in the front of the car was actually a safety feature because opening car doors in Italy’s narrow streets was a major cause of car accidents and personal injuries. (Mike, you can tell I’ve been reading the book…)

    • George – you are spot on. Also, I think that Renzo Rivolta does not get the credit he deserves for the innovations of the Isetta.

      I am glad to see you are reading educational material.

      • georgeg20 says:

        Mike, I could not agree with you more. Many people out there perceive BMW Isetta as the original Isetta. I admit that up until very recent I was in that group. Everything boils down to marketing and market presence. BMW built more than 100 TIMES as many Isettas as ISO did.

        The book is GREAT, so well written and very informative. Renzo Rivolta deserves a quite a bit of respect for his business acumen and his pursuit of perfection. His name should be listed right there at the top along the people that saved BMW from the clutches of MB.

      • George,

        I assume you are reading the Goodfellow book. Also, when Iso licensed the Isetta design to BMW it led to the salvation of BMW and to many extended years of life for Iso – a great deal for both companies.

      • georgeg20 says:

        Mike, you are absolutely correct – I started reading the Goodfellow book plus I’m also reading the AR Spider book by Chris Rees. Different cars, different styles…

      • The Goodfellow book on Iso is the best and he also wrote a great book on Bizzarrini that I recommend.

      • georgeg20 says:

        Thank you for the suggestion. That will be the addition to my library.

      • georgeg20 says:

        Mike, in my earlier comment I may have not been clear about the role of Isetta in BMW’s history. I said that it kept BMW out of the clutches of MB. Actually it was the Neue Klasse sedans that accomplished that. However, without the Isetta’s success BMW may never had a chance to design the Neue Klasse.

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