16-17 January 2014

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Lot 2

1957 BMW Isetta 300

  • Chassis no. 501377

Sold for $30,250

13 bhp, 297 cc L-head single-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, coil-spring independent front suspension, trailing-arm leaf-spring rear suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 59.1 in.

  • The world-renowned bubble car
  • Beautiful in Cortina Grey over Bavarian Blue
  • Only 500 miles since restoration

The Isetta was the brainchild of Renzo Rivolta, who manufactured refrigerators in Italy under the name Iso. Rivolta had a yen to make small, economical automobiles, so he seized on a design by engineers Pierluigi Raggi and Ermenegildo Preti, who had patented an ovoid vehicle using a scooter engine. They named it Isetta, literally meaning “little Iso.” It was just 7½-feet long and 4½-wide, it was shaped like an egg, and it had “bubble” windows. A single bench seat, adequate for two (or three if one was a child), was accessed by opening the entire front of the car. In doing so, the steering column would hinge forward on a universal joint, bringing the instrument panel with it.

Initially, the Isetta had but a single rear wheel, but a second was soon added for stability. Putting the two wheels close together obviated the need for a differential. A gear transmission gave four speeds forward and one in reverse, and it was driven by chain to the solid rear axle. Front suspension was by modified Dubonnet “knees,” and the rear suspension was by quarter-elliptic leaf springs.

About 1,000 were built before Rivolta sold the designs and tooling to BMW in 1954 and licensed others in Belgium, France, Spain, and Brazil.

When BMW took over the manufacture of Renzo Rivolta’s Isetta, changes were made to the drivetrain, so that they could use their own engine, and the swing-arm suspension was re-configured. The body, too, received some alterations, as the headlights were removed from the fenders and attached to the sides of the body. This gave a much better field of illumination. The first cars were built in April 1955, and production eventually surpassed 161,000 examples.

This Isetta 300 was restored approximately two years ago. It was finished in Cortina Grey over Bavarian Blue and has blue and white vinyl upholstery and the desirable sliding side windows, which were introduced in October 1956. The two-tone color scheme, with the contrasting color extending down the door, was a 1957 feature. It is in like-new condition, as it has be driven only 500 miles since restoration, and it is ready to be enjoyed by a new owner.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more