16-17 January 2014

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Lot 12

1959 BMW 600

  • Chassis no. 133119

Sold for $63,250

26 bhp, 582 cc air-cooled four-stroke opposed twin-cylinder engine, Zenith carburetor, four-speed manual transmission with synchromesh, front trailing arms with coil springs, rear semi-trailing arms with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 66.9 in.

  • The family-friendly microcar
  • Recently restored to its original condition
  • Equipped with desirable wind wings, sunroof, and wheel covers

“Don’t laugh: it works.” This could be the motto for the Isetta in the 21st century, although Leonard Frank wrote it over 30 years ago in Special Interest Autos. While not only was no one laughing in post-war Germany, but many also forget that the Isetta is known as the car that saved BMW, because it was so very good at what it does.

There is no denying that everything happens slowly in an Isetta, as 0–60 comes in...a while. In fact, it was actually rated for a 60 mph top speed, and its R67 motorcycle-derived engine is suited for high rpm operation, but it is certainly happier at less than 50 mph. What those numbers utterly fail to convey, however, is the fun in getting there.

A positive consequence of the Isetta’s size is that all the components are close to the driver. No linkage can be long when the whole car is less than 10 feet long, and that’s highly apparent in the quick, easy steering, light throttle, and direct shifter. As any sports car maker will confirm, it is not pure power that makes a car fun, it is the power-to-weight ratio. Therefore, while 26 brake horsepower isn’t much, neither is the 1,200 or so pounds of curb weight of a BMW 600. A 66-inch wheelbase and 10-inch wheels with limited travel do make for a choppy ride, but the payoff is excellent road feel, little body lean, and great agility. Of course, the vast window/front door provides unparalleled visibility.

This diminutive 600 was the recipient of a complete 2013 restoration, which included new brightwork and a new interior, as well as a front-to-back mechanical rebuild. Further sorting saw the involvement of a motorcycle mechanic to further tune the engine, and the 600 is now in fully operating condition.

As a transitional model between the Isetta 300 and the more traditional car-like BMW 700, the Isetta 600 fared relatively poorly, selling only 35,000 or so, including those built under license in England well into the 1960s. Now, of course, the few survivors are the answer for anyone who wants to experience the fun of a microcar in a package that’s just a little less micro.

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