• The original bubble car, meet the BMW Isetta
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The original bubble car, meet the BMW Isetta

As cars get increasingly bigger generation upon generation, it’s easy to forget just how much change the automotive industry has seen. As our cities get ever more congested, what is the solution? Smaller cars? One very early expression of one of the original small car was the BMW Isetta.

Back in the late ’50s and early 60’s car manufacturers were facing a demand for cars that were ultra fuel efficient thanks in part due to the increasing price of oil during that time. Tasked with a very specific brief numerous manufacturers globally put smaller, more fuel-efficient cars into production, with the Mini being a classic highlight.

BMW, however, went to an even further extreme and developed the BMW Isetta. Essentially a microcar, the Isetta was a small three-wheeled vehicle which could house two people only. Striking by design, the body was crafted in a bubble like shape which enabled it to become affectionately known as the ‘Bubble Car’. Visuals aside, one of the most striking and quirky elements of the BMW Isetta is how the occupants gain access to the vehicle.

Uniquely, the Isetta features a front door which is hinged on one side and allows for the whole front end of the car to open fully. To aid even further access to the cabin, the steering wheel and steering column itself swung away from the cabin with the door allowing for much less impeded access.

Launched to the motoring press in Turin during November of 1953, it caused a major stir. Only 7.5 ft long by 4.5 ft wide it became the first mass-produced car to achieve miles per gallon figures of up to 94 mpg.

Powered by a single rear wheel the Isetta featured a 236cc, single cylinder motorcycle engine which was capable of producing 9.5 hp. From a performance point of view, the Isetta was everything but fast. In fact from standstill to 31 mph took a full 30 seconds and would only go on to achieve an ultimate top speed of 47 mph. Despite this, it became the best selling single-cylinder car in the world, with a total 161,728 units sold worldwide.

After several years of production, under many different names and guises, production of the Isetta ceased in 1961. A car whose production time was shortlived, but none the less, in that time it left an indelible mark on the automotive history.

Since the BMW Isetta, BMW has evolved it’s product line ever since. Today, at Big Motoring World, we are delighted to offer for sale a fantastic selection of used BMW’s from across the range. From the small but capable 1 Series, right up to the BMW X5, we are bound to have a BMW for you. Please visit our website for our latest selection of used cars.