The Isetta was a micro car that was originally developed in Italy by the scooter and refrigerator company of Iso SpA and was first released in 1953. It was powered by the 9.5 hp motorcycle engine found in the Iso Moto 200 and became known as the ‘bubble’ car thanks to its egg like shape.
The design of the Isetta was licensed to a number of companies around the world including in Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, the UK and to BMW of Germany. In 1955, BMW redesigned the Isetta around a one-cylinder, four-stroke, 247 cc motorcycle engine which generated 13 hp. Although the design remained the same ,much of the parts in the BMW version were not inter-changeable with the Iso Isetta. BMW produced over 160,000 vehicles until production ceased in 1962.
The Isetta has been featured numerous times in pop culture since its launch 60 years ago, including being the vehicle character Steve Urkel drove in the TV sitcom Family Matters and an Isetta was found by Barry Weiss wrapped up in a storage unit in the first season of the reality show Storage Wars.
Most recently Petrolicious has recently added a video to their library on Jack Charney, an auto enthusiast from California that owns a 1957 BMW Isetta which he originally bought new, sold it and then was able to acquire it again years later. It’s a wonderful video, with the fantastic cinematography we have come to expect from Petrolicious.
Sources: Wikipedia, Microcar Museum, Petrolicious