Isetta, BMW’s iconic bubble car penned in 1952 by Ermenegildo Preti and Pierluigi Raggi for Renzo Rivolta, has been reborn as an electric car. At the time, Rivolta’s company, Iso, was making refrigerators, motor scooters and small three wheel trucks. He wanted to manufacture a small car that could be mass produced. The Isetta was the result. The name in Italian is a diminutive of Iso.
German auto supplier BASF decided its easy-on paint colors, interior material products, and general super-awesomeness weren’t getting enough play in the media. As most suppliers do when faced with a similar obstacle, BASF decided to build a project car- and what a car! Meet the BASF MySetta, based on a 1958 BMW Isetta bubble-car and packed with so much win you’d think the car’s builders broke physics.
Starting from that basic 1958 Isetta, the BASF team restored the chassis and body before covering the bodywork in a few layer’s of BASF’s high-tech “Glasurit 90” waterborne paint line. The paint is more environmentally friendly than conventional automotive paints, and the colors- “Big White” and “metallic Bluetta” were created specifically for the MySetta project. Inside, the MySetta uses a number of BASF automotive materials to create an environment that’s a lot more comfortable (if not more roomy) than the bench seat and transistor (?) radio found in the 1958 Isetta.
BASF didn’t mention any specific engine mods, but the restored Isetta is good for between 50 and 70 MPG in real-world driving, depending on what article you believe- making it about as fuel-efficient as a new Smart car, but slightly more cool, and without that God-awful Smart semi-automatic transmission (objectively the worst thing about any car, ever).
You can check out a few pictures of the BASF MySetta below, and let us know what you think of it in the comment at the bottom of this page. Enjoy!
During the 1960s, American automakers were guilty of building some of the largest automobiles to ever be sold as mass market transportation. The whole “bigger-is-better” attitude finally seems to be fading from the American psyche though, though there have always been those who preferred small cars to land yachts, and a large collection of American and European micro-cars is going up for auction later this month.
The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum collection is being auctioned off on February 15th, and the whole shabang is expected to bring around $11 million when the last gavel falls. Weiner reportedly spent over 15 years assembling the collection of around 200 tiny vehicles, ranging from BMW Isettas and Messerschmitt three-wheelers to Trabant sedans and Vespa vans. There’s even a 730 horsepower Isetta drag car called the “Whatta Drag” that could fetch up to $100,000 alone.
For our money though, the 1958 Trabant P50 with a matching tiny trailer camper, estimated to sell for between $25,000 and $35,000, looks like an absolute blast as a weekend getaway ride. Then again, so does the 1970 Honda N600 or the 1949 King Midget Series 1, which looks a lot like a scaled-down race car.
But perhaps the coolest looking microcar up for grabs is the 1958 Goggomobil Dart, an Australian micro-car with a 15-horsepower, 2-stroke engine and a sleek design that reminds us a bit of Batman. Check out the list for yourself though, and let us know which of these past classics you’d like to add to your own collection of tiny automobiles.
Remember Steve Urkel? How could you forget Mr. “Did I do that?” from the show Family Matters. He was the ultimate nerd, wearing suspenders, thick glasses, and full of useless knowledge. He was also the proud owner of a BMW Isetta, a popular mircocar that had just one door, on the front of the vehicle. It was an awkward car for an awkward individual, but I never did forget about the Isetta (or Urkel for that matter).
The Isetta has been out of production for decades (though there is a cult following of kit cars). These days though, the Isetta might make a big comeback in a small way, what with the focus on fuel efficiency. A Dutch designer has drawn an Isetta for the 21st century… and it looks a lot better than the original.