The Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum

15-16 February 2013

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Lot 249

1956 BMW Isetta 'Bubble Window' Cabrio

  • ID No. 495137

Sold for $89,700


The most desirable variant, in cabriolet form with “tropical vents.”



SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Bayerische Motoren Werke

Origin: Munich, Germany

Production: est. 50

Motor: BMW 4-stroke

Displacement: 297 cc

Power: 13 hp

Length: 7 ft. 6 in.

Identification No. 495137



Seeking greener pastures, Renzo Rivolta sold his Isetta minicar and his plans, tools, and equity to Bayerische Motoren Werke, of Munich, in 1954. BMW, founded on aero engines, matured with motorcycles and the production of some fine sports cars before World War II. Left in a precarious condition after the war, the factory was in ruins and cash was short. A range of large, bulbous cars, disparagingly called “Baroque Angels,” failed to ignite the interest of the public. Management decided to take a gamble on something completely different: the Isetta.



The Isetta furnished BMW with a readily-saleable economical car, particularly popular in 1956 and 1957 when the Suez Crisis interrupted oil supplies to Europe. Over the eight years that it remained in production, more than 160,000 were built, not counting Isetta production that continued in France, Belgium, Spain, and Brazil. It can be argued that the Isetta was a vital ingredient in BMW’s post-war recovery, enabling the embattled firm to weather the death of popular, conventional passenger cars. In hindsight, it seems almost counterintuitive, but history is often convoluted.



All BMW Isettas had fabric sunroofs. However, a few, like the example offered here, were built as full cabriolets, with the rear portion of the roof collapsible in the manner of a conventional convertible. Only about 50 were produced, most of them exported to either the United States or South America.



This cabriolet has the rare “tropical” vents in the door. Superbly restored, it has light green paint, bright green plaid upholstery, and an accessory luggage rack with an Isetta-script wicker picnic hamper on the rear. The two-section top is canvas, the forward portion rolling back in the manner of the usual sunroof and the rear part folding down onto the rear deck. The result is a truly open-air Isetta in Targa fashion. Detailing is of the finest order, with hardly a blemish to be found. Among the rarest of all Isettas, this model is certainly the most sought-after and desirable. As offered here, it presents an opportunity not soon to recur.

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

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+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

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+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

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+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

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+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

drose@rmsothebys.com

+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

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+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

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+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

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+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

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+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

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+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

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+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

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+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

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+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

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+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

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+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

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+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

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+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