1957 BMW Isetta Cabrio: Target Practice


This poor little Isetta – it’s been catching bullets instead of sun rays. Well, in reality, it’s likely caught a lot of sunshine as well, just not the kind that people attribute to top-down cruising. Listed here on eBay with an opening  bid of $500 and no reserve, I suspect this car was found baking in the Arizona desert after many years of being someone’s sand ornament used for occasional target practice. This is a shame, as the convertible versions of BMW’s microcar are a bit harder to find and certainly go for good money in restored condition. The remnants of sun-bleached paint, the classic BMW roundel badge and a vintage license plate give me hope there are enough reminders of the car’s original condition that someone might take a chance on restoring it. What do you think?


  1. RayT Member

    Just guessing, but it looks to me as if it would cost only a little more than the price of a fully-restored example to bring this one back to life.

    I’m betting it comes without a title, as well. The flipper knows what “barn find” means and is substituting desert for enclosed structure. At best, there might be a two-digit number’s-worth of parts here, but even that seems a stretch.

    No thank you. I’d love an Isetta, and don’t fear a little wrench-turning, but this one’s not for me. Or, I fear, for anyone.


      There is really more there than is missing. The important bits like the top frame, that piece of aluminum channel that is shown between the sun roof and the convertible top, the steering wheel (not hard to restore), the two top latches (they look broken but are not), the sunroof frame, are the hard bits to find. Motors are around, everything else is readily available. If the bodyside door frame is straight, I would toss the tropical door (keep the wiper motor) and replace it with a standard door. All the rust is in the usual places (other than the holes in the body sides) and is repairable if you can weld. I would guess about $20k to do a good restoration. Car would be a $30k car at a good auction, but the next one you did would be great.

  2. JW454

    For the kind of money these go for when completed, I’d think there will be a buyer for it.

  3. E55

    That’s not a convertible. It’s a sunroof opening. They all (except convertibles) had sunroofs – although I would guess the s/r was more so intended to be an escape hatch in the event the front door was jammed due to a collision….


      Hi E55, That is a sliding window convertible, here is a photo of another 1957 convertible. All Isetta 300 had sunroofs including the convertibles.


      That is a sliding window convertible, here is a photo of another 1957 convertible. All Isetta 300 cars had sunroofs.

      • e55

        Thanks for the clarification. I stand corrected. We had a coupe, but it was several years ago and apparently, I don’t recall the rear roof line as well as I thought I did! :)

  4. Catfish Phil

    “It’s just a flesh wound.”

  5. Charles

    I have restored Isetta’s and the parts are difficult/expensive to find. I think that a running example can be purchased and restored for much less money than this poor car will require. Still, someone will probably buy it.

  6. Al

    Dad had 2 of these one with the front seat the other with the rear seat as well. Both were solid roof cars no sunroofs. Would love having one again!

  7. That Guy

    It’s ugly and it’s missing lots of stuff, but what’s there seems mostly solid. If someone has a complete and running rustbucket Isetta, it might make sense to do a reshell into this car.

    But yeah, trying to assemble the parts to do this one from scratch is probably not worthwhile.

  8. dbigb1 Member

    Tis but a flesh wound’ The black knight !! Love it!!

  9. Doug M. (West Coast) Member

    I think if a guy could find glass for it, then jump in and go restomod!!

  10. Aaron B.

    I’ve seen a lot worse restored back to running condition…like the VW Bus that was found in the lake in Europe after 30 or 40 years…I’d say it’s worth a shot… who knows…maybe it could be a Isetta RatRod!

  11. Bentleyguy

    Quick!! Call Peter Mullin – Will look perfect next to his lake-found Bugatti!

    But seriously, all one is buying here is a v.i.n. plate and an idea, the idea that an Isetta can exist in this space if everything is replaced

  12. gunningbar

    I get a sick feeling just thinking about restoring this. (Parts gotta be hard to find)..maybe a resto-something ……………. emphasis on “thing.”
    A reshell makes sense.

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