$8,500 Bimmer: 1956 BMW Isetta 300

This 1956 BMW Isetta 300 is on Craigslist with an asking price of $8,500! I passed on buying one in nice, driver-condition about three decades ago for $2,500, that was a huge mistake. This one will need a full restoration, as you can tell, but it looks super solid. Thanks to Olaf for tracking this microcar down for us.

Ha, I love these things! And before it comes up, these weren’t made for 2016 American freeways, so there weren’t humongous SUVs to contend with. There were trucks, of course, but these cars were meant to get a post-WWII German public on their feet again. Or, actually, to get them off of their feet and into a set of wheels again. City-duty was the calling of the Isetta, not the Autobahn or any other modern situation like that.

The seller isn’t letting us in on too much here, just that this car is in need of total restoration. They also have pretty much 94.7% of every microcar ever made (not really) listed as “keywords”, hoping to snag anyone like me who searches for such things. You can tell that the body on this Isetta is in nice shape. There will always be some bending, hammering, and welding to do during a restoration, and that’s usually just on the doghouse where you’ll be living once you take on yet another restoration project. There are no engine photos, outside of something like this photo showing the side of the car with the engine panel removed. But, hopefully the engine is all there. 1956 was the year when Germany changed the law that allowed vehicles with an engine under 250 cc to be operated by drivers with just a motorcycle license and it’s when the Isetta 300 was introduced with a bigger engine, all 298 cc and 13 hp of it!

Here’s where you’ll be stretching out your legs, if you’re 3′-5″ tall. The classic, unique swing-away-steering wheel and front-opening door are hallmarks of the Isetta, just one of many hallmarks. It does look like a complete car, does anyone notice anything missing, like knobs, badges, levers, etc? The seats are just one part of your to-do list on this car, but heck yeah it’ll be worth it when you’re done! We have all seen these cars sell for $30,000-$50,000 in restored condition so I’m sure that one of you could restore this car and come out ahead. Have any of you driven an Isetta? Or, better yet, have any of you restored one?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    See ’66 Cyclone thread.

  2. JW

    Sat in one once at a car show and my 6′ body didn’t care much for the leg room. Still they are cute cars and I would rather have one of these than a smart car, I’m sure I would draw more attention.

    • RayT Member

      I’m 6’2″ and had zero trouble driving one! I must say things got a bit less comfortable when I drove the same owner’s Messerschmitt KR-200….

      For around-town use, these are okay comfort-wise, and a whole lot of fun to drive. A BMW 600 I drove some months later was a little better still, though I certainly wouldn’t do the LA-San Francisco run with one as I did in my Honda 600.

      And yes, JW, you do draw attention in the Bimmeretta! People stare, point and smile a lot. Not a good car for an introvert.

    • Mark S Member

      I used to have a URAL sidecar motorcycle I remember coming to a red light one day and to my right there was a guy cutting his grass when he noticed my rig he stopped in his tracks and stood there staring at my bike like a statue lawn mower running the whole time. After I started to move I looked back and he had come out of his trance and was back to finishing his lawn. He must have stood there a good 30 second where the world could have crashed down around him and he would not have noticed.

  3. Dave Wright

    They always were an odd car, here is a photo of one I took in front of a restaurant in Trier, one of my favorite cities in Germany

    Like 1
  4. justajoe

    I didn’t restore mine, I broke it. My first car, paid $200 for it in 1976. Drove it for, oh 10, 11 weeks before the dogears on the transmission case that supported the clutch lever broke. A replacement would have been $450 from a nice lady in SoCal. Which wasn’t going to happen. After about 6 months a friend figured out a fix. But in the meantime, I’d messed up the carb. (My first car, remember?) I sold it to another friend for $50, who promptly figured out what was wrong with the carb….I had the needle (SU/Solex type carb) in upside down. Oh, well.

  5. Howard A Member

    I’ve said this before, but I had a friend that him and his dad put a snowmobile motor( and drive) in one of these. It was annoying as heck, and after he found it on the high school steps one day, he stopped bringing it to school.

  6. sidmkm

    This Isetta is looking good but it is missing a couple pieces that can prove tricky to find.

    Interestingly enough the rear glass and engine cover can be hard to find but the hardest one will likely be the missing parking brake lever.

    The parking brake lever should be installed on the side of the right front wheel well. I spent several years tracking one of these for my own Isetta.

    On the plus side this Isetta has the windshield wiper motor still installed.

    For some reason most Isettas are almost always missing the parking brake lever and windshield wiper motors.

  7. chad

    Same as the “3000” that usta drive thru our town in the ’60s?

  8. D. King

    Sold!

  9. Bajrang

    Did one of these, and I can say there is a lot to be done on this one.

    Like 1

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