Extra Legroom: 1958 BMW Isetta 600 Limo

1958 Isetta 600 Limo

Two of my favorite words in any eBay listing are “original” and “paint.” Given the age of the vehicles we typically profile, it’s understandable that many of these cars have had significant touch-ups or full repaints over time to compensate for battle scars obtained over 30 to 50 years of being on the road. To find an example of a classic that has remained in use while never having been repainted is unusual, and this ’58 Isetta 600 Limo listed here on eBay features not only its original Coral finish but several other features that reveal a lifetime of preservation and care. Bidding is strong at $14,600 with the reserve unmet.

1958 Isetta 600 Interior

While the Isetta defined a market segment for BMW, the company was still in need of a sales success story and used the four-seater 600 as a way to expand the range. It used the Isetta hallmarks, with a swing-out front door and power sourced from a BMW motorcycle engine. But it added a rear door on the passenger side for backseat access, and was also the first BMW to utilize an independent semi-trailing arm design. Despite the innovation packed into a tiny body, the 600 didn’t hit the sales numbers BMW envisioned, which also contributed to its relative scarcity today. 35,000 were built, and even fewer likely made it into Canada, where this example resides, given the lack of a dealer network there in the 1950s.

1958 BMW Isetta 600 Engine

In addition to the still-shiny paint, this Isetta also packs some unique features like the European bumpers, replacement N.O.S. seat fabric, original glass with the exception of the windshield, original spare wheel and tire – the list goes on, and shows this Isetta 600 has been in the care of owners that preserved the car’s originality at every step of the journey. However, there is some light corrosion appearing in the lower sills and what appears to be some additional attention needed to the center of what I think is the rear floor, based on the photos. Still, for a vintage car residing in Canada all of its life, this seems pretty manageable by comparison to other basketcases from colder climates.

1958 BMW Isetta 600 Limo

I have seen these extended micro-cars hit prices in the upper 30s to low 40s, and that’s typically for restored (or over-restored) examples. There’s a lot to be said for investing in an original example that is still largely in the form it left the dealership in, and it’s great to see an owner who has shown some restraint in keeping this car attractive to potential buyers. Although I’m not a huge fan of microcars, this one is appealing to me for its additional space that could swallow a duffle bag or groceries with ease. What about you – could this preserved Isetta occupy a corner of your garage?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. DRV

    Old paint can polish up like new for sure. The chrome looks too good though….
    Fans should be all over this for its originality.

    • DREW V.

      The listing says the bumpers were rechromed…

  2. Vince Habel

    It is crazy the price for this thing. I would not want it if it was given to me.

    • DREW V.

      You wouldn’t take a free car that has already been bid to over $15k??? Doesn’t seem like a very smart ploy to me…

  3. Al Pouse Member

    Dad had one of the single seat version then got one of these for a “family car”. Was a lot of fun and ran forever on a gallon of gas.

  4. Dolphin Member

    Well it’s pretty modest but it helped BMW stay independent and avoid having to merge with Mercedes Benz when things looked darkest in the late 1950s, so that alone makes this tiny survivor worthwhile.

    It looks really good for such a little old car, especially way up in Edmonton, which is closer to the Arctic circle than it is to most places in the US. I just made that up, but I think it’s actually true. I guess you’d call this the limousine of microcars. With a 600cc bike engine it might just be able to make it up small hills.

    I could see owning this purely for fun and visits to the Dairy Queen, with two provisos: 1) there are some bucket-list cars I would need to buy before I dropped $15+K on this, and 2) only if there were no truck routes that I had to take to get to the D-Q. I’m just not comfortable looking up at 18-wheeler tires.

    I hope it’s bought and the new owner resists the urge to make it perfect for a flip at the next microcar auction. Congrats to the seller for doing enough to make it roadworthy and no more. Just fix the minor rust and keep it like it is. These are fun little cars and a part of European post-WW2 history, when this was one of the best cars that a family could own. And you could probably haul it home in a long bed pickup if you had 4 strong buddies to help.

  5. jim s

    i think it will take some work to fix the rust issues but most of the other work is already done. if your into these it seems like a good deal. great find

  6. That Guy

    I love the picture of the car between the two Escalades. It looks like a kid’s toy next to those behemoths.

  7. PaulieB

    Are those pop rivet heads that I see on the underside of the floor?
    Crazy money..for that especially.

  8. DT

    “Floor has been reinforced”……….What?

  9. Mark W Asheville NC

    Nice looking car but 600’s are NOT Isettas.250’s and 300’s are. I don’t understand why anyone would take the time to comment on a car that they wouldn’t have even if it was given to them…

  10. Clay Bryant

    Will still crack 27-28k.

  11. Paul B

    I’m repeatedly amazed at the prices Isettas and other microcars command these days. That said, if you like these little two-cylinder BMWs — and I do, especially the 700 which succeeded this model and looked like a real car with its slick Michelotti lines — this appears one of the best you could find. I’m not a customer today, but certainly an admirer. Good luck to the high bidder!

  12. Charles

    I hate to pick bones with anyone, however only the two seat 13HP single cylinder model is called an Isetta. The four seat two cylinder model is the 600, and is not an Isetta. My parents owned several Isetta’s and a couple of 600’s when I was a kid. We lived in Colorado and those things were great in the snow compared to the large rear wheel drive American cars of the day. When I was a teenager my dad and I owned a couple more Isetta 300’s in Florida that we tinkered with and restored. The name Isetta was also used for Italian built Isetta’s, called an Iso Isetta. There were French built and Isetta’s built in Brazil. Each version was different, and the Iso was built under a licensing agreement between BMW and Iso. The English version was a BMW built with three wheels so that it could be licensed as a scooter rather than a car. Hinkle, also a German company built an Isetta, and it was proposed as an improvement over the BMW version.

  13. Clay Bryant

    Don’t mean to jump in the middle of things but every 600 I’ve seen was an Isetta.I just proved to myself by Googling Isetta 600. Do it yourself before making anymore comments.Maybe Charles just called it a 600 because as a kid it was easier for the folks to call it a 600 then an Isetta 600.Nuf’ said.

  14. Mark W Asheville NC

    I hate to keep this going but 600’s and Isettas are NOT the same car no matter what the internet says.I’ve been involved in microcar clubs and collected microcars for years.This is a common mistake and it really isn’t that big of a deal but when someone such as Charles tries to correct a mistake and someone else wants use the internet as the final word…enough IS enough…

    • Kim

      I own a 600 and although I know that the name Isetta refers to the single seat model, I still call it an Isetta 600 only because most everyone thinks of the front door when the Isetta name is mentioned. If I don’t say Isetta then I have to spend the next 3 minutes explaining the model’s description and similarity. If I say Isetta 600 that’s all I have to say and they know what I have.

  15. Jeff Lavery Staff

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone – I think we can all agree microcars are making a strong showing on the market today and cars like this 600 look like the ones to buy.

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