Stalled Transplant: 1957 BMW Isetta


Just a few days ago, I came the closest I’ve ever ventured to owning a micro car. OK, it wasn’t very close – I made a low offer on a Honda N600 that I was intrigued by, but not crazy about. Although I don’t regret not owning it, I still can’t shake the feeling that a micro car like this 1950 1957 BMW Isetta here on eBay might be fun – but would the novelty wear off quick? 


This little Isetta was at one time someone’s potential hot rod project. The motor was removed but two replacement units come with the sale. The seller does not know much about the car’s mechanical health or if the frame is even safe enough to mount an engine in, so I suspect he just dragged this out and put it up for sale. It would be interesting to learn what the previous owner expected to do with it.


My issue with the micro cars is that you have some real-world limitations as to how you can use them. They’re cute and practical around town, but anywhere else and it can be a real burden to lug these small engines up to cruising speed. The N600 I considered sure sounded like heaps of fun going flat-out, but at what point do you tire of such driving styles? My guess is quite quickly.


There’s very little information offered about this Isetta, but it’s also offered at no reserve and bidding is low at the moment. There is an enthusiastic following for cars like these, so if the frame issues can be remedied either with a donor chassis or metal repair, there could be an offside chance of a small profit if you were to restore and flip it. But that’s not my area of expertise – what do you think it could be next?


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  1. roselandpete

    I thought the Isettas were first produced in 1953 and the BMW ones started in 1955 so how can this be a 1950?

    • Glen

      According to Wikipedia, you are correct.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Yep, the first ones were actually built by Iso. Jeff just used the date provided by the seller. Based on the vin (511756), it looks like it’s a ’57:

  2. Jesper

    A fine one ca easy cost 20,000 euro in Europe. One like this goes for 5-10,000.
    Crazy for a cabine scooter, with moped engine.

  3. Howard A Member

    I knew someone in high school that had one of these. Him and his dad put a snowmobile motor in it. Was an irritating thing, smoke and all. One day it was found on the top steps of the school, he never brought to school again. :)

  4. RayT Member

    Jeff, you should give these little gems a try before worrying that the fun of driving them would wear out quickly. Have to say I have NEVER driven a car that didn’t seem more-or-less “ordinary” after a time….

    I’ve owned two Honda 600s, and have driven both BMW Isettas (and the larger BMW 600) and Messerschmitt KRs. I wouldn’t want to put the latter two on freeways as I did my Hondas, but for in-town driving, they’re really okay. In fact, I would choose them over an Italian exotic or a ’70s muscle car for that kind of use!

    The only drawback to the KR was heat building up under the canopy.

    Everyone has their preferences, of course. Those are mine. If I had the requisite funds and garage space, I’d be out looking for an Isetta or two-cylinder Honda today!

  5. Curtis J Henshaw

    Bidding is at $4,450 right now. NO WAY !

    • Dolphin Member

      For some reason these microcars get high bids at auctions if they are perfect. It might be the novelty factor, or maybe limited garage space, or…..actually I can’t think of any more alternative reasons. No offence—-they did help save BMW after all.

      Anyway, the median recent auction price paid for these was $30K, with the high sale price being $93,500. No, that’s not a misprint.

      Must have been 2 guys in the room who didn’t like each other…..

  6. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    one passed through my hands and storage….and I can always brag – yep I’ve owned a BMW….hehe

  7. Fred W.

    Steve has reported it stolen and wants it back.

    • brian crowe

      Did IIIIIII doo thaaat?

  8. Darren

    Musta been sold — eBay ad is ended.

    • Doug Towsley

      Yep, Auction cancelled because item no longer available, Somebody brokered a back door deal.

  9. justajoe

    My first car. It lasted 6 weeks before it broke an unobtainium piece.. in 1977. Well, not entirely unobtainable, but the replacement part cost as much as a I paid for the car itself.

    Drove fine in town. 45 mpg, topped out at 45-ish. Handled, OK?

    I’m not nostalgic about it.

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