DRIVEN by our History


If you've dropped by our new showroom on Hunt Club Road, you've likely come across our storied red 1957 BMW Isetta on display near our new business centre. In honour of this special icon in automotive history, we wanted to share a story from.

What is a BMW Isetta?

The BMW Isetta is a microcar that was produced under license by the Bayerische Motorenwerke between 1955 and 1962. The "Motocoupé" is based on a design from the Italian manufacturer Iso Rivolta and is known as a bubble car. Isettas typically had a door in the front and a single cylinder four-stroke engine in the back.

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The Bubble Car as a Cult Car

The BMW marketing department came up with the term "Motocoupé" for the bubble car. In Germany, the Isetta was affectionately known as a "Knutschkugel" (cuddle coach). There was no better car for zipping around in a city or for short distances. Because it was 7.5 feet (2.28 m) long and weighed a mere 770 pounds (350 kg), it was more manoeuvrable than almost any other car. And two adult passengers could sit next to one another just like in a "regular" car. The Isetta was the only microcar where that was possible.

Since the door opens to the front and the steering wheel and steering column swing with it, it's easy to get in and out. Luggage goes on the outside on a luggage rack that mounts onto the back. Buyers knew what they were getting: the Isetta was no mini sedan -- it was a new kind of car. It was the right kind of car for the 1950s.

All Isettas had a canvas roof, similar to today's sunroof. Not because of customer demand, adds BMW Group Classic Expert Klinger-Köhnlein, but because an emergency exit was mandatory since you entered the car through a front door.

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The Isetta was a Top Seller

The Motocoupé became a much-needed best seller. At only 2,550 German marks (about 1,450 US-dollars or 1,300 euros today), the Isetta was a car most people could afford. And Isetta drivers didn't need an expensive car licence, all they needed was a motorcycle licence.

Vintage BMWs: the Legend Lives On

Even today, the BMW Isetta has lost none of its fascination and still stands for a certain lifestyle. "At the BMW Welt in Munich, the Isetta is the most popular exhibit," says Klinger-Köhnlein. Quite a few visitors even take it for a spin to get the full 50s nostalgia experience.

Want to check out the 1957 BMW Isetta for yourself? Visit our new state-of-the-art facility at 660 Hunt Club Road in Ottawa.

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