The BMW Isetta

The BMW Isetta
is a favorite of mine
in the field of classic
vintage cars …

.. despite the rarity
of them on American
roads.

.

Originally
an Italian design,
it was produced in
small numbers by
Iso SpA, an Italian
refrigerator company,
before licensing to
manufacturers in Brazil,
France, Spain, Belgium,
Britain…..
and to BMW
in Germany
.

BMW took the basic
design, remodeled it,
and then applied German
engineering ingenuity
to create something much
better —
and more popular.

In a year,
BMW had sold
ten times (10)
the number of cars that
Iso SpA ever sold.

Soon, the car became
available in the U.S.,
and they sold over
12,000 of them here.

The little 3 wheeled car 4
made quite an impression
with buyers, was low
maintenance, and excellent
on gas- getting an average
of about 60 miles per gallon.

Actually, BMW made
three models of the Isetta:

In 1955, the “250”
had a R25/3 250cc motorcycle engine, a four speed gearbox, and a top speed of 53 mph. It was only produced for about 8 months.

In 1956-1962,
the “300” featured a
four wheel option and
a more powerful 298
cc engine.

In 1957-1959, the “600” was a larger four seater, with four wheels standard, and an R67 582cc flat twin engine. It’s top speed was around 80 mph.

Unfortunately,
the “600” found itself
in direct competition
with the VW Beetle,
….. and did not sell well –
— only about 35,000
were ever built.

The “300” Isetta continued
to improve and sell well
into the early 1960’s.

Despite that, the market forgiannacanale
small cars was shrinking,
while the competition was widening,
…. and in 1962, BMW built the last Isetta.

I heard a rumor, however….
…. that BMW was using the
Isetta as the basis for it’s
new cutting edge electric
I-3 .

If so, the Isetta may yet
make a comeback of sorts.

I hope so-
it’s a cool little car.

HOY !!

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The Nash Metropolitan

The Nash Metropolitan
makes for an interesting
piece of automotive history ..

.. originally called
the “NXI”
( short for Nash
Experimental International ):

It was the first time
that a car designed
in America was
mass-produced
in Europe exclusively
for the North American
market.

Built between 1953 to 1961
in Birmingham, England by
what would soon become
the British Motor Corporation
( which absorbed Austin,
Morris, and Fisher/Ludlow ),
the car was also one of the
first that would qualify to
be called a ‘sub-compact’ –
before such a designation
even existed.

Primarily intended as a
‘commuter’ or ‘second’ car,
it was marketed specifically
to women as both cost-
effective and fashionably
trend-setting.

During the period of
it’s manufacture, it carried
several corporate name
plates, starting with Nash,
then Hudson, and eventually,
American Motors –

— for the last four years
of it’s production, it was
sold exclusively at Rambler
dealerships.

Austin-BMC produced
a total of three model
changes or series :

The Series I and II: from
1953 to 1955, the car
underwent few functional
changes , and even though
the engine was changed
from the Austin “A-40”
to the BMC “B”, the engine
displacement and horsepower
stayed pretty much the same
(1200cc) – although the car
was heavier due to a change
in gearboxes.

The Series III:
from 1956 to 1961,
brought a bigger 1498 cc
engine, along with some
cosmetic body changes
that gave the car a lower,
elongated look.

In general, the car is
remembered as a unique
and well designed small
car that in some measure
opened a niche for compacts
in the American market:
just under 95,000 Metropolitans
were sold in North America –
making it one of the best
selling imports of it’s time.

HOY !