The Isetta was originally manufactured by a company called Iso in Milan (Italy) 1953. The Isetta (Little Iso) was at first a 4-wheeler powered by a 236cc 2-cylinder 2 stroke engine. The cars however did not sell well and so Iso sold both the design and manufacturing rights to BMW. The Isetta¬ was then built under license by BMW in Germany. Power now came from a 250cc four-stoke single cylinder engine and a similar 298cc engine. The instant success of the Isetta possibly stopped BMW from closing down as it kept the company in business at a time when many others were forced to close. BMW then sold the manufacturing rights to various companies around the world, and the Isetta was then produced in France (Velam), and from 1957 the UK which became "Isetta of Great Britain Ltd". These Isettas were built at the Southern Locomotive works in New England Street, Brighton. (UK) The high road tax cost of the 4-wheeled Isetta in the UK hindered sales until the first 3-wheeled version arrived in 1958.
The Isetta was one of the true "bubble cars" having a bubble shaped body that was made from steel and bolted to a separate tubular chassis and, like its 4-wheeler counterpart, it used the BMW 298cc 4-stroke engine. Access to and from the car was via a large door ar the front of the Isetta, this also incorporated a unique feature in that the steering column was attached to the door and by using a universal joint the steering column would swing away with the door allowing easier access to and from the vehicle. The interior of the vehicle featured a single bench type seat that was said to seat up to three adults. The Isetta also featured a canvas sun roof, this was fitted to partially act as a means of escape should the vehicle be involved in a head on collision which obstructed the door and prevented it from opening. In total over 200,000 Isetta's were manufactured world wide until they were discontinued in 1964.
The original Iso design, some with BMW engines were also built under license from Iso in Brazil. (Romi Isetta)