Isetta: Cutest Cars Ever?

The birth of a legend

1956 BMW Isetta 300 with Z Molding

There are so many cute things in this world: cute kitties, cute toys, cute gadgets, cute babies, of course! Cute is a beautiful word; it makes you smile every time you pronounce it. I wish that even politicians were cute as well, but in most of the case they aren’t. However, cars are cure and I will hereby present you one of those cute cars.  Actually, to be even more specific, it is about the cutest car ever made! The Isetta!

The Italian company that produced this car was an expert in… refrigerators, among other things. The company’s name was Iso Rivolta and it first gave Isetta to the world. Isetta means “little Iso” and Isetta was indeed a very small car that had its share of fame back in the 1950’s. Iso Isetta was produced for only a few years by the mother-company and (only!) 1000 units were built in total. Other countries and brands followed the trend, though. Isettas were produced in Spain (again by Iso Rivolta), in France (by VELAM), in Brazil, where around 3.000 Romi-Isettas were manufactured; and, finally, Isettas got to be produced in Germany as well by BMW.

BMW Isetta

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1957 Bmw Isetta 300

It was BMW that made Isetta cars a legend; the cutest legend there is, to be even more precise! The story goes like this: by the end of the fifties BMW was on the brink of bankruptcy and the company had to find a solution. It was then when the brand decided to acquire the copy rights of Isetta and went on building its own version of Isetta. BMW kept the same design with its Italian counterpart, but re-engineered most of the car. BMW Isetta became so successful that literary saved the brand from collapse. Overall, 161,728 units were manufactured. Amazing story, don’t you think!?

Isetta cars had an egg-like shape and their windows looked like bubbles. This is why Isetta cars were named “bubble”. Upon its introduction, the car immediately gained popularity. BMW produced Isettas for seven consecutive years, but it stopped its production in 1962. Why? Well, I guess not everyone was willing, in a rapidly changing world, to keep on driving with maximum 53 miles per hour! Today, you can still gaze at one of these little old school cars if you pay a visit to BMW’s museum in Munich and even more than that! Among the brand’s popular old and new cars, one can also see a BMW Isetta, not to mention drive it too! Yes, you can drive an Isetta inside the museum!

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Isetta from 1955, BMW Museum, Munich.

After the original BMW Isetta, other models followed. The BMW Isetta 250, the BMW Isetta 300, the BMW 600 and the BMW Isetta Great Britain all carried on with the bubble’s legend. By today’s standards, the car sounds like a…joke, but back then I assure you that it wasn’t. Not to mention that there is one person alive today that would have disagreed with you anyway. Why? Simply because he is still driving his BMW Isetta and he’s very proud about it!

A proud owner of BMW Isetta

Jack Charney lives in South California. He is one of the most beloved inhabitants of the area: every time someone sees him driving his car he can’t fail to say hi or smile, since it surely is unusual to see such a car on California’s highways. Jack bought his BMW Isetta in 1957 only to sell it sometime after. The car’s engine had a problem and Jack couldn’t repair it; no one was repairing Isettas in California at that time!

Jack regretted selling his car to a friend when he heard that she sold it, as she got frustrated once when the car stopped working in the middle of the road. Long story short, when Jack decided that he couldn’t have lived without an Isetta, he tried his luck on finding a used car. Guess what? He ended up buying his old car, only this time it was painted pink!

Since then, Jack realized that as much as he lives, Isetta will be parked right outside his house, where anyone’s dream car deserves to be! Congratulations, Jack! You’ve got the cutest car on earth! Enjoy it!

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Racing in Patagonia: 1000 Millas Sport, 2013

There are plenty of classic car events organized annually around the U.S. and Europe, but there is a classic car event that stands out from the ordinary and it is hosted in South America. Have you ever imagined racing with a classic car across Patagonia? It sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Well, for the last 25 years the 1000 Millas Sport Argentina has been drawing the world’s attention to what it stands as South America’s single most prestigious classic car rally. This year the event took place between the 14th and the 16th of November and there was a good reason for celebration, as this year marked the 25th anniversary of this event.

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For its 25th anniversary 1000 Millas Sport Argentina welcomed more than 130 classic cars that raced across one of the world’s most inspiring landscapes.  The Italian race event Milla Miglia is actually the inspiration for Argentina’s take on celebrating the everlasting beauty of classic cars. The event is hosted by the Club de Automoviles Sport of Argentina which is included in the schedule of the World Federation of Historic Vehicle Clubs. In other words, 1000 Millas Sport Argentina is an internationally recognized event that applies the same quality standards as most of the festivals held in the U.S., the UK and elsewhere in the world.

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The race will also host some international stars such as the five times winner of Dakar Rally Cyril Despres or Juan Tonconogy, who won the Milla Miglia race this year. Overall, participants from fourteen countries will compete while driving classic cars that were produced between 1918 and 1983. These cars will be split in seven categories in relation to their characteristics and age.

BMW couldn’t have missed this high-status international event. The German automotive brand participated with three of its vast number of classic cars. Each one of these three BMW cars has left its own mark in the brand’s long history of car manufacturing. The three cars are: the BMW 328 Kamm, the BMW 2000 CS and the BMW 3.0 CS. Probably some of you are dreaming of buying these cars one day. However, how about settling with some used BMW cars from AA Cars that will come in much cheaper for any pocket!? I guess that this is up to every pocket!

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Milla Miglia-wise, it is certainly worth mentioning a few words about the route. Drivers participating in this rally have the unique chance to race for 1.600km across the lakes, valleys and tall mountains of the Patagonia area. Driving parallel to the Andes, South America’s longest continental mountain range, must be a precious experience. The race also crosses Chile, in what must be a lifetime experience, given the uniqueness and the splendor of the morphology of the landscape in Patagonia.

As far as it concerns me, one thing is for sure. If I had had plenty of money to spend, I would have invested some of them into buying a classic car. The era of my preference would have been the period between the 1940’s and the 1960’s. In that way, I would have felt like one of those important guys in Hollywood movies that spend their time driving around their luxurious cars in the streets of Chicago, New York and the like. You can never get bored of these cars…

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Some of the cars that represented this time period at the rally were the Jaguar XK 120, Chevrolet Corvette, the Austin Healey 100/6, the Porsche 356, the BMW 328 Kamm of course, the Merceds benz 190 SL, the Maserati 3500 GT and the Alfa Romeo Giulietta SV, among many others…

To summarize: superb cars, magnificent route and an international interest turns 1000 Millas Sport Argentina into a very appealing event. Till next year!

Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance 2013

Pebble Beach Concours, Logo

The love for the old is something totally comprehensible. We will always like new things, buying the latest gadget fills us with happiness and pride. At the same time we will always feel nostalgic for all things old; and if not all then at least for a number of them. Old cars is the ideal example to explain our dedication to objects that were once representing the best of our efforts but nowadays are nothing more than a good memory. It is true; we can’t see many people driving around London or New York with their first cars which they bought when they entered college! In most of the times actually their first car could have been turned into piles of metal that were later recycled.

Still, some things never grow old especially when they were made with great care and represented once innovation and entrepreneurship. Vintage and antique cars are exhibited in a big number of auto shows dedicated to their everlasting charms. People are willing to spend large sums of money in order to acquire a car that has been out of production since decades, a car that seems to belong to a different era.

The Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance is probably the most prestigious motor show of antique cars. It is a charity event that manages to raise big sums of money from buyers eager to spend even a small fortune for a car that once dominated the streets but it is today almost a museum exhibit! Why is that? I would say it is probably nostalgia for the times that passed (and the cars that were once made).

Alfa Romeo 8C

Mercedes Benz 300SL

BMW 507, 1957

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Lamborghini Countach LP400, 1976

The Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance was founded in 1950 and it never stopped presenting to the world the best cars destined to charm us till… eternity (or almost!). Various new models of cars were also presented on this charitable event combining in that way the classic with the modern as I can easily assume that the guests of this automotive show must be pretty demanding. Talking about new cars, it wouldn’t have been a bad idea to check on BMW’s latest models which certainly bring the best of innovation and tecnology for your pleasure and only…

 

And the winner is….

Winner of the Show: 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve

This year’s winner was the 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve, a car that certainly looks to me like the cars Hollywood stars are driving in one of those Scorsese films which are dealing with New York in the 1930’s-1950’s and so on… It looks an antique, it is an antique and finally, it used to be a…taxi in Puerto Rico! Yes, it’s true but times are changing and now its lucky owner probably has different plans for this unique and classic car.

In total, 248 cars were presented from 12 countries. Some worth mentioning were the BMW 507, the 1957 Aston Martin DBR2, the 1965 Porsche 911, the 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 SS, the 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, the 1977 Aston Martin V8 Vantage or the 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C2300 Touring Corto Spider among many more…

1965 Porsche 911 Coupe

1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS

Ferrari 250 GT LWB, 1958

1979 BMW Gruppe 5 Turbo

Various special events entertained the guest during the three days of this auto show and I couldn’t but have mentioned here the Jaguar cocktail party along with Playboy Magazine. Jay Leno was there too. Given the opportunity, Jaguar presented to the world its brand new Jaguar Concept 7 Project with the American television host driving himself the car. Jaguar, Playboy girls and a number of VIP’s surely made a hell of a party! And if you are wondering, yes, the Playmate of the Year Raquel Pomplun was there too…

BMW 507, Quite possibly the most beautiful BMW ever made.

To sum up, we have all collected things from time to time. I don’t know how it would feel to collect antique cars though; a rather expensive hobby for me, however, I totally understand what makes someone to wish desperately to buy one of these old little miracles that still survive today. We can feel nostalgic about periods of time that we lived; it happens all the time with our childhood years basically. I would only add though that occasionally we can become even more nostalgic for time periods that we haven’t lived. Trying to imagine how it could have been back in those days, we can create worlds that never existed but still bring comfort to our minds. Maybe this is the driving force after all for all of us drawn by the classic things that belong to a different, even remote, era…