My First Isetta
A really early smart car, still hanging around, soon to return?
- May 2009, I was in Ann Arbor visiting my parents. It was still the depths of the recession and very rough times in the auto industry, but it was a sunny, pleasant Saturday, and a lot of car enthusiasts were out in full force. The most notable of them all was stopping by Stadium Hardware.
- The stories on the web about this car are fascinating, and not all in agreement. In part, because the story of this first "smart car" after World War II grew to be different for the different regions where they were built.
The driver of this Isetta was happy to have his picture taken, but I didn't catch his name. He's a regular in the Ann Arbor area. He claimed that another reason for the Isetta to be made by BMW had to do with Messerschmitt and its post-WW II industrial capacity that needed to be turned to peaceful purpose, After World War II, the company was not allowed to produce aircraft..
- He was especially happy with the 40 to 50 miles per gallon this little car delivered while delivering him around town.
- My Dad is vintage 1927, this car, 1957. Both had close ties to WW II.
Word of the return of the Isetta came out in 2008, but I haven't heard or seen much of that news, since. Could be electric, could be something else.
- The Isetta was not universally beloved -witness a recent "worst ten" list from a downriver newspaper (Southgate, south of Detroit) counted the Isetta as the third worst car, ever. Worse than the Yugo.
The article quotes Edmunds.com as writing that "The whole car was a crumple zone."
- Meanwhile, the Isetta may be on the back burner by BMW due to the great success of the BMW Mini.
- So, not sure if we'll see any more Isettas beyond the ones out there. Glad I saw my first with my Dad.
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