By today’s reconning the price of a new Isetta, would cost you less than the price of a good steak and salad meal.
The Isetta is an Italian-designed, microcar built under the German BMW license in a number of different countries, including Argentina, Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, Germany, and the United Kingdom
Because of its egg shape and bubble-like windows, it became known as a bubble car, a name also given to other similar vehicles. In 1955, the BMW Isetta became the world’s first mass-production car to achieve a fuel consumption of 3 L/100 km (94 mpg‑imp; 78 mpg‑US). It was the top-selling single-cylinder car in the world, with 161,728 units sold.
My first experience with this incredible automobile was in 1958 when I was a 7-year-old kid. My dad was taking me fishing in a lake called the Hartbeespoort dam which was about 30 miles from our home in Johannesburg. We got an early start and it was still dark as night when we reached the vicinity of the dam. We were about to take the turn-off when saw lights that appeared to be shining down from the sky, focusing on a spot in the vacant field at the side of the road.
My dad stopped the car to get a better view of this strange phenomenon. As hard as we looked, there was no visible source of light coming from above. It was only after a few minutes that my dad said that he thought he had seen a dark mass in the field near to where the lights were shining.
We climbed through the wire-fence and stumbled along the rocky terrain to about 100 feet from our car. Suddenly, we exclaimed our surprise in unison at what we saw. It was the tiniest car I had ever seen. Somehow it had landed in a ditch with its lights pointing skyward!
My dad looked inside for some kind of light switch then he found it. In the dim light inside there was a man sitting in the front seat. When my dad popped his head inside, it reeked of alcohol and at that point, it was fairly obvious he was heavily intoxicated. Dad asked him how he had managed to be stuck in a ditch in an open field next to the road, he mumbled some incoherent words about the road being very bumpy.
We were about 5 miles from the nearest police station at a town called Britz, so my dad wanted to get him to them as soon as possible. My dad helped him get out of the Bubble-car, as they were commonly referred to in those days or a Gogga-Mobile in my language, Afrikaans, (Bug-mobile in English)
He got the man out of the car and walked him back to our car. Dad and I then walked back to try and fetch the tiny car in the field. The car was surprisingly light and we soon had it back at the roadside behind our car, after discovering the hole in the fence where it left the road.
The sun had come up so, In the light of daybreak, dad saw an unlocked small leather suitcase on the back seat, where the alcohol smell was coming from. He lifted up the lid and found dozens of tot-sized bottles of assorted alcoholic beverages. Half of the bottles were empty. We locked up and dropped him and his car-keys at the police station.
Have you ever seen one of these cars?