At $14,500, Is This VW-Powered 1956 BMW Isetta A Killer Deal?


Nice Price or No Dice VW-powered 1956 BMW Isetta

If you’ve ever wanted a car that could pop wheelies while you are sitting atop those wheels, then today’s Nice Price or No Dice Isetta is for you. Let’s see if this wild custom micro is as dangerous to your wallet as it likely is to your person.

If you’re a fan of the seemingly endless supply of redundant Spiderman reboots, then you’re no doubt aware that the supporting character Aunt May keeps getting younger with each iteration. If they keep this practice up, in a couple of years the filmmakers will no doubt cast a toddler in the role.

An old aunt or stereotypical retired grandparent was the likely target for the 2005 Buick LeSaber we considered yesterday. Now, with nearly 20 years under its high-waisted belt and just 100,000 miles on the clock, the big Buick holds a bit of a broader appeal. And, at $6,400, so too did its price. That earned the stately sedan a solid 65 percent Nice Price win.

Now, if you have a grandparent — or any family member for that matter — who shows up in something like this zany VW-powered 1956 BMW Isetta, then you’ve got a pretty cool family. Or maybe one that’s a little teched.

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Speaking of wacky, the history of the Isetta itself is a little wild. The bubble car came to be as one of a slew of diminutive, cost-efficient cars intended to get Europe back on the road following WWII. The first model, with its iconic single front door and close-spaced rear wheels, was designed by the Italian industrial corporation Iso SpA, which was owned by Renzo Rivolta. Yep, that’s the same Rivolta that stood behind the eponymous Iso Rivolta and Grifo sports and GT cars, and in fact, in Italian Isetta literally means “little Iso.” Odd as it was, that little Iso was so successful that the company licensed the design to other companies outside of Italy, including Germany’s BMW.

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The Germans revised the Isetta significantly, changing the headlamp positioning and replacing the two-stroke scooter engine of the original version with a 247cc four-stroke single with 12 horsepower. That was later bumped to 298ccs and 13 horses as German displacement taxes became more relaxed.

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This one quadruple the cylinder count but keeps it in-country as it sports a Volkswagen flat-four and related four-speed manual transmission. Ignore the Facebook Marketplace claim that it’s an automatic. That’s an obvious trick.

The engine appears to sport dual-port heads, but it seems the builder was content to go with just a single carb. More in keeping with the car’s crazy aesthetic, the engine features a stinger exhaust with what looks to be just a glasspack for a muffler and what’s arguably the most precarious oil filter placement of any car on the planet.

Naturally, the drivetrain swap necessitated a widening of the back axle and wheel locations. That required the creation of some half-flares which also serve as mounting points for the skinny tail lamps. A jaunty fabric sunroof and cheery Kermit the Frog paint job give the Isetta a fun look, as does the front-opening door and fold-away steering column.

It’s too bad then, that the seller is cautioning that the car is a death trap. According to the ad, the throttle is “super touchy” and the seller warns that the car will “do wheelies on command.”

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That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you’re into carnival rides. The question, of course, is who is this custom car for other than the builder? You would then need to ask if someone would pay the seller’s $14,500 asking for the privilege of taking over possession of it? Before you go down that rabbit hole, it should be noted that the ad makes no mention of the car’s title nor is it shown with any license plates — or even a place to mount them. That’s just another of the car’s inscrutable aspects.

With all that in mind, what’s your take on this wild bubble car and its $14,500 asking price? Does that seem like a fair price to fall into this Isetta’s trap? Or, is that price even crazier than the car?

You decide!

Facebook Marketplace out of Caanan, Connecticut, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to hiimdannyganz for the hookup!

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