Meet the star of our beloved Tiny Car Corner, this beauuuutiful green on green Isetta. While it looks damn near perfect now, this ’56 Bubble-Window Isetta wasn’t always in the limelight [lime…green…pun…ha-ha]. We purchased the “car” from a gentleman in Iowa who runs a vintage moped restoration business; he had come across the car back in 2014 while looking at a couple mopeds for sale at an older guy’s property in Tennessee. When he got to it, the car was rough. Not rusty, but in pieces and in need of total restoration. The owner had disassembled the Isetta in 2001 and carried the pieces down into his basement, always meaning to chip away at the restoration, but never actually getting around to it. Moped guy trailered it back to Iowa and got going on stripping the Isetta down to bare metal. When restoration began, the car was a largely complete, rust-free, and original starting point that had been off the road since 1973, when it had last been road registered in Ohio. The original glass even still sports a 1961 Ohio Buckeyes sticker!
Over the course of the last four or so years, the car has been gone through in it’s entirety. The body was lifted from the chassis and both were brought down to bare metal and refinished. The body was sprayed Reseda Green, an original Isetta color. All the chrome was sent out and redone, the drivetrain gone-through (rebuilt head, valve job, rebuilt steel crank with steel connecting rod, new oversized piston), and the 4spd gearbox was replaced. As it sits now, this is a truly A+ level Bubble-Window Isetta. The previous owner did a brilliant job restoring it, and we struggle to take issue with anything. Perfect is a word we seldom put out there, but this is surely as close to perfect as we’ve seen.
When the car first arrived here at our shop, none of us had ever been in, let alone driven, an Isetta. What a way to get started, jumping into a freshly-restored Bubble-Window, the most desirable of the Isetta iterations. All smiles, all around.
Day one of Isetta ownership, the mid-day coffee-run car choice was a no brainer. 770lbs of car, well over 400lbs of passenger between the two of us, and just a little single-cylinder engine dragging us along. Hilarious. 13 horsepower. 13. Gotta love it.
Talk about a show-stopper. Two bearded, full-grown men parading around town at 5mph in a bright green egg; there wasn’t a single passerby that didn’t wave, laugh, or snap a quick photo. It’s hard to get mad at somebody for slowing down side-street traffic when their car looks like it should be hauling around the Jetsons rather than a couple of guys with coffees in their hands. I should also note, while great to drive to the coffee shop, the way home is a bit tougher. The Isetta is wildly difficult to drive with a coffee in hand. Left hand drive, shifter on the left, no power steering….not the best for one-handed driving.
If there was ever a car to make MK1 Minis look bloated, this is it. It really is the perfect showroom car; it only takes up a few feet of space, is easy to push around, and provides a great photo-opp when we have get-togethers here at the shop. It’s always the crowd favorite.
Yes we’re a dealer. Yes the car is for sale. Yes you can find it on chicagocarclub.com under the Cars For Sale tab. But shhhhh, don’t tell anybody….this is one that we sure wouldn’t mind holding onto!
Written by: Jake DePierro