Sunday, December 04, 2005

Smart car follows in footsteps of BMW's Isetta

Photo by ALT, Micronorth 2005, Orillia, ON

Thursday, December 1, 2005 Posted at 9:29 AM EST
Globe and Mail Update

Over the past year, tiny two-seat mini cars have been appearing on the streets of Canadian cities.
They've been welcomed as just the things needed to save the planet by some and as something of a novelty by others. But the Mercedes-Benz Smart car isn't the first of this type to be imported to Canada, or even the first from a German luxury car maker. That honour goes to the classic micro-machine of the 1950s: BMW's Isetta bubble car.
The egg-shaped Isetta was born in the aftermath of the Second World War when money, materials and fuel were scarce, one of a number of designs from makers such as Messerschmitt, Heinkel, Dornier, Gogomobile, Trojan and Scootacar.
But by the time the Isetta eventually arrived in North America in the late 1950s, it was a solution to a problem that simply didn't exist here. Although today, with transaction prices averaging $30,000, gas near enough a buck a litre and traffic in near gridlock, we can look back on the 1957 version advertised in Toronto newspapers with a degree of nostalgia.
Isetta Motors of Canada would sell you one of these minuscule motorcars for $1,098 ($366 down, $9 a week) and promised it would get 75 miles per gallon, or better than 4.0 L/100 km. It was just 2,283 mm long (or about 400 mm more than many modern vehicles are wide) and weighed 350 kg. Up front were wide-spaced, 10-inch diameter wheels, while the rears were just 518 mm apart.

Read full article here.

Note: Four wheeled Isettas imported to Canada were manufactured in Brighton, East
Sussex. Read more about Isettas here.

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