Today best remembered for its breathtaking Grifo supercar, Renzo Rivolta's Isothermos company had begun life pre-war making refrigerators, turning to the manufacture of scooters, under the Iso name, after the war and thence to the highly successful Isetta 'bubble car'. Introduced at the Milan Show in November 1953, the egg-shaped Isetta was like nothing seen before, boasting a hinged front for entry and a canvas sunroof. The steering column and instruments swung out with the door, facilitating easy access to the bench seat. Power was provided by a 236cc two-stroke engine, which drove the closely-spaced twin rear wheels via a four-speed gearbox. In the 1954 Mille Miglia, Isettas claimed the first three places in the economy classification, the winner averaging over 70km/h (43mph). Despite its virtues the Isetta was not well received at home, Italians preferring conventional small cars like the FIAT 500, and sales were disappointing. Production in Italy ceased after some 1,000-or-so had been made, though the design continued to be built under license in several other coutris. BMW saw its potential and licensed the Isetta, selling over 22,000 units in 1956 alone. The German-market version used one of its maker's 247cc motorcycle engines and had two rear wheels, while the BMW-Isetta 300 export model came with a 297cc motor and three wheels only. By the time production ceased in 1962 BMW had sold a staggering 161,728 Isettas, which in no small way contributed to the company's financial stability.
This particular Isetta was purchased at auction by the vendor in 2005 having previously belonged to a Mrs Regina Wallis from Huntingdon. Expired MoTs on file for the period 1995-2000 show that only 300 miles were covered during that time (the current odometer reading is 44,587 miles). Kept in heated storage since purchase and never used by the vendor, 'OYM 338A' benefits from work carried out on the brakes in 2005 at a cost of £500 by Paragon (independent Porsche specialists in East Sussex). Recently re-commissioned and MoT'd, the car is described as running well and is offered with Swansea V5 registration document.