1960 BMW 600
Chassis no. 133279
582cc OHV flat-twin engine
26bhp at 5,500rpm
Four-speed all-synchromesh manual transmission
Independent front suspension with coil springs, rear semi-trailing arm coil spring suspension
Four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes
-Four owners from new
-Rarely seen, more practical version of the Isetta
-Four owners from new
-Restored in 2002
The Iso Isetta, which BMW built under license from 1955 to 1962, help forge a new market segment for microcars that were instrumental in getting Europe back on wheels. Designed by a company that made refrigerators, and looking like one itself, the little Isetta proved to be a sales success for the brief period when microcars were in vogue.
With only two seats, the Isetta's market was limited and BMW needed something larger. Management had already committed to making an entirely new modelthe 700and resourced were limited, so the decision was made to create a lengthened Isetta as a placeholder until the new 700 would come out in 1959. Deriving its name from the BMW R67 motorcycle-sourced boxer motor, the 600 looked just like an Isetta up frontand even retained its front suspensionbut featured a new perimeter frame and the first ever usage of semi-trailing arm suspension on a BMW motorcar. A second row of seats and a right side door added space and usability.
The resultant design was clean and well presentedit is understood that Michelotti had his hand in the designwell constructed, and adequately powered to allow for spirited driving. The ride was nice too, with the wheels mounted at the far corners of the body. Alas, the price was highabout 200 Marks above that of a VW Beetleand the buying public was starting to hanker for a more 'normal' looking vehicle. Only 35,000 600s left the factory before the more conventional looking 700 replaced it in late-1959.
The Motorcar Offered
This lovely little 600 is an extremely late production model that was completed is badged as a 1960, likely rolling off the line at the very start of the year as production had officially ended late in 1959. In the ensuing 53 years it has had only four owners from new. The current owner acquired the car 11 years ago from Howard and Imogene Chamberlain of Alpine, Texas. Just prior to acquisition, the Chamberlains had completed a nut and bolt restoration of the car which has since settled into fine, driver condition. Finished in cream over tan vinyl, an extensive record of the service and history of the Bimmer accompanies the car today. It is reported to be in good running order and comes complete with its original engine, crated and rebuilt, in addition to the boxer currently installed. Having been shown at the Greenwich Concours before, as well as the New York Auto Show last year for an exhibition on microcar, it can now continue to be shown or simply driven and enjoyed. Either way, gas and parking will never be a problemnor will the odds of running into another one at a traffic light.