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Isetta - all models

Series: 300

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About Isetta

The Isetta was one of the most successful microcars produced in the post-WWII years—a time when cheap, short distance transportation was most needed. Although the design originated in Italy, it was built in a number of different countries, including Spain, Belgium, France, Brazil, Germany and Britain. Because of its egg shape and bubble-like windows, it became known as a bubble car—a name later given to other similar vehicles. Other countries had other nicknames: In Germany it was das rollende Ei (the rolling egg) or the Sargwagen (literally "coffin on wheels"; the name apparently came from the small (or rather nonexistent) distance between the passengers and oncoming traffic). In France it was the yogurt pot. In Brazil it was the bola de futebol de fenemê (football (soccer) ball of a truck), and in Chile it is still called the "huevito" (little egg).

Iso Isetta (Italy)

The car’s origins were with the Italian firm of Iso SpA. In the early 1950s, the company was building refrigerators, motor scooters and small three-wheeled trucks. Iso's owner, Renzo Rivolta, decided he would like to build a small car for mass consumption. By 1952 the engineers Ermenegildo Preti and Pierluigi Raggi had designed a small car that used the scooter engine and named it Isetta—an Italian diminutive meaning little ISO. It is said that the stylists had arrived at the design of the Isetta by taking two scooters, placing them close together, adding a refrigerator and shaping the result like a teardrop in the wind.

The Isetta caused a sensation when it was introduced to the motoring press in Turin in November 1953, it was unlike anything seen before. Small (only 7.5 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, or something like 228 by 168 centimetres) and egg-shaped, with bubble type windows, the entire front end of the car hinged outwards to allow entry and in the event of a crash, the driver and passenger were expected to exit through the canvas sunroof. The steering wheel and instrument panel swung out with the single door, as this made access to the single bench seat simpler. The seat provided reasonable comfort for two occupants, and perhaps a small child. Behind the seat was a large parcel shelf with a spare wheel located below. A heater was optional, and ventilation was provided by opening the fabric sunroof.

Power came from a 236 cc (14.4 in³) 9.5 hp (7.1 kW) two cylinder two-stroke motorcycle engine. The engine was started by a combination generator-starter known as Dynastart. A manual gearbox provided four forward speeds and reverse. A chain drive connected the gearbox to a solid rear axle with a pair of closely-spaced 10-inch rear wheels. The first prototypes had one wheel at the rear but this made the car prone to roll-overs, so they placed two rear wheels 19 inches apart from each other. This narrow track eliminated the need for a differential. The front axle was a modified version of a Dubonnet independent front suspension. The Isetta took over 30 seconds to reach 30 mph (50 km/h) from rest. Top speed was only about 45 mph (75 km/h). The fuel tank held only 13 litres (3.5 gallons). However, the Isetta would get somewhere between 50 to 70 miles per gallon of gas depending on how it was driven.

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2-seat
I1 2v 0.3L OHV M-4
9.7 kW / 13.0 hp / 13.0 hp        
   

Isetta 300 Standard

2-seater minicar, petrol (gasoline) 1-cylinder 2-valve single cylinder engine, OHV (overhead valve, I-head), 297 cm3 / 18.1 cu in / 18.1 cu in, 9.7 kW / 13.0 hp / 13.0 hp @ 5200 rpm / 5200 rpm / 5200 rpm, manual 4-speed transmission, rear wheel drive, 82 km/h / 51 mph / 51 mph top speed

Infobox

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