Monday, March 09, 2009

Starting Monday off...

...with some weirdness, which works for me!

And what was the weirdness? An encounter with a 1959 BMW Isetta "600," the larger brother of the little Isetta "300" I drove last year. This one is what Germans called the "Limousin" model. I doubt anyone else would have called a car three inches short of 10 feet in length a limousine...



Like the 300, it has the single front-opening door, but adds a rear seat with its own door on the right side!



If it looks small from outside (and it does; for a scale reference, note that the wheels are 10 inches in diameter), it is positively tiny inside. For a time today, it held three adult males, and all were more or less equally cramped. To get comfortable behind the wheel, I would have needed to cut my head off. Didn't seem worth it. You could pick Tolouse-Lautrec off his wheeled cart and plop him in the back seat, but even he would whine.

Out in back, the mighty 26-horsepower engine lives. If stripped of the metal covers, it would be familiar to anyone who has seen a BMW motorcycle...



Was it fun? Heck, yes! I felt as if I should have had a red putty nose, orange wig and baggy polka-dot suit on while driving it. No floppy shoes, though; the pedals were too small for my size-12s as it was.

When the 600 was new, BMW claimed it would get 43 miles per gallon, and make 62 mph. Both, presumably, while driving on a flat road with no passengers. I can tell you 50 mph was an adventure, and 60 -- much less 62 -- would have been a thrill ride.

But I was smiling all the way. A good thing, too, as the 600 is not a car for shy people. We got the kind of reaction one might expect from riding on a giant, fuzzy puppy.

Could've been better, of course. Given my druthers, I would have ditched my two male companions -- one was Photographer D. -- and invited more congenial company for a ride. Aside from being better looking, said congenial company is moreover somewhat compact and would have fit quite nicely into the other half of the front seat. With a picnic basket in the back, it could have been a memorable day.

As it was, it was pretty damn nice.

9 comments:

mag said...

This is such a nifty lookin' little car. Is door closing for the driver a tad awkward?

Ramsey said...

looks like a serious wedgie:) that front door looks odd. three people? the perfect car for China and their one-child families.

MrScribbler said...

Mag -- No, closing the door isn't "a tad" awkward...it's really awkward!

Ramsey -- It'd be perfect for China, all right. Also perfect for boosting their economy, because after the child reached the age of five or six, it'd be time to trade for something with a bigger back seat!

Skandia Recluse said...

Friend of mine from high school, a very long time ago, had one. Mustabeen the smaller one; it only had one door in front, and three wheels.

mag said...

I *do* go for understatement.

Maybe sudden acceleration while closing would help!

Anonymous said...

sorry..i cant msn you...! argh!




*hug*



-Whatsername

John0 Juanderlust said...

Looks like the precursor to the Smart car.

Doug said...

It's in beautiful condition. I remember seeing one a very long time ago, and have not seen one since, other than in photos.

roux8 said...

Now, that's cool.