Although best known as a BMW product, the Isetta was not designed in Germany. It was designed and originally built by Iso Autoveicoli of Italy, with the Italian diminutive “Isetta” meaning “Little Iso”. Iso licensed the design to a number of manufacturers including BMW, which introduced its own version in 1955, using their own 250 cc single cylinder four-stroke motorcycle engine producing 12 horsepower. For 1956, the engine was upgraded to 298 cc, producing 13 horsepower. Maximum speed remained around 85 km/hour (53 miles per hour), but the car was able to climb steeper hills.
BMW produced a total of 161,360 Isettas between 1956 and 1962. Today, they are considered collectors’ items and sell for from US$ 20,000 to 50,000 depending on condition.
Given how the door looked and worked, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that the Italian company that designed the Isetta made refrigerators before they got into the automobile business.