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B-but…but…it’s a BMW!


Another one from a weekend fête. This here’s a bubble car, and yes it’s a BMW. A three-wheeler. Many bubble cars were.

See, ten years after the war — as you might imagine — Germany’s heavy industry was still in a spot of financial trouble. Bayerische Motoren Werke was no exception. They considered closing shop, but then decided to buy the rights to build this car from an Italian company. It’s called an Isetta and it saved the day. The motor was a modified version of a BMW motorcycle engine.

It wasn’t an original idea. The German airplane makers Messerschmitt and Heinkel (and others) were doing a roaring trade in bubble cars to fill a demand for affordable personal vehicles. They were dubbed bubble cars because Messerschmitt used airplane-style clear cowls on theirs. They were tiny.

Britain’s Austin Mini is widely thought to have killed them off, on account of it had four whole wheels and could seat more than one adult.

The descendant of the bubble car lives on in parts of Europe, though. In some countries, micro-cars are taxed and insured at the motorcycle rate, making them attractive to casual drivers.

And in a few — notably France — you don’t even need a license to drive one. The French call them VSPs, or Voiture Sans Permis (literally ‘car without permit’) and they have an awful reputation as a loophole for old ladies and people who lose their license to DUI.

I will leave you with this completely unrelated but fun link: bog butter.

June 14, 2016 — 9:04 pm
Comments: 16