High-tech 50-year-old BMW Isetta

CNET Car Tech looks at the Al & Ed's Autosound-modified and restored 1957 BMW Isetta.

Editor Wayne Cunningham sits in the BMW Isetta.
Editor Wayne Cunningham sits in the BMW Isetta. CNET Networks/Sarah Tew

Surrounded by a Lamborghini, a Cadillac Escalade, and a Range Rover, the little 1957 BMW Isetta seems out of place in the Al & Ed's Autosound booth at the 2007 Los Angeles Auto Show. But the car is as high tech as they come, and gets better gas mileage than most cars at the show. The restored Isetta isn't exactly original--Al & Ed's Autosound is a major aftermarket retailer and installer in Southern California, and the company fitted the little two-seater with all the latest infotainment gear. A Kenwood touch-screen monitor is mounted to the front of the cabin--the front of the Isetta is also the car's door, giving front access to its two seats. The rest of the audio and navigation components have been mounted under the seats and in the doors, including a 10-inch Rockford Fosgate subwoofer. This electronic gear includes iPod integration, navigation, Sirius satellite radio, and even a backup camera.

A Kenwood touch screen is mounted to the front of the Isetta.
A Kenwood touch screen is mounted to the front of the Isetta. CNET Networks/Sarah Tew

The Isetta won't break any speed records. This is an Isetta 300, which came with a 13 horsepower 300cc one-cylinder engine. Along with its 3-gallon gas tank, it gets 60 mpg and a range of 180 miles. Top speed is 55 mph. Some Isettas only had three wheels, but this one has four, with the two rear wheels placed close together.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.


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