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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale August 18th – 20th, 2016 at Russo and Steele’s 16th Annual Monterey, California Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Launched in the mid-1950s, BMW’s license-built Isetta 300 debuted at an ideal time. Not only did it help propel German postwar reconstruction, it became a fashionable cult car and helped sustain BMW’s financial strength, thereby heading off a potential Mercedes-Benz takeover of the venerable Bavarian company. After several years of successful sales on both sides of the Atlantic, BMW sought to bridge the wide gap between the diminutive Isetta and its much larger and more costly luxury models with a new Isetta-based interim model while the more conventional-appearing BMW 700 was being readied for production.
Though quite similar in layout and retaining a front-opening door, the 600 was larger than the Isetta 300 with seating for up to four and equipped with an additional side door for the rear passengers. Its air-cooled 582 cc, two-cylinder engine was derived from that of BMW’s renowned motorcycle line and provided much better performance with a factory-quoted 64-mph top speed. Produced briefly from the fall of 1957 to 1959, the 600’s strong initial sales were fostered by economy-minded consumers, fuel shortages, and Middle Eastern instability.
The delightful 1958 BMW 600 offered here is a very fine example of these remarkable scaled-up and highly collectible “microcars” which were, in essence, the “big brothers” to the BMW 300 Isetta. Production numbers were in the low 30,000-unit range for these vehicles, but clean survivors and restored examples are quite rare today. Those few always command attention wherever they are seen, even at shows and concours events alongside with cars of high pedigree. Driving this vehicle will bring nothing but smiles and joy to everyone who experiences it. The nut-and-bolt, frame-off restoration of this BMW 600 took over three years, with everything coated, painted, plated, and restored. The motor was rebuilt by a local microcar restoration facility with new seals, rings, and valves and the gearbox was gone through as well with worn parts replaced and new seals installed. Post-restoration, this 600 has been entered in two car shows, where it won the People’s Choice award at a hot rod show and First in Class at the Huntington Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Despite its disarming simplicity and compact dimensions, the BMW 600 was in fact, and remains today, quite a sophisticated automobile. It even pioneered BMW’s use of the semi-trailing arm rear suspension design that eventually appeared on the successful Neue Klasse-derived 2002 sports sedan and continued through the more recent Z3 Roadster of the 1990s, contributing to their stellar handling characteristics. To this day, the 600 remains a highly engaging and attractive alternative to the far more common VW “Beetle,” with room for four and plenty of BMW-style driving pleasure to boot!