BMW 600

The BMW Isetta 300 was introduced at an ideal time; not only did it contribute to the “minicar” craze of the late 1950s, but the Iso-derived “rolling egg” also helped sustain BMW’s financial strength, thereby avoiding a possible takeover by Mercedes-Benz. 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 luxury models.

Though quite similar, the 600 was considerably larger than the Isetta 300, with seating for up to four. Its air-cooled 582 cc two-cylinder engine was derived from that of BMW’s own R50 motorcycle, allowing top speeds of over 60 mph and providing much better highway performance than the Isetta 300. While initial sales were encouraged by economy-minded consumers and the fuel shortages in postwar Europe, Volkswagen’s Type 1 “Beetle” eventually outsold the 600, after some 35,000 units were produced.

Despite its simplicity and compact dimensions, the BMW 600 was, and remains today, quite a remarkable car. It even pioneered BMW’s use of the semi-trailing arm rear suspension that eventually appeared on the 2002 sports sedan and continued through the more recent Z3 Roadster, contributing to their stellar handling. To this day, the 600 remains an attractive alternative to the much more common Beetle, with seating for four and plenty of “fahrvergnügen” to boot.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in August of 2010 at the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, Monterey, California.

23 bhp, 582 cc horizontally-opposed, overhead-valve, air-cooled two-cylinder engine, Zenith carburetor, four-speed manual transmission, front leading arms with coil springs, rear semi-trailing arms with coil springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 66.9"

Source: RM Auctions

Gallery: BMW 600