1951-1960: The Isetta
The holy trinity of s*x*, glamorous, and fast gives way to quirky, efficient, and, um, did I mention quirky? Originally the Isetta wasn’t even a BMW — it was designed by Italy’s Iso. But after buying the rights in the mid-’50s, engineers went to work fitting a motorcycle engine and revising virtually every mechanical part on the car. Sales were just as great as that front door is weird.
Ultimately, the fact that a good-condition Isetta can go for about the same price as a new BMW is reason enough to give it the nod over Elvis’ car of choice.
1961-1970: The Neue Klasse cars
The so-called New Class cars, starting with the 1600, and eventually headlined by the legendary 2002, were relatively small and light, and can rightly be listed among the cars that truly gave rise to the term «sport sedan.» Every bit as important to BMW’s history, this was the family of cars that introduced the brand to consumers stateside.