by Ken Winston Caine
Like this little car?
This is the 1957 Isetta Velam. It got between 50 and 70 miles per gallon, depending upon whether you drove like a feeble grandpa or like a hotrodder.
It sat two people.
The front was a hatch and opened outward with the steering wheel and instrument cluster attached. Two adults could easily crouch and slide onto the single bench seat, pull shut the front, and nuzzle as they cruised.
The speedometer was round and fit in the center of the steering wheel.
For perspective, the boy in the photo below is 5’3″ tall. Probably at least 3 or 4 inches taller than I was when I first inspected one of these in the parking area on the lawn of the Friends Meeting House in Waynesville, Ohio, in 1957 or 1958 or 1959.
A number of manufacturers, including BMW, operating in different countries, produced versions of the Isetta under license from Iso, its Italian designer and original manufacturer. The Velam version was made in France and was possibly the most stylish. There was a luxury version of the Velam as well. Was pretty rare to see any Isetta on streets and highways in the United States back then, as it was primarily imported, one car at a time, by individuals who had seen or driven them in Europe.
Want one of these cute little cars of your own?
You can have one in the next five minutes. Free. Really: (more…)