Automotive

BASF updates 1953 BMW "bubble car" with modern materials and electronics

BASF updates 1953 BMW "bubble ...
The BASF MySetta project includes foam, paint and interior lining pulled from the company's product line
The BASF MySetta project includes foam, paint and interior lining pulled from the company's product line
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The interior is updated with a soft-touch lining, new seat foam and an A/V system
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The interior is updated with a soft-touch lining, new seat foam and an A/V system
The exterior receives a makeover with Glasurit paint
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The exterior receives a makeover with Glasurit paint
The BASF MySetta project includes foam, paint and interior lining pulled from the company's product line
3/3
The BASF MySetta project includes foam, paint and interior lining pulled from the company's product line
View gallery - 3 images

It must get boring and lonely spending your days in a lab, mixing up slightly different plastics, epoxies and composites. Perhaps that's why BASF is making a push to get out in front of the world and show what these materials can really do. Prior to the Concept 1865 plastic bike, the German company updated a 1958 BMW Isetta "bubble car" with some of its materials and coatings. The car, which makes the Smart ForTwo look rather roomy, also gets a unique home entertainment system.

BASF selected the BMW Isetta because the front-hatched microcar from the 50s and 60s is still a head-turner today. It makes the perfect canvas for making auto materials and coatings seem way more interesting than they really are. Nicknamed the MySetta, the 1958 Isetta 250's chassis, body and interior have been refurbished.

The exterior receives a makeover with Glasurit paint
The exterior receives a makeover with Glasurit paint

BASF doesn't mention any type of mechanical tuning, so we're led to believe that the MySetta is still powered by the original 13-hp 298cc one-cylinder motorcycle engine. Unless BASF's upgrades cut significant weight, that means the car still tops out just north of 50 mph (80 km/h).

No matter how you look at it, the Isetta's interior looks painfully cramped and uncomfortable. BASF didn't solve this problem completely, but it attempted to alleviate it with updated materials. The two seats were gutted and re-cushioned with Elastoflex W polyurethane foam, the same brand of foam used on the Concept 1865's saddle. The company classifies the material as firm yet comfortable. The seats and interior lining were trimmed in a soft-touch material based on BASF's Steron.

BASF ran the body through its Coatings’ Refinish Competence Center in Münster. There, it reached into its Glasurit paint portfolio, refreshing the Isetta's look with a metallic Bluetta and Big White exterior.

The interior is updated with a soft-touch lining, new seat foam and an A/V system
The interior is updated with a soft-touch lining, new seat foam and an A/V system

Ironically, the most interesting part of BASF's Isetta update is the one that has nothing to do with its products. In order to give folks a little extra incentive to enjoy that modernized interior, it added a "home" entertainment system inside the car.

"The parcel shelf is equipped with stereo speakers and a video projector, which allows any picnic excursion to be expanded into an open-air movie night," BASF explains in its press release.

The little microcar gives the Mini Movie Campy a little competition in the custom, drive-up summer theater segment. From its brief description, we gather it projects the film straight out the front hatch onto an external screen.

BASF revealed its completed MySetta to shareholders in April and detailed it to the media last month.

Source: BASF via Car Design News

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19 comments
History Nut
I always wanted an Isetta by BMW! It broke milage barriers in the 1950s! Yes, a SmartForTwo has much better seats and modern engineering but that would be expected. The Isetta was a great design from a utility standpoint as an urban or small town commuter. It got hammered when people tried to use it as an all-around car including long-distance high-speed driving. It was never designed for that like the other engineering genius, the VW Bus. Both were designed for low-speed European town use and then were critcised because they didn't work on 1000 mile 70 mph trips! That is like faulting a P-51 Mustang because it can't go supersonic! By the way, over here in America, a restored Isetta is worth lots of money.
Derek Howe
2 words: Steve Urkel
BigGoofyGuy
I think retro is cool. I like the Isetta.
I believe Steve Erckle had one in the Family Matters television series.
Johan Swart
When you park infront of a wall or somethinng, you'll have to climb out thru the roof because it has no reverse gear.
Sandy Hewlett
I owned one of these little tools back in the day. I wish I still had it. It was the 250cc version. It did around 65mpg and it would do the same mph with three people onboard. It was great fun . Wish I still had it. I now have a zero threewheeler(seeutube Blackjack zero Moto Guzzi engined.
Mel Tisdale
I wonder when they will revise the little two-seat (tandem layout) Messerschmitt? That was reversed by making the two-stroke engine work backwards, which meant that you could go backwards at top speed, if you could keep it between the kerbstones, of course.
@Johan Albertus Swart - Originally, there were stories of people being stranded in car parks because they had parked up against a wall, How true those stories were is open to conjecture. Certainly, later models had a reverse gear, which I assume this model will, too.
Riaanh
With every new motorshow I watch in anticipation, hoping that somebody will revive this class of vehicle, unfortunately all OEM's still seems to be obsessed with creating larger and larger vehicles, with more and more features. They are bringing in hybrids and whatever for conserving fuel, but it still boils down to having to take 2 tons of metal and plastic with you to work everyday and back.
I would love having something compact, even a one seater would be good enough. Something safer and more weather proof than a motorcycle, but not much larger.
I personally prefer the Messerschmitt KR200, but bubble cars are definetely cool!
Pepi
It's not important.. but... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isetta (I'm italian :-) )
TedF
Sorry Johan Albertus Swart, a bit of an urban myth, it did have a reverse gear. (C'mon, it's a BMW!)
History Nut
I would love to have one now so I could go to BMW meets and show off the logo to all the high-priced owners! By the way, it had a reverse gear. The trans was a typical "H" pattern with 3 forward and one reverse gear. Even then if you parked up against a wall all you had to do is back up a couple feet to open the door. Since the Isetta was so short, it would have plenty of room to do that. BMW and Isetta advertising even showed off how one could park nose-into a curb between conventionally parked cars, open the door and step directly onto the sidewalk!