HomeEntertainment‘American Pickers’: Watch Mike Wolfe’s Shocked Reaction When He Discovers Iconic BMW Isetta Micro Car

‘American Pickers’: Watch Mike Wolfe’s Shocked Reaction When He Discovers Iconic BMW Isetta Micro Car

by John Jamison
(Photo by National Motor Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

The “American Pickers” archives are full of amazing finds and moments. But over the course of the show, none can compare to the discovery of a rare car or motorcycle in good condition. In 2014, Mike and Frank stumbled upon a charming BMW from the 1950s and could hardly believe their eyes.

In the episode titled “Big Boy Toys,” Mike and Frank find themselves stopping by the California garage of Al and Deb. The couple was excited about a car they were working on and couldn’t wait to get the pickers involved. When they arrived, the pickers discovered that Al was a mechanic. He was also an expert regarding the particular BMW in question.

But this car wasn’t just any old BMW. It was an Isetta. The strange-looking microcar that was lovingly dubbed “The Egg” looked as good as new. And that’s saying a lot, considering the last year of production for the Isetta was 1962.

“Whoa!” Mike says upon getting a look at the car. “I’m hoping the thing runs and sounds as good as it looks.”

The day before the “American Pickers” showed up, Al and Deb were hard at work. They did thousands of dollars worth of work in a single day.

“Yesterday we went and we bled the brakes, put a new battery in it, we put an air cleaner on it, cleaned it, we even put new carpet in there for you,” Deb said.

The work did not go unnoticed. Mike arrived with an $11,000 figure in mind, on the condition that they had the old German egg running. But with all of the extra work they put in, Al and Deb coaxed $13,000 out of Mike. Deb even threw in a free t-shirt and a hula girl for the dashboard.

The “American Pickers” were delighted by the unusual little BMW. But it wasn’t the first one Mike had ever seen. In fact, during the episode, he claimed that he had driven one before. Then he proceeded to take Al and Deb’s out for a test spin.

In doing so, he got in touch with a means of transportation that countless Germans would have been using in and around Munich circa 1955. For that matter, they would have been driving these Isettas everywhere in Germany at that time.

See, in post-war Germany, this microcar that is hardly street legal in the United States these days was the product of necessity. BMW was nearing collapse as a company in the years following World War II. They realized that they had to pivot away from their traditional luxury approach. Why? Because the models they typically produced were too expensive.

Enter the Isetta. BMW representatives spotted a three-wheeled mini car called an Iso Isetta on display by an Italian refrigerator company at a car show booth. Seeing an opportunity, they bought the licensing rights, redesigned the vehicle, and began producing Isettas as an affordable BMW option.