- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2010

Karl Lewis was introduced to BMW’s Isetta before he entered his teenage years. His father was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base and he recalled his mother driving him across the base when their Chrysler broke down. A neighbor driving by in an Isetta stopped and came to their rescue. The boy was amazed and intrigued by the little car with a door in the front.

Ever since that notable event in 1970, Mr. Lewis has admired the Isetta. An admitted automobile aficionado, Mr. Lewis took his family in August to view the outstanding antique cars on display at the annual Pebble Beach Concours d’elegance in California.

Many beautiful cars were being sold at various auctions near the event. That is where he saw a red and white 1957 Isetta 300 that was about to go on the auction block.

Regarding the 0.3-liter, one-cylinder air-cooled rear engine, Mr. Lewis said, “It’s half of a motorcycle engine, that’s what it is.”

How could he not bid on the little car?

When the auctioneer’s hammer fell, Mr. Lewis became the proud owner of a 1957 Isetta 300. He arranged to have it trucked to his Great Falls home and then rushed back to Virginia so he would be there when his prize was delivered.

Once the Isetta arrived, Mr. Lewis gave it a thorough examination. He made certain the engine had 1.8 quarts of oil and that the 3.2-gallon gasoline tank was full.

He discovered that when new, the diminutive car sold for about $1,100. He noted his car has windows that slide open and he describes the heater output as something akin to “warm breath.”

Optional equipment on his Isetta includes:

- Sunroof.

- Ash tray.

- Front vent.

- Side mirrors.

- Luggage rack.

“There are no performance options,” Mr. Lewis said with a smile.

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