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The Isetta was incubated in the post-war economy of Europe. After the World War II, many people did not have the money to afford large automobiles and instead moved about on scooters and motorcycles. Renzo Rivolta, who made Iso S.p.A. refrigerators in Milan, Italy, entered the market at this time with a line of scooters, motorcycles, and three wheeled trucks. After some success with these vehicles, he decided to move into the automobile business.
Designed and developed during 1952-1953, Iso presented
the first Isetta (literally, little Iso) at the 1953 Turin Motor Show.
Looking like the result of a high speed collision between a
refrigerator, a scooter, and an ovulating chicken, the Isetta was only
4.5 ft wide and 7.5 ft long. The car had a single door at the front,
rear wheels that were only 19 inches apart, and gas mileage of over 50
miles per gallon. The two-cylinder twin, two-stroke, 236 cc engine
allowed a top speed of 45 mph and could propel the Isetta to 30 mph in
36 seconds. Iso began production in Italy and in Belgium for domestic sales and limited export.