Bubble Car Memories

From the mid 1950s through to the late 1960s, small two-seater three-wheeled cars known as Bubble Cars were very popular in London. One attraction was that with only three wheels, they could be driven on a motorcycle licence. Also that they were easy to park in a congested city, and cheap to run. But the novelty soon wore off amid safety concerns, and lack of models to buy. Here are some that I remember well, and some more modern ones that are trying to make a comeback.

The Italian-designed Isetta bubble car. This was made in many other countries, most famously by BMW in Germany.

A BMW Isetta.

The Messerschmitt KR 200 was based on a fighter-plane canopy, and that had to be lifted to enter the car.

A German-made Heinkel bubble car.

The only British-made bubble car, a Peel Trident.

Modern city driving and the reaction to climate change has made some manufacturers look again at the idea of the bubble car. Using electric power, new versions are beginning to appear.

The Swiss Microlino.

The Renault Twizy. This one has four wheels though, so requires a full licence in the UK.

39 thoughts on “Bubble Car Memories

    1. I have no idea if they were exported to the US, Jill. I very much doubt they would have sold in high numbers over there. American people seemed to prefer huge cars at the time, except for the VW Beetle, which I recall was popular in some states.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, for too many here, the bigger the better and they LOVE their big gas-guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks. Still, MGs and Triumphs were quite popular back in the day. Oh yes, the VW Beetle was definitely popular, especially among high school and college kids!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I can understand the German bubble cars not being too popular with the older generation, when they came in so soon after the war. I remember Jeremy Clarkson driving a Peel minicar on Top Gear some years ago: hilarious! Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember seeing the Isetta models all over Europe when I lived there from 1965-69. The other styles look cool, but safety concerns are a huge consideration, and where would you put your groceries?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. very interesting, only remember them on movies. Now days its mobility scooters & we getting a few driven on motoways & getting squashed.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. (1) Overheard:
    Boy: “Isetta bubble car?”
    Father: “Yes, it is.”
    (2) A lorry crashed into a bubble car. Said the lorry driver, “I hate to burst your bubble, sir, but…”
    (3) Said the Messerschmitt KR 200 driver, “I hope the officials don’t disqualify my car at the soap box derby.”
    (4) The driver of that Messerschmitt really flipped his lid.
    (5) Warning: Do not drink Heineken while driving a Heinkel bubble car!
    (6) The Peel Trident driver began singing.
    ♫ Tiny bubble
    ♫ Makes me warm all over
    ♫ With a feeling that I’m gonna
    ♫ Love driving till the end of time
    (7) “Hey, Scooter! This is Microsoft. Did you know that we can drive your Microlino for you? All you have to do is download the app!”
    (8) A potential Renault Twizy buyer wants to know if he can take off the fourth wheel and use it as a spare.
    (9) Oveheard:
    Twizy: “I can fly!”
    Dodo: “You can flap your wings all you want. But you ain’t gettin’ off the ground!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. They are very interesting. My aunt who first rode a bicycle to work and then progressed to a Vespa (or Lambretta) would have been thrilled to be protected in a bubble. But, there is certainly a safety issue. It’s all a matter of adapting. My ideal car was the Mazda GLC Hatchback. I was very sad when I totaled it and learned that there was no next generation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, the bubble cars were unsuited for the ‘open road’. They were hard to see on busy fast roads, and any serious impact would destroy them completely. I can only presume the modern versions have had to pass stringent safety testing.
      Best wishes, Pete.


    1. Me too. One of our neighbours in Bermondsey had one of those lifting-top Messerschmitts. He didn’t have a car licence, so was happy to have a tiny car instead of his motorbike.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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