Daniels replied that the Isetta was indeed his, and that he wanted to sell it packaged with a Goggomobil and a Lloyd. A deal was struck, and all three cars made their way westward to Raab’s garage in California.
Happy BMW owners, indeed!
The Isetta still has most of its original paperwork, from the warranty and import documents to a typewritten maintenance schedule. There’s even a flyer for a dealer-sponsored promotion offering “BIG CASH PRIZES!” Dated April 12, 1960, Fadex’ “Contest for Happy BMW Owners” (or at least those east of the Mississippi) offered $70 in Isetta accessories, $50 worth of BMW 600 accessories or $25 cash for each car an owner helped the dealer sell.
“Just tell your friends about the BMW—its charm, its performance and savings and its economy.” That $70 in accessory money went quite a long way, too, when rubber pads for the clutch and brake pedals were only $1.95, a chrome-finished ashtray cost $3.95 and even a luggage rack was just $22.95.
Thanks to those original documents, Raab was able to trace the Isetta’s provenance to its original owner, George Lyons, and he soon made contact with Lyons’ daughter. Knowing how much the car had meant to her father, Sonya was delighted to share George’s story with Raab, who was equally pleased to learn the history of the hand-painted logo on its flanks.
“I’m always thinking about Lyons Plumbing and Heating when I’m driving the Isetta, and I’m pretty sure most people assume it is something that was painted on more recently or that I’m advertising my business,” Raab says. “When talking to people, I always tell them this logo was put on by the person who owned the car over 50 years ago.”
Along with sharing the story, Sonya also sent Raab some old letterhead, a copy of George’s plumbing license and a photo of George and Charlotte.
“When I first saw a picture of George and Charlotte Lyons…I can’t think of the right word for the feeling it gave me,” Raab says. “It was eerie, but in a really good way, almost like it brought the car full circle to its roots and everything made sense. I kind of wanted to look at the picture and thank him and let him know the car is in good hands. I truly believe that if George is looking down, he is happy I have this car because I truly love all the microcars but have a special place for this one.”
So did George Lyons, whose careful ownership of this lovely Isetta made sure that it would still be on the road more than 60 years after he first took delivery, still bringing smiles to all who see and drive it.
“If there were a fire, this is the one I’d save,” Raab says. “You can’t replace this car.”