The Isetta Bubble Car was a small 3 wheeled car powered by an air cooled engine of around 300cc. It had a top speed of approx. 50mph (if you dared) and 0 to 60 in 30 plus seconds. It was popular in the UK because it was cheap to buy and run and if you ordered it without reverse gear it could be legally be driven on a motorcycle license.  Of course, this meant careful parking as you needed to be able to open the front door to get out...too close and that’s it!


My acquaintance came from a trip I made with a friend Alan. Alan had got a job with the Power Grid company which meant being on site where they built the distribution pylons. In this case it was Derbyshire, specifically a village called TibShelf.  This small place (pop around 3500) was an old mining village and consequently a tad dour in aspect. “I’m going up to find some digs, fancy a trip?" says alan. It was winter and snow was around and Tibshelf was 60 miles away. Being air cooled the Isetta had no heater as such and the only warmth available was radiated from the engine behind and under the seat.


It was a cold, cold trip and when we got to Tibshelf it was closed...except for a Victorian red brick pub. It provided shelter and it turned out digs for Alan.  On the way out a kind soul took pity on us and took us home for tea and cake. The trip back was just as bad as the trip up.


Tibshelf has come up in the world since then, becoming a dormatory town for Derby etc. and even having a motorway service station named after it.



At the back of a large garage in a row of outhouses near the Manor house where I worked was parked (crosswise)  a small angular yellow car. This was” Audrey” an Austin Seven Chummy model.

Once it was recovered and running it was good for a hair raising 40-50 mph. The fuel tank was under the bonnet on the passenger side and the on/off tap just nicely placed for the passenger’s foot to push it off.  When the passenger frequently tried to press the non-existant brake pedal in sheer terror they often got their wish as it slowed to a stop starved of fuel!

In another barn on the same yard there reposed a DIY car, based on the same chassis but clothed in a homemade body not unlike the Bugatti Type 32 Tank which probably pre-dated the car by only a few years.  This was know as “The Mouse” I never saw that one going.










ISSETA BUBBLE CAR AUSTIN CHUMMY