SPECIAL: 1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag with 730 hp Chevrolet V8 engine

1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag, 1600, 29.01.2013
1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag, 1600, 29.01.2013

With supercharged Chevrolet V8 engine

A heavily modified 1959 BMW Isetta will be auctioned by RM Auctions on February 16.

The one-off Isetta is powered by a supercharged Chevrolet V8 engine producing about 730 hp (544 kW) transferred to wheels through a two-speed manual gearbox. It has dual-circuit disc brakes with an AP balance bar, while the suspension is taken from an M3. The front wheels are wrapped around in B.F. Goodrich G-Force tires, while the rear custom 18x13 inch drag racing wheel has a Sumitomo HTRZ II tire.

Although developed to be fully functional, the vehicle is strictly for show and shouldn't be used on roads or track because the "massive amount of torque produced by the Chevrolet 502 motor can be dangerous if driven improperly."

The 1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag is expected to fetch between 75,000 - 100,000 USD.

Full details in the press release below.

Source: RM Auctions

A one-of-a-kind, fully functioning, 730 horsepower creation of Hot Wheels’ famed model.
1959 BMW Isetta “Whatta Drag”

Manufacturers: (Body) Bayerische Motoren Werke
Origin: Munich, Germany
Production: 1
Motor: Supercharged Chevrolet V-8
Displacement: 502 cu. in.
Power: est. 730 hp
Length: 12 ft. 4 in.
Identification No. N/A

The Hot Wheels brand of die-cast toy cars was first introduced by American toy manufacturer Mattel in 1968. Over the ensuing years, Hot Wheels licensed the rights to produce a number of faithful replicas of real cars, and they also created a number of fantasy pieces. One of these models was called Whatta Drag. Designed by Phil Riehlman and first introduced in 1998, Whatta Drag is perhaps the most recognizable of them all. The concept was based on a heavily-modified BMW Isetta bubble car that retains its identity as an Isetta while taking on that of a V-8 powered dragster. So successful was the design that it was included as part of seven different Hot Wheels series that would be produced over the next decade.

So iconic was the fantasy piece that in 2005, microcar collector Bruce Weiner decided to turn it into reality by commissioning a life-sized, fully-functioning version. Given the choice of creating his own amalgamation or replicating one of the seven different versions, Weiner chose Model Number 213, which was introduced in 2000. Number 213 is the most detailed of all the Whatta Drag models, finished in bright orange with a large Hot Wheels decal on top of the spoiler and utilizing chromed five-spoke wheels.

Using the toy model as a blueprint, the basis of the project utilized the body shell from an original 1959 BMW Isetta. A new, sturdy frame was constructed using heavy welded steel tubing. Power is provided by a 502-cubic inch Chevrolet “big block” crate engine, which guzzles 93 octane fuel and is equipped with a BDS supercharger, twin Holley 750 CFM double pumper carburetors, and Zoomies exhaust headers rigged to shoot flames four feet out of the pipes!

Power is transmitted via a two-speed manual transmission, and the dual circuit disc brake system also incorporates an AP balance bar for burnouts and donuts. In keeping with its BMW roots, the suspension is from an M3; the chromed five-spoke front tires use the BMW roundel logo and are shod with B.F. Goodrich G-Force tires. The single rear wheel is a custom 18 inch by13 inch drag racing wheel with a Sumitomo HTRZ II tire.

Mr. Weiner wanted the life-sized Whatta Drag to emulate the toy as much as possible, so many small details found on the model, like the polished belt covers and tubular lattice for the spoiler, are exactly replicated. Even the steering column was designed in such a way to pay homage to its Isetta parentage while also taking safety and ease of entry into account, including the incorporation of a quick-release racing steering wheel hub.

Although Whatta Drag was created to be faithful to the model as well as fully functional, it is important to emphasize that this car is strictly for show and not to be used for road or track; the massive amount of torque produced by the Chevrolet 502 motor can be dangerous if driven improperly. As a showpiece, it is totally unique, one of only four Hot Wheels models to have been built into a real car, and it is a must-have example for any all-inclusive microcar collection.

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Comments (6)

CoyRoy CoyRoy
weird, but impressive
Jan 31st, 2013 8:14am
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docstef75 docstef75
This car was built as tribute to an hot weels model, as you can see from the spoiler. Here you can see the model: http://www.ioffer.com/i/hot-wheels-2000-213-whatta-drag-orange-isetta-5sp-1-64-518179014
Jan 30th, 2013 8:26am
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benzboy benzboy
I could be very wrong... but. I think this car was used in a episode of the TV show Family Matters and Urkel, drove this car "not really" to promote anti street racing amongst the youth. Again I could be wrong.
Jan 29th, 2013 9:44pm
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pzxpjy pzxpjy
Rear axle is driven by chain? That's nearly impossible to transfer such an amount of torque. I guess that's why it cannot be driven.
Jan 29th, 2013 8:02pm
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RobERob RobERob
"strictly for show...shouldn't be used on roads or track....can be dangerous if driven improperly." These are called words of encouragement. Looks fun. I'm up for the challenge!
Jan 29th, 2013 7:18pm
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Afrikar Afrikar
Dragster is to the USA, however they should have used a BMW supercharged motor, to really call this a BMW Isetta dragster. You got the old M Power V8 or the V10.
Jan 29th, 2013 7:17pm
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