During the restoration of the Isetta, a frequent question presented to me was “what motivates you to keep going?” Of course, I wanted to see the project reach a successful conclusion, but setbacks, and there were a few, can be demotivating. There were times I questioned my own sanity, as in, “why am I spending so much time, money and effort to restore a 13-horsepower bubble car from the 1950s that most people have never heard of?” With everyday life (job, family, house) swirling around me, I was occasionally tempted to quit the whole deal.
One of my mantras during this 5+ year stretch was “celebrate your successes”. Reaching certain milestones not only feels great, but the achievement can be shared with others, which then inspires you to keep moving forward.
In August of 1995, I was ready for such a celebration: the Isetta body shell, freshly painted and just back from “The Shop”, was about to be reunited with the mechanically-restored chassis. In a traditional automobile assembly plant, the moment of “marrying” the up-until-then separate body and chassis is called the marriage point. So, in honor of that event’s facsimile, we decided to host a wedding. Before, um, consummating this union, since the shiny and clean chassis was about to be covered up again, a final set of photographs was taken to document its return to as-new glory.
The wedding was scheduled for Sunday, August 20, 1995, and since a wedding must have guests, a small ensemble was invited. (Memory doesn’t recall whether any of the invitees were tipped off that there was work to be done before food and beverages would be served.) The chassis was staged in the driveway just beyond the garage doors, with the body patiently hanging out in the garage on four jack stands.
Five intrepid groomspeople (Chris Beyer, John Maggio, Dennis & Ann Marie Nash, and Don Dahringer) vaulted the body back into the daylight. Spotters were assigned to eyeball the body’s descent so that nothing was injured. It took a few moments to clear all the obstacles, but the (re)union was a success.
A video camera (thanks, John) was rolling to capture the event. You can view a 12-minute excerpt at this YouTube clip here:
Whew! My nervous excitement is palatable to me as I watch myself nervously pace back and forth and around the car. In all seriousness, having a group of friends around me helped alleviate my worries. Once I knew the body shell was resting on the chassis rails, we popped the champagne, ate some BBQ, and of course, shared dessert in the form of a wedding cake:
The end of the push to make “The Isetta Drive in ‘95” was close, really, truly close. The steering, pedals, wiring harness, ignition, and seat all needed to be installed and connected. The motivation was the knowledge that I was perhaps a few short weeks away from driving my Isetta for the first time since buying it as a disassembled heap in 1978.
(Special thanks to my Creative Team pals Cody, Eslam, and Greg for their video-editing assistance. You guys are the DUDES.)
All photographs copyright © 2019 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.
7 thoughts on “The Isetta Saga, Chapter 17: The Body & Chassis “Wedding””
This is when you appreciate the real value of an Isetta, compared to say a Rolls or Pierce-Arrow. /Per
Sent from my iPad
Hi Per, and thanks for the comment! Ha ha, how true. I read (of course, AFTER my restoration) that if you’re going to restore a car, at least choose a model that will be worth SOMETHING when you’re done…..
Best Wedding Video. Ever! May no one ever break asunder the bonds affirmed on that day!
And where the heck did someone find the toy Isetta for the cake?
Hi Bob, ha ha, it is a pretty good wedding video! The tiny model of the tiny car? Can’t say that I can recall, although, people were always giving me anything Isetta-related that they came across. I have a feeling that the model came from Germany, which was always Isetta-crazy.
[…] It had been some wedding! The body and chassis were reunited. Now the party was over. The guests had departed. It was time to get back to work and make the reunion more permanent. The upcoming week was a vacation week for me so that I could fully apply myself. It felt as though I were days away from actually driving the creature. […]
[…] was recently unearthed after being hidden away in a closet for many years. Along with the videos posted earlier, I had forgotten I had this, and it has been fun to rediscover it. No further words are necessary. […]
[…] Isetta’s progress had been marked with a celebration: the first running of the engine, and the body and chassis wedding, to cite two examples. This time, the festivities would be on a much larger scale. The car was as […]