A BMW 600 owned by Sir Stirling Moss is expected to fetch £50,000 to £60,000 when it goes under the hammer in November. The British motor racing legend bought the car at an auction in Beaulieu and set about a restoration project with the help of an Isetta specialist. As befitting a man who always tried to keep something up his sleeve, the 600 didn’t remain standard for long.
In standard form, the 600 was powered by a rear-mounted, flat-twin R 67 motorcycle engine producing 19.5bhp, which wasn’t enough for Moss, who talked BMW into supplying the 32bhp version used in the 700 saloon, coupé and cabriolet. Plenty of poke for a car weighing just 565kg, especially with Moss at the wheel.
The greatest driver never to win the World Championship also taught his son Elliot to drive in the BMW, which featured in the Sir Stirling Moss parade at the 2021 Goodwood Revival. It’s this provenance that contributes to the punchy pre-auction estimate; according to the Hagerty Valuation Tool, a concours BMW 600 should fetch around £37,000.
Launched in 1957, the BMW 600 was an evolution of the Isetta 250 and 300 microcars. The front-hinged door from the three-wheeled Isetta remained, but the 600 gained an extra wheel and an additional door. This made it more appealing to family buyers, bridging the gap between motorcycle microcars at one end of the market and six- and eight-cylinder saloons at the other.
At the time, the 600 was 22 inches shorter than any British-made four-wheeled four-seat car, yet it could genuinely accommodate four adults. The Motor called it “a lightweight German mile-a-minute four-seater of exceptional compactness and operating economy”, but it was too expensive for British buyers. A Morris Minor was £50 cheaper, while a Ford Anglia cost £105 less than the BMW. The 600’s fate was sealed by the arrival of another small British car you may have heard of… the Mini.
The 600 was more successful in other markets, with BMW selling 34,318 models in a little over two years, before the 600 made way for the 700. The success of the latter set BMW on the path to greatness, shaping the company we know today.
It’s thought that just a dozen were sold in the UK, all left-hand drive and all with a back seat accessed by a door on the right-hand side. The Moss 600 was sold new in Sweden before arriving here via an auction in Beaulieu. The current owner acquired the car around a decade ago, by which time it needed a full restoration.
This was completed in the summer of 2021, with the auction house saying that the project cost £30,000 in time and parts. A few photos of the restoration can be found on the moss.600 Instagram page.
The ex-Sir Stirling Moss BMW 600 is one of the star lots at the Silverstone Auctions NEC Classic Motor Show Sale 2022. It’s also one of the smallest.