The tiny BMW Isetta helped smuggle 9 people to freedom during Cold War in Berlin


Posted by: Oluwaseun Adeniji

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It was an act of heroism for Jacobi and his BMW Isetta as 9 people were smuggled through the hostile border line during the Cold War. Read their story here!

Unarguably one of the quirkiest and smallest cars ever manufactured by the German automaker, BMW Isetta unknown to many people did play a vital role in getting people smuggled from East Berlin to the West part.

We just got a report here on Naijauto that the automaker has released a short film showing the risks Klaus-Gunter Jacobi did take moving his intimate friend across the highly secure border.


The Isetta used by Jakobi to smuggle his friend into West Berlin is one of the smallest BMW cars till date

The film, which is titled “The Small Escape”, is set in 1964, 6 years after Jacobi and his entire family decided to leave East Berlin. Meanwhile, Jacob had friends at the other part of the Berlin Wall, one of which contacted him, requesting for his assistance in escaping.

Jacobi accepted the request and felt his car – BMW Isetta – would be a perfect car to help them escape since soldiers would not suspect any foul play because of the size of the car used for smuggling. Well, he was right after all since the automaker believes the car is a “very tight fit for two people.”


Jakobi was able to successfully smuggle his friend, Manfred Koster, into West Berlin shortly before midnight

Jacobi had to have many components removed from his car in order to prevent Manfred Koster from being seen by the soldiers at the border. He was able to create sufficient room for his friend close to the engine by removing the spare tire, heating system and air filter. An extra space was created by him at the back of the bench seat, hereby swapping out the 3.4 gallon fuel tank for 0.53 gallon canister.

The car was driven after the completion of the modification, across the border where Koster was picked up. On the 23 of May, shortly before midnight, the two of them successfully escaped by getting to the West Berlin.

>>> Filmmaker has fantastic vintage cars that might just be as old as the brave BMW Isetta! Kunle Afolayan's vintage car collection can make every car fan jealous

The Small Escape

Just like wildfire, the news of their heroics rapidly spread and 8 other people were smuggled successfully across the heavily guarded order in similar style. The Jacobi’s car is presently being displayed at the Berlin Wall Museum, where seventy-nine year-old is used as a tour guide.

>>> Check out our news section for other car news updates and inspiring auto story!

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Oluwaseun Adeniji

Oluwaseun Adeniji

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Oluwaseun Adeniji is a passionate writer and a poet with special interest in writing about cars. He is a master degree holder in international conflict and management. He enjoys feeding the public with the latest auto gist and well researched car reviews. He is also a strong football lover. So, if Oluwaseun is not writing, expect him to be reading about sports.


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