Britain By Car - A Motoring History

Isetta

Home to Isetta bubble car production.

Location
Locomotive Works, New England Street, Brighton

Date
1957 – 1964

Commentary
In March 1957, work began converting the newly-vacated Locomotive Works alongside Brighton Station for the manufacture of the Isetta bubble car.

A new assembly line, jigs, and plant, were installed in a matter of weeks, and production commenced on 23rd April 1957.  Between 1957 and 1964, about 30,000 three- and four-wheel cars were produced in Brighton. 

Between 1957 and 1961, assembly was based at the Locomotive Works on New England Street and, from 1961 to 1964, at a factory on Victoria Road, in nearby Portslade.  Most of the three-wheelers were sold in the UK; the four-wheel Isettas were generally exported to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The location of the former railway works, adjoining Brighton Station and well above the closest main road, meant that the cars were assembled from parts delivered by train - body panels, engines, and transmission from Germany, and electrical components, brakes, tyres etc from the UK.

Finished cars left the factory by the same route.  At peak levels of production, each night sixteen wagons would take 48 cars by rail from Brighton to London for distribution, again by train, throughout the UK.  In this way, Isetta customers could collect their car either from their local dealer, or their nearest railway station.

Production ceased in 1964, and the site remained derelict until 1969, when the original Locomotive Works were demolished.  The land was then used for a large car park and some small scale commercial enterprises, but the area remained blighted.  After many proposals for redevelopment, work began in 2004 on a major housing development, known today as the New England Quarter, comprising two hotels, social and private housing, offices, and a supermarket, and a large underground car park.  Both the Isetta factory and the former Locomotive Works are remembered today in the names given to some of the places on this site.

Further details 
www.isetta-owners-club-gb.com