After World War II, with stringent restrictions imposed by the Allies, the former aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt turned its attention to car production and put the eccentric Kabinenroller model into limited production. Messerschmitt became one of the best known "bubble car" manufacturers and produced the Kabinenroller until the early 1960s.
The idea had originally been conceived by Fritz Fend, an ex-Luftwaffe pilot, to provide inexpensive transport for disabled ex-servicemen. Manufacture started at the Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg with the first model, the KR 75, powered by a 175 cc, single-cylinder, two-stroke Sachs engine with controls similar to those of a motorcycle.
In 1955 the KR 200 appeared, an updated, more-refined version of the KR 175, offering a wider track, an optional additional seat and a 199 cc engine. The vehicle had four forward gears and independent front and rear suspension, not to mention a peculiar reversing procedure which involved turning off the ignition and flicking an electric switch, effectively turning the engine in the opposite direction. The KR 200 produced 10 hp at 5,520 rpm with 0-50 mph in a breathtaking 40 seconds; most important however was the 70-85 mpg.
The Kabinenroller pictured here spent nine years in a museum before being acquired by the present owner. Finished in yellow, it is offered in very good condition.
|Vehicle:||1959 Messerschmitt KR 200 Kabinenroller|
Offered at the Coys 14 March ’96 Auction, this mini-car found a new owner at the mini-price of $5,578. These motorized oddities are not for the faint of heart; driving one on an expressway can provide more thrills than the Space Mountain ride at Disney World.
For the beginning collector who wants a cheap oddball toy to impress the neighborhood children, a Messerschmitt or its upscale cousin, the Isetta, may be just the thing to have.
Think of it this way – your petrol bills will be insignificant, and collector car insurance will probably cost you less per year than you’ll spend for one good dinner out. – ED.