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Friday, April 19, 2019

Messerschmitt KR200

Messerschmitt KR200 1956

Origin  Germany
Engine  191 cc, one-cylinder Top speed  60 mph (96 km/h)
Messerschmitt, KR200, classic cars

In the 1940s, German aeronautical engineer  Fritz Fend created a manually powered specialized car for the disabled. Powered versions followed, and Fend developed the famous tandem-seated KR200 with bubble canopy and handlebars,  built by aircraft-maker Messerschmitt. Fend was working on a new micro-car when he died in 2000.
Messerschmitt, KR200, classic car

Riding in tandem 

With the driver at the wheel, the passengers sat directly behind. Although narrow, the rear featured seating for an adult and child. This seating pattern gave the car a low center of gravity, and with a wheel at each extreme it handled well for a three-wheeler.

Unconventional controls 

The handlebars were linked to the tie rods, giving very direct steering. To engage reverse, the engine was stopped and restarted going backward, resulting in four reverse gears.  A secondary lever, located on the gear lever, was used to knock it into neutral.
Messerschmitt, KR200, classic cars

Raising the roof

 Hinged on the right-hand-side, the acrylic canopy was secured with a single latch.  Once open, the rear bodywork could be lifted, giving access to the engine, which  was located behind the rear passenger. There was also a spare wheel stowed here.


After World War I a rush of very cheap, very crude, little vehicles known as “cycle cars” appeared, but these were killed off by proper cars in miniature such as the Austin Seven and Citro├źn 5CV. This pattern was repeated after World War II, with the appearance of tiny “micro-cars.” Many were three-wheelers with little motorcycle engines, and they were a common feature of 1950s’ roads. When more substantial compact cars, such as the Fiat 500 and original Mini, were launched, and living standards rose, microcar owners traded up and sales fell away.

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