1955 Messerschmitt

A whole generation of microcars followed World War II in Europe to restore mobility to a destitute and ruined continent. Nowhere was the need more acute than in Germany and the microcar flourished there with an array of manufacturers following a similar theme: three wheels (later increased to four with a narrow rear track), motorcycle engines and seating for two (or three in a pinch.) Among the most unusual, and therefore appreciated by today's collectors, is the Messerschmitt built by the same factory that had earlier built the Me109 fighter and Me262, the world's first practical jet plane. Introduced with a 175cc Sachs 2-stroke engine, a Plexiglas bubble roof, handlebar steering and a single rear driving wheel, Messerschmitt soon increased its displacement to a whole 191cc in the KR200. Its futuristic streamlined design with faired-in headlights, bulbous fenders and narrow tandem seating for two gives the Messerschmitt Kabinenroller a particular appeal, as well as a peculiar entry: the entire top of the bodywork pivots up and to the side, then folds back down over the occupants. Egress after a rollover can be a problem, but it also presents numerous opportunities for practical jokes. This 1955 Messerschmitt KR200 Kabinenroller has been restored in red with red vinyl upholstery. Its bubble roof has been superseded by a later black cloth folding cabriolet top which is more practical (particularly for taller drivers) and reduces the practical joke opportunities. Its two rear view mirrors protrude from the tops of the headlight nacelles on long stalks like the feelers of some aquatic creature and add to its other-worldly appeal. The four-speed sequential shift gearbox doesn't have reverse but the KR200 will back up ... after its two-stroke engine is re-started, rotating backwards. It is guaranteed to bring smiles to its driver, passenger and onlookers alike and gets great mileage on very low test fuel, but don't forget to mix it with oil.

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