Messerschmitt’s delightful bubble-topped microcars came about due to the need for economical transportation following World War II—and, also, the fact that Messerschmitt was temporarily banned from the production of aircraft following the cessation of hostilities. In 1952, Messerschmitt was approached by aircraft engineer Fritz Fend, who had designed a three-wheel invalid carriage. Fend had built about 250 of these Fend Flitzers through 1951, many of which were purchased by able-bodied people as simple transport.
Fend's deal called for assembly at Messerschmitt’s factory in Regensburg, Germany, with the vehicles carrying the Messerschmitt name. The first model was the KR 175, the KR signifying Kabinenroller, or “enclosed scooter,” and 175 for the metric displacement of its two-stroke engine. The improved KR 200 followed in 1955. This had a 10-horsepower, Fichtel & Sachs, 191-cubic-centimeter two-stroke engine, an improved canopy, and a revised suspension. To reverse, the engine was merely re-started in the other direction, providing four speeds backward as well as forward.
In a notable demonstration of its capabilities, a modified KR 200 set 22 international records for three-wheel vehicles in a 24-hour run at the Hockenheimring racetrack in 1955. However, as Messerschmitt refocused on aircraft production in 1956, interest in the Kabinenrollers waned, leading to the subsequent transfer of assembly responsibilities to Fend's company, Fahrzeug und Maschinenbau Regensburg (F.M.R.). The production of the KR200 significantly decreased by 1962 and eventually ceased in 1964, partly due to the burgeoning German economy and the rising popularity of vehicles like the Mini, particularly in the United Kingdom, which was a major export market.
This exquisite 1963 KR200, characterized by its iconic transparent bubble top canopy, represents one of the last models, having been constructed in the penultimate year of its production run. It has been meticulously restored by a European specialist in the marque, featuring a period-authentic ivory exterior complemented by black trim with white piping. This example must be one of the finest available today; it is certain to make a superb addition to your collection of microcars, scooters, or any other grouping of fun, eclectic vehicles.
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