Market Finds: Is This Aviation-Inspired Microcar The Classic To Help Rediscover Your 5-Year-Old Self?

Is This Aviation-Inspired Microcar The Classic To Help Rediscover Your 5-Year-Old Self?

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
June 14, 2016
4 comments

Nothing says, “I’m not ready to grow up,” like a three-wheeled petrol-powered street-legal trike. For auto aficionados, the Morgan Three Wheeler generally seems to be the most acceptable child’s toy for us big kids. Despite the soon-to-be-released all electric EV3, purchasing a three wheeled Morgan isn’t a practical daily driver—even if it’s “zero-emissions”.

Buying a Morgan (or any other) adult-sized trike is, however you want to label it, an irrational purchase. It’s a niche car with more character than The Three Stooges, it doesn’t go all that quickly, and being handmade in small numbers, it’s not cheap either.

But…who cares? Driving one will turn you into a superhero. Everyone will take notice, ask questions in bewilderment, and morph into the paparazzi. This thing, however novel it may be, is just cool. It oozes the stuff. It’s a smile inducing open-top-motoring piece of kit built for one silly thing: joy. But it’s not the first motorcycle with an extra wheel. In fact, there have been a surprising number of number road-going three wheeled vehicles over the years, like this 1959 Messerschmitt “Kabinenroller” 200.

After the Second World War, Messerschmitt was no longer permitted to manufacture aircraft…for obvious reasons. Determined to stay productive, aeronautical engineer Fritz Fend took his work from the sky to the open road. The first vehicle he designed was the Kabinenroller, or “cabin scooter,” 175—more commonly referred to simply as the KR175. His aviation-inspired KR175 was released in 1952 and offered a more affordable means of personal transportation to the masses.

Over the next few years, Fritz reengineered the entire KR175 for the follow up KR200 model, but kept many of the plane-influenced characteristics. Featuring a side-hinged flip-up bubble canopy, an aircraft-like steering bar connected to a horizontal axis steering rack, and tandem style two-seat cabin layout, the aeronautical genetics are evident—you’re a dash-mounted crosshair away from engaging in some dogfighting on your way to the office.

Powered by a sub-1o horsepower two-stroke Fichtel & Sachs single-cylinder, the air-cooled rear-engine ground-glider could achieve 80 miles to the gallon—regurgitate this bit to convince your significant other you’re buying this for its fuel efficiency.

Ralph Hough, the President of the Messerschmitt Owner’s Club of North America, recently recommissioned this KR200’s powertrain from certified parts sourced from the Messerschmitt Owner’s Club of England. After the engine and transmission were rebuilt, the cyclecar was shipped to Nova Scotia for a complete 500-hour aesthetic restoration.

The engine compartment and cabin panels were refinished in the correct factory grey paint. The body was resprayed back to its original funky turquoise hue using BASF urethane paint complete with off-white deluxe body moldings and its original tinted canopy visor. Messerschmitt interior guru, Nick Poll, installed a new interior kit, completing the restoration.

Since being renewed, this KR200 has only seen 25 miles of use. Rebuilt and ready for another half-century of hilarity, this cabin scooter is sure to bring a smile to any catching you put around town in it. Included in the sale is the original jack and roof rack, which you’ll need for your briefcase or a 6-pack of your favorite Hefeweizen.

History
– Fresh, full restoration; over 500 hours
– Parts sourced from the Messerschmitt Owner’s Club in England
– Driven only 25 miles since completed
– Extensive historical documentation

Specifications

~9.7 horsepower, 191-cc Fichtel & Sachs two-stroke single-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent torsilastic rubber suspension, and cable-operated mechanical drum brakes. Wheelbase: 82 in.

Vehicle information

Chassis no.: 72056
Engine no.: 3031643

Valuation

Auction house: Sotheby’s

Estimate: (No reserve)

Price realized: Auction on July 30

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Darel Matthews
Darel Matthews

Can someone tell me, did people ACTUALLY drive these back when they were new? Or were they then, what they are now, a curiousity, a toy, a street-legal go-kart? They’re neat and all, and I’m sure very cheap and fuel efficient, when new anyway, but were there postwar Germans who would take the wife down to the Messerschmitt dealer to czech out (see what I did there) the new Kabinrollers? I mean, I’ve driven large American luxury cars from the ’20s and ’30s and the whole driving experience is just abhorrent. I can’t imagine someone making the drive home in… Read more »

Patrick Peters
Patrick Peters

yes they did! in Overasselt, the village where my parents grew up, sombody had one of these. In the netherlands that is.

Darel Matthews
Darel Matthews

Wow, thanks Patrick! Glad I found someone with firsthand knowledge.

Thomas maine
Thomas maine

Interesting “car” and cute. A friend of mine has one and driving it on the road in normal traffic scared me.