Throwback Thursday: 1957 Messerschmitt KR200 first drive

The name “Messerschmitt” is synonymous with the Bf 109 fighter aircraft of the Second world war, the revolutionary German adversary to Britain’s Supermarine Spitfire.

This was the Messerschmitt company magnum opus, which says a lot, to see how close to the end of the war, it went on to produce the Me 262 Schwalbe, the first jet-powered aircraft to enter operational service.

But, the war lost, the German industry is still to a large extent, in tatters torn and restrictions on the country over a ban on the production of aircraft, until 1955, Germany’s most famous aircraft plants had to find another way to continue.

So, if it is addressed was in 1952 by former air force engineer, Fritz Fend with the idea of development of his car, three-Wheeler a wheelchair a micro – car popular in Germany at the time due to a lack of gasoline – a deal was quickly struck.

The first Messerschmitt ‘car’, then, was the KR175, baptized cabin scooter ‘scooter with cabin’. This was then developed into the KR200, which was released in the year 1955.

The 385lb three-wheeler that looked suspiciously similar to a fighter aircraft canopy, has been powered by a 191cc single-cylinder, two-stroke Fichtel & Sachs engine, which is a maximum of 10bhp at 5250rpm. This sent drive to the rear wheel through a four-speed sequential manual gearbox. The car was steered by a rotating bar control element, the required small-size, two-dimensional inputs.

11. In January 1957, Autocar climbed into the KR200 for a test drive.

“The KR200 falls in its own class between two-wheel scooter and a Mini-four-Wheeler,” we began. “Do you have a motorcycle license, you are not allowed to use it, on the contrary; if, on the other hand, you will normally travel with a car, then you you can.all the gears in reverse as well as forward

“We are licensed, four-wheel-drive vehicles, and the observations which follow, are from the point of view of the motorists, concluded with the three-wheeler as an extra fuel-saving car for himself and members of the family.

“The KR200 has a two-and-a-half of the seats, the driver has a key to itself and to the rear is a Bank that holds a small woman, and child, or a larger woman and a shopping cart. Behind the back there is a shelf for small packages, and the like. On a shopping trip, more packages can be placed on the floor of the two cockpits, without getting in the way.

“With the transparent (plexiglass) housing Board, draws about tax it is easy enough to step in the middle of the floor and seats. The passenger seat, raises facilitate some six inches and back to, the reduction of the own person. The ‘lid’ closes very easily and bolt down firmly, but it is quite difficult to raise if you want to get out again.

“As for the start, the petrol to the main simply rotates; pulling the choke, when cold, turns off the ignition switch, and a little further to engage the electrical dynamo starter. You will catch the engine on the gas pedal and let the choke slide in almost at once, or over-richness of the barn it again.

“Economy with reasonable performance is the desire of most owners today. The KR200-cruises happy at 40 mph with two, and it is so fast, the brand as most small cars. It covers the standing quarter-mile in 29.7 sec.” It took 10.7 sec 0-30mph and 20.0 sec hit miles in 40 hours.

“Driven solo, 45 mph could be used all day without pushing the engine. The brakes proved to be quite sufficient for all purposes, and speed in our testing.

“Any time the engine is loud or Intrusive; rather, you will notice the smooth flexibility and willingness to.

“With the hard drive, the KR200 fuel consumption dropped to 62mpg. Depending on the manner of driving, the 90mpg should be achievable and 75mpg could be normal, for everyday use.

“The control, especially when control is included, are unique. The pedals, including foot dip-switch, such as for a car. On the right side of a fore-and-aft shift lever, moved by hand, but operating like the foot of a motorcycle – four top, four bottom. A small trigger for the lever to the neutral mid-lever-position, whenever it is drawn. The gear change is easy and convenient, and the ratios are very happy.

“The steering of a wheel-cum-bar control, is a car/bike compromise.

“The suspension,” each wheel is independently sprung by rubber in torsion, “is firm but not hard. With small wheels and a short wheelbase, it is only reasonable to take the potholes slowly. The degree of bounce and pitch seems to be roughly proportional to the speed. Normally good surfaces, the ride is comfortable at all speeds, and the machine controls, unless the tyre pressure is uneven, whereby the driving stability is deteriorating.

“Until the driver is familiar with the feeling of travel and the idiosyncratic steering, he might be suffering from a lack of trust and faith that the KR200 are likely to roll in corners. In fact, it would be very awkward handling to lift a wheel or lose control when turning. The machine is motivated best, but as drawn, at the corners.

“At speed, a very small deflection of the steering rod to produce an abrupt swerve, but a fairly heavy load is required to control the travel, quickly or slowly.” This was because the KR200 of the steering column connected to the track rods of the front wheels, whereas most of the other cars of the time had a gearbox with a reduction ratio. “It is fair to say that the steering is not accepted take some getting used to, but again, it can be used to precisely drive.

“In the road, you can weave and queue-jump with the bikes. Car and truck drivers in General, treat it with amused tolerance, if you see that you – but this is a big ‘if’. So small and low to the KR200, the driver must be the allowances for non-seen to the vehicles of other full-size, to his right. A small mast with pennant can be mounted, select an item in the traffic.”

The Messerschmitt made a fine urban runabout, then, as we come to the conclusion: “An average-sized man can wear, the hat, and the arrival in his office on time in the KR200, warm, dry and clean. For long trips, but more comfortable Seating would be welcome, but the KR200 is a small vehicle that most drivers would like to own. There is room to park always seems to be, and despite its small proportions, it is neither close nor fragile.”

Around 40,000 KR200s were built, with production ending in 1964. During this time, Messerschmitt had to largely Fend can deal with the production of passenger cars and went back to doing what it is still the best, with the companies building the Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter”, under the license, and founder of the design of the supersonic delta-wing-Helwan HA-300 fighter jets to the Egyptian air force.