Monday, March 02, 2009
Messerschmitt KR200: The cabin scooter, from the streets of Tokyo!
One of our readers – Horacio – has sent us these pics from Japan, where you can see a Messerschmitt KR200 parked at the Kuramaebashi Dori and Chuo Dori crossing, in the Akihabara District in Tokyo. Yes, the Messerschmitt is really more of a three-wheeled car rather than a motorcycle-style trike, but okay, it’s just so very, very cool that we couldn’t resist posting these pics here…
The Messerschmitt KR200 was designed by an aircraft engineer – Fritz Fend – and around 40,000 units of this ‘bubble car’ were built between 1955 and 1964, in Germany. With two seats in tandem, the vehicle had motorcycle-like one-behind-the-other seating for two people. The engine was a Fitchel & Sachs, 191cc two-stroke single-cylinder unit, mated to a four-speed manual transmission. With about 10bhp, the KR200 had a top speed of 100km/h and at 30km/l, it was also quite fuel-efficient.
At 229 kilos, the Messerschmitt KR200 was actually lighter than, say, a BMW K1300GT, which weighs 255 kilos. The KR200’s manufacturers actually referred to it as a ‘Kabinenroller’ (scooter with a cabin), so maybe this was the 1950s equivalent of the BMW C1? In any case, with its removable soft-top and tandem seating for two, the KR200 was as close as anything could get to being a three-wheeled motorcycle. Today, a well-maintained KR200 could go for anywhere between US$15,000-25,000.
Here, we’ll also note that the Messerschmitt KR200 may soon have a spiritual successor – Gordon Murray’s T.25 city car may actually be very close to the old Messerschmitt in many ways! More about the T.25 here and here’s an interview with Murray himself.