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Messerschmitt KR200, the super cool bubble car from the 50s

Alex .A

Noted for its odd appearance, the Messerschmitt did not fail to win the hearts of thousands of people across Europe.

Yes, we are talking about that weird, bubble-fashioned, three-wheels-only car that saw its heyday during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Several models of this micro-car were released by its manufacturers, such as KR175 and KR200. Its German name is Kabinenroller and translates into “scooter with a cabin.”

Roughly 40,000 models were sold after it was introduced to the market in 1956, until 1964, when production ceased.

However, that was just enough time for the bubble car to establish itself as an entirely new niche in the car industry, which consequently also attracted others to produce their own variations of the model.

Painted blue, with neat leather seats, the interior of an elegant Messerschmitt three-wheeler, Photo by Norbert Aepli CC BY 2.5

Painted blue, with neat leather seats, the interior of an elegant Messerschmitt three-wheeler, Photo by Norbert Aepli CC BY 2.5

 

Are they racing? Four Messerschmitts on the autobahn, Photo by Kenneth Allen CC BY-SA 2.0

Are they racing? Four Messerschmitts on the autobahn, Photo by Kenneth Allen CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Two red Kabinenrollers, one with a case fixed to the luggage rack, being admired by enthusiasts

Two red Kabinenrollers, one with a case fixed to the luggage rack, being admired by enthusiasts

 

FMR Messerschmitt KR 200 ‘Super’; this is reportedly the model that broke dozens of speed records back in its day as its manufacturers wanted to demonstrate the car’s durability and speed, Photo: Alf van Beem – Own work

FMR Messerschmitt KR 200 ‘Super’; this is reportedly the model that broke dozens of speed records back in its day as its manufacturers wanted to demonstrate the car’s durability and speed, Photo: Alf van Beem – Own work

 

White and blue model of the bubble car with a cute trailer, Photo by Brian Snelson CC BY 2.0

White and blue model of the bubble car with a cute trailer, Photo by Brian Snelson CC BY 2.0

 

Only one passenger please, Photo by Brian Snelson CC BY 2.0

Only one passenger please, Photo by Brian Snelson CC BY 2.0

 

The control board of a KR200 model, Photo by Bruno Kussler Marques CC BY 2.0

The control board of a KR200 model, Photo by Bruno Kussler Marques CC BY 2.0

 

Black and white photography from 1969, showing the bubble car in front of a seemingly abandoned house, Photo by FORTEPAN / Lechner Nonprofit Kft. Dokumentációs Központ CC BY-SA 3.0

Black and white photography from 1969, showing the bubble car in front of a seemingly abandoned house, Photo by FORTEPAN / Lechner Nonprofit Kft. Dokumentációs Központ CC BY-SA 3.0

You don’t often get to see one of these in the parking lot. Side view of a blue three-wheeler, Photo by Noebu CC BY 2.5

You don’t often get to see one of these in the parking lot. Side view of a blue three-wheeler, Photo by Noebu CC BY 2.5

In the beginning, the Messerschmitt name didn’t have anything to do with cars. It was originally a company that produced aircraft, ever since World War One.

The Bf 1909 aircraft models and later the famed Me 262, the world’s first jet-powered operational airplane fighter model, were the product of the same manufacturer that later became famous for its micro-cars.

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After World War Two, the German company was banned from producing planes as part of the denazification process, therefore temporarily shifted to production of prefab houses.

The bubble-shaped car arrived only in the mid-1950s, when the company opted to reinvent its production line once again. The change was worth it, as there was suddenly this adorable, now all-about-vintage car you can take a look at in the photographs below.

A 1956 model out for a roadtrip. Messerschmitt produced these strange-looking automobiles from 1955 until 1964. Photo by FORTEPAN / Négyesi Pál CC BY-SA 3.0

A 1956 model out for a roadtrip. Messerschmitt produced these strange-looking automobiles from 1955 until 1964. Photo by FORTEPAN / Négyesi Pál CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Messerschmitt Kabinenroller from 1956, Photo by FORTEPAN / Négyesi Pál CC BY-SA 3.0

Messerschmitt Kabinenroller from 1956, Photo by FORTEPAN / Négyesi Pál CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Inside the “cockpit” of a KR 200 model, Photo by Lothar Spurzem CC BY-SA 2.0 de

Inside the “cockpit” of a KR 200 model, Photo by Lothar Spurzem CC BY-SA 2.0 de

 

Messerschmitt KR 200 Cabrio-Limousine, painted yellow, Photo by Lothar Spurzem CC BY-SA 2.0 de

Messerschmitt KR 200 Cabrio-Limousine, painted yellow, Photo by Lothar Spurzem CC BY-SA 2.0 de

 

A Messerschmitt KR 200, produced in 1955. This one comes with a trailer too, Photo by Lothar Spurzem CC BY-SA 2.0 de

A Messerschmitt KR 200, produced in 1955. This one comes with a trailer too, Photo by Lothar Spurzem CC BY-SA 2.0 de

 

Exhibited here is a model KR175 Messerschmitt, Photo by Clément Bucco-Lechat, CC BY-SA 3.0

Exhibited here is a model KR175 Messerschmitt, Photo by Clément Bucco-Lechat, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

As good as new, a green-painted stunning-looking KR200 model, Photo by Jin Kemoole, CC BY 2.0

As good as new, a green-painted stunning-looking KR200 model, Photo by Jin Kemoole, CC BY 2.0

The Messerschmitt management did not come up with the idea of the three-wheeler by themselves, however. It was reportedly a man known as Fritz Fend, who had, during World War Two, served as a technical officer with the German Air Force.

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He approached the company with an invention he came up with in the years following the end of the war, the “Fend Filtzer,” a carriage that sported three wheels only.

The model came with an additional motor and the entire machine resembled an early version of an automated wheelchair, CarBuzz writes.

It will certainly make your day if you see a red Messerschmitt KR200

It will certainly make your day if you see a red Messerschmitt KR200

Messerschmitt KR200, opened to show off its beautifully simple interior, Photo by Brian Snelson, CC BY 2.0

Messerschmitt KR200, opened to show off its beautifully simple interior, Photo by Brian Snelson, CC BY 2.0

 

Blue bubble-car gleaming in the sun, Photo by François de Dijon, CC BY-SA 3.0

Blue bubble-car gleaming in the sun, Photo by François de Dijon, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Turkish writer Yılmaz Onay (left) and actor Erol Keskin in a Messerschmitt, 1968, Photo by Yılmaz Onay, CC BY-SA 3.0

Turkish writer Yılmaz Onay (left) and actor Erol Keskin in a Messerschmitt, 1968, Photo by Yılmaz Onay, CC BY-SA 3.0

The bubble car that came as an improvement of Fend’s original invention, and his collaboration with the Messerschmitt management, was destined to have an aircraft-like hint, one that could be easily spotted in the car design.

Just notice in the photos above how the car can be opened, with a canopy-like opening on the top instead of regular-looking doors, or the combination of tandem seats, also typical for combat aircraft of the day.

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It’s no surprise really, as the manufacturers and Fend both had a long history in the aviation field. No regrets and no complaints either. Perhaps the bubble car is now part of history, but even the quickest glance will melt your heart.

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