Messerschmitt KR200 (1955 – 1964) Review

Messerschmitt KR200 (1955 – 1964) At A Glance


+Excellent performance and economy

-For hardcore fans only

During the 1950s, there was a need for inexpensive and no-frills transport – and the bubble cars were perfectly placed to meet the demand, even though they seem laughable today. Known as the 'Kabinroller', and the brainchild of German aircraft engineer Fritz Fend, the first bubble car appeared out of the Messerschmitt aeroplane factory in 1953. The uprated KR200 appeared in 1955 and featured an aeroplane-like one-piece perspex canopy through which the cabin was accessed. Just like a plane's cockpit, passengers sat in tandem, while steering was via a pair of motorcycle-style handlebars.

Powered by a 191cc single-cylinder engine, developing 10bhp, it was surprisingly quick thanks to car's minimal weight and tubular spaceframe construction, and impressive aerodynamics – a top speed of 62mph was positively scary. With cable-operated brakes and a rudimentary swing-beam suspension set-up, this was fast enough for most, while those requiring hood-down motoring could opt for a convertible version. It was the ultimate in low-cost wind in the hair motoring. Kabinrollers sold well and because of their simple construction and ease of maintenance, they had a high survival rate means they're not too difficult to find. The Mini was introduced as a direct response to these cars – and their popularity waned as a result.