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Saturday, June 20, 2009

My next car

In anticipation of a big pay-out from my school - see precious post "The week that was!" -, I've placed an advance order with Volkswagen for a VW 1L - so named because it will go 100 km on one litre of petrol! - which will go into production in 2010. More information ...

A beautiful-looking car and what an engineering feat! It is, of course, quite reminiscent of the Messerschmitt of the fifties. No, not this one:

but this one:

This little car, known as a "Kabinenroller", was every young man's dream in post-war Germany when stringent restrictions imposed by the Allies forced the former aircraft manufacturer Messerschmitt to turn its attention to car production. It became one of the best known “bubble car” manufacturers and produced the Kabinenroller until the early 1960s.

The idea to produce such a car had originally been conceived by Fritz Fend, an ex-Luftwaffe pilot, to provide inexpensive transport for disabled ex-servicemen. Manufacture started at the Messerschmitt factory in Regensburg with the first model, the KR 75, powered by a 175 cc, single-cylinder, two-stroke Sachs engine with controls similar to those of a motorcycle.

In 1955 the KR 200 appeared, an updated, more-refined version of the KR 175, offering a wider track, an optional additional seat and a 199 cc engine. The vehicle had four forward gears and independent front and rear suspension, not to mention a peculiar reversing procedure which involved turning off the ignition and flicking an electric switch, effectively turning the engine in the opposite direction. The KR 200 produced 10 hp at 5,520 rpm with 0-50 mph in a breathtaking 40 seconds; most important however was the 70-85 mpg.

There are car clubs in Europe, the US, and elsewhere that still value these cars, usually for their quirky character rather than their actual monetary value. Nonetheless, some collectors will pay over 10,000 euros for a well-maintained "Schmitt."