Buy­ing Clas­sics Abroad

Messerschmitt KR200

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

The more scarce and de­sir­able a clas­sic car be­comes, the more vi­able it is for en­thu­si­asts to build their own replica parts, and some­times whole bodyshells. When this is done to a se­ri­ous com­mer­cial level, it can call into ques­tion the value of im­port­ing com­plete ve­hi­cles from far-flung places.

This is the sit­u­a­tion to­day with Messer­schmitts, which are now sought-af­ter through­out the world. In the UK – the KR200’s big­gest ex­port mar­ket – about 500 have sur­vived, though they spend much of their time dis­creetly tucked away. As we go to press, there’s just one listed on clas­s­ic­cars­for­sale.co.uk

Pow­ered by a 191cc sin­gle-cylin­der, the classy lit­tle mi­cro­car’s ar­rival co­in­cided with the soar­ing cost of petrol in the af­ter­math of the Suez Cri­sis – so its fru­gal­ity won it many friends in the cash-strapped Bri­tain of the late 1950s.

To­day they fetch big prices, which­ever part of the world you search in. That’s con­firmed by David Gar­ner, chair­man of the Messerschmitt Own­ers’ Club (messerschmitt.co.uk) and owner of seven ex­am­ples, in­clud­ing one that’s been his for more than 50 years. ‘Prices are uni­ver­sally high so there’s no coun­try you can go to to im­port them cheaply,’ he tells us. ‘It’s not like find­ing cheaper Bri­tish clas­sics in Cal­i­for­nia, for in­stance. I knew of a cou­ple that came in from South Africa last year, but there are very few over there – and the dif­fer­ence in price was so mar­ginal, there was lit­tle to be gained.’

They can also be found in Ar­gentina, but David ad­vises that it’s just not worth the cost and com­pli­ca­tion of trans­port con­sid­er­ing the poor con­di­tion the ve­hi­cles are of­ten in. In fact, in some cases the weak pound has ac­tu­ally helped for­eign buy­ers to snap up KR200s in the UK and take them home. Thanks in part to the cen­tral steer­ing wheel and lack of ma­jor dif­fer­ences in spec be­tween mar­kets, buy­ers can be found in any coun­try.

If your world­wide search doesn’t un­cover one in good enough con­di­tion, you’re prob­a­bly bet­ter off restor­ing one us­ing new panels. Swedish com­pany Messer­schmittparts.com is a good source of replica panels.

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