Buying Classics Abroad
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.