Myth Buster

Messer­schmitt

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Richard Gunn

1 THEY USED RE­DUN­DANT FIGHTER CANOPIES

The story goes that, at the end of World War Two, the Messer­schmitt fac­tory had so many old fighter cock­pits hang­ing around that it de­cided to turn them into cars. Um, nope. The cars were built at the old Me109 plant in Re­gens­burg, West Ger­many, but the orig­i­nal KR175 wasn’t launched un­til 1953. They were de­signed by aero­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer, Fritz Fend, but he based them on his ear­lier Fend Fl­itzer in­valid car­riages.

2 THEY’RE MADE OUT OF GLASS­FI­BRE

No again. The Kabin­roller – or Cabin Scooter, as the as­sorted Messer­schmitt off­shoots were chris­tened – had a tri­an­gu­lated tubu­lar steel frame onto which steel body pan­els were welded to form a stressed skin. The clear canopy was made from Plex­i­glass, apart from the ac­tual front wind­screen, which was formed out of safety glass. It was the stream­lined shape that chiefly al­lowed good per­for­mance (a max­i­mum speed of 60mph) plus ef­fec­tive fuel con­sump­tion (around 100mpg) from the ini­tial 174cc 9bhp en­gine.

3 THE FOUR­WHEEL­ERS WERE MESSER­SCHMITT TIGERS

A four-wheeled ver­sion of the Kabin­roller was in­tro­duced in 1958. But it was nei­ther a Messer­schmitt nor a Tiger – it was an FMR Tg500. When Messer­schmitt was al­lowed to man­u­fac­ture air­craft again, in 1956, it lost in­ter­est in bubblecars and sold its fac­tory to Fritz Fend, who co-founded Fahrzeug-und Maschi­nen­bau GmbH Re­gens­burg (FMR) to con­tinue pro­duc­tion. The four-wheeler was never badged as a Messer­schmitt. As the Tiger name was used by Krupp in Ger­many and Pan­hard in France, the ‘ Tg’ ti­tle was cho­sen in­stead.

Body pan­els are not glass­fi­bre, and the canopy is not from a plane!

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