In the early 50's when the VW was just beginning to think of attacking the huge American Auto Market, if Messerschmitt had been given half a chance and a back seat, things might have been different! The Messerschmitt Kabinenroller KR175 was a microauto produced by Messerschmitt (a German aircraft manufacturer which was prohibited from making cars after WWII clear up to the 1950's due to a whim of MacArthur's), beginning in 1953, designed by aircraft engineers and not unlike a airplane cockpit in appearance. It has two wheels in front and one in back, a kick starter and other motor-scooter-like controls (handlebar for steering with twist-grip throttle and clutch lever), a hand-operated windshield wiper, and no reverse gear. The passenger (copilot) seat is behind the driver seat. Weight: 230 Kg. Cost: DM 2100, or about 500 US 1955 dollars. 65,000 were manufactured before production stopped in 1962. Later models had automobile-like controls, a reverse gear, and eventually four wheels.
After the War, only the very rich had full-size autos. Kleinwagen were more affordable and a very common sight, especially the Messerschmitt.
Not many of these made it to the US as the VW steamrolled over any competition on it's way to capture the American heart.
My guess is that this car would have a large acceptance here in the US now that gas is so pricey! It got 50-70 mpg, but dished out a lot of punishment in the quality of ride and comfort!
Copyright 2006 BS Brash