Drive and Enjoy: 1953 Messerschmitt KR175

The Messerschmitt KR175 was really motoring at its most basic, but that hasn’t stopped it, and its larger-capacity siblings, from developing cult car status. This particular 1953 model runs and drives, and it is being sold out of a large collection of similar micro-cars. It is located in Perrysburg, Ohio, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN price for the KR175 has been set at $65,000, but the option is available to make an offer.

It can be hard to get a real idea of just how minuscule a Messerschmitt really is, but placing this one beside the diminutive BMW Isetta allows you to gain a full understanding. The KR175 was just one of an enormous range of micro-cars produced by numerous manufacturers following the end of World War II, and some of these were more successful than others. The KR175 enjoyed reasonable success, with estimates placing production at anywhere from 15,000 to 19,000 cars. This one appears to be a clean and honest survivor and doesn’t appear to be suffering from any obvious rust issues. Thankfully, the distinctive bubble canopy appears to be in good order, as while reproduction replacements can be sourced, they are not a cheap item.

Interior accommodation in a Messerschmitt is definitely designed for two people, although, (quite horrifyingly), I have seen an advertisement from the period that describes the rear parcel tray as being suitable to transport an infant! That’s a concept that would have our safety experts hyperventilating today. Seating is tandem, which allows for a slim body, and the upholstery on the seats looks to be quite good. Cabin heating is provided by the sun blazing through the canopy, while ventilation is provided by opening the sliding windows. The driver controls on a KR175 can confuse some people because the clutch for operating the 4-speed manual transmission is a lever attached to the shifter, the accelerator is via a motorcycle-style twist grip on the left side of the steering yolk, while the single pedal operates the mechanical brakes on all three wheels. The only luxury feature I can spot is that this Messerschmitt appears to be fitted with the “Dynastart” electric starter.

Powering the KR175, is a 174cc Fichtel and Sachs single-cylinder, 2-stroke engine, producing around 9hp. This rear-mounted engine sends its power to the single rear wheel via a 4-speed manual transmission with chain drive. A reverse gear? Not even an option, my friends. With only 460lbs to push, that little engine could propel the Messerschmitt along to a top speed of 50mph. However, the car definitely required your complete attention at those sorts of speeds, because it has just about the most direct steering ever fitted to a production car. It feels like it is about one sneeze from lock to lock, and it is really the only aspect of driving a Messerschmitt that takes some adapting to. It takes no time at all for the remaining controls to feel quite natural. The owner does say that the little KR175 is a pleasure to drive, and one of the great bonuses of these little cars is that maintenance is actually a pretty easy process.

The owner of this Messerschmitt KR175 is an obvious enthusiast, because in addition to several examples of the Isetta, the KR175 shares garage space with a nice looking Honda Z, and a pair of Peel P50s (a breeding pair?). At $65,000, it is by no means a cheap car, but this sort of price for a KR175 isn’t unprecedented. Part of this is due to the fact that the KR175 only remained in production from 1953 until 1955, while low production numbers, especially when compared to the later KR200, also makes them more of a rarity. They don’t come onto the market that often, and two recent examples have both sold for around the asking price of this one. It might not be a muscle car, but it is a car that should get the next owner plenty of attention at the next Cars & Coffee.

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    If you don’t already have a claustrophobia you will have after spending time in these things. Really well built and a lot of fun but the side by side style is a lot more comfortable. Amazed at the money they are getting out of these cars.

    Like 2
    • Dickie F

      Mr Adam Clarke that is one of the best classic car write ups I have ever read.
      Even I at my 63 years of age and who occasionally runs around on a Honda 1100 Blackbird and a 70 Mach 1, now want to own this 175cc thingy.
      Your obviously have vast knowledge of these cars and may have tripped over a few when you went walkabout in your youth…

      Like 2
  2. RayT Member

    Adam, the steering isn’t all that much of a difficulty. When I drove one of these (a KR 200) a few years back, I felt pretty comfortable with it in less than a mile. It did require that the pilot pay attention, but then so did everything else in the cockpit! On a busy urban boulevard, the Messerschmitt occupants see mainly the hubcaps of other cars….

    Would I like to have this? Definitely! It’d be especially handy on the narrow streets in my small town. But I see the seller is also offering up a Honda Z-Car, the same color as the one I had back in ’72, and for considerably less money.

    I’m going to have to think about that one. The KR 175 will have to wait ’til I win the lottery.

    Like 1
  3. canadainmarkseh Member

    Dang that’s a lot of money to drive around in a death trap. I’m curious with only 3 wheels would it be considered a cycle car which would require helmets in a lot of places or is it a car. Actually you could probably buy 3 new Can-am spiders for that much coin and have a lot more fun than this will give, because the truth is this will just sit around and gather dust most of the time. It is really an artifact from post war Germany that should be in a museum, and brought out on parade day. JMO.

    Like 4
  4. Tony

    “yolk”?

  5. Rube Goldberg Member

    This Mike Wolfe bought one very similar, only in like new condition and paid a whopping $35,000 bucks, so I think this is way out of line, even Frank thought he was nuts. Let’s see, this or an XKE. I guess people with money don’t think that way.

    Like 3
    • Mountainwoodie

      Hey Rube..I was just watching that Pickers episode. I think the one Wolfe swallowed hard and bought was the convertible, not the bubble top and apparently the bubble top is worth less than the convertible. So if Wolfe knows his stuff on Mschmidts……this one is way high..and you will cook in that bubble top

  6. Brent

    When I was just a wee tike a man in town drove a red one of these to work everyday. Wanted one ever since. Now that I can afford one I be too old and decrepit to get in the damn thing. Life just ain’t fair.

    Like 4
  7. Gaspumpchas

    I knew of 3 guys that were killed in small 3 wheel cars, Canadainmarkseh is correct, death trap. Good luck to the new owner.

    Cheers
    GPC

    Like 1
  8. pixelpusher

    One of the few cars that looks small compared to an Isetta.

  9. Stilbo

    If I had $65,000 in spare change laying around I’d buy a broad banded hat and drive this little guy while humming the theme song from the movie “Brazil”.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iTYUPuZGbes

    Like 2
  10. Dickie F

    Mr Adam Clarke that is one of the best classic car write ups I have ever read.
    Even I at 63 years of age and who occasionally runs around on a Honda 1100 Blackbird and a 70 Mach 1, now want to own this 175cc thingy.
    Your obviously have vast knowledge of these cars and may have tripped over a few when you went walkabout in your youth…

    Like 1
  11. Comet

    You guys are slipping, not one mention of an LS swap.

    Like 3
  12. steve

    I know a fellow who has one of these (or maybe the BIG BLOCK KR 200) in his living room. Road Registered and inspected…But…..
    A conversation piece? Sure..but that’s a lot of talking for that kind of money….

  13. Upchucked

    Growing up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania, one of the MDs in town drove up and down the hills all the time in a brown Isetta, and then in the evenings and weekends, he drove a Red Messerschmitt. Oh, and he had to be one of the fattest guys in town, probably over 300#, and about 5’7″.

    Like 1
  14. jimmy the orphan

    Yep. I thought that’s what Mike Wolf paid for that red one. This 66 yr. old already has a thingy. PASS…………………………….JIMMY

  15. Regg

    It must be on a chicken farm cause 65k is a yolk.

    Like 2

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