Messerschmitt KR 200 – Only flying is better
When Fritz Fend moved to Rosenheim after the war to continue running his parents’ grocery shop, he did so reluctantly. After all, he had studied and was involved in the development of the landing gear for the first jet fighters at Messerschmitt Flugzeugwerke. In his spare time, he began to design a bicycle with weather protection.
A further development was then given a small engine and as early as 1948 the first small series of the Fend Flitzer was produced, a single-seater with a 38 cc Victoria engine and 1 hp. The second series then had a Sachs engine with 98 cc and an output of 2.5 hp. The third series got a 98 cc Riedel engine which already delivered 4.5 hp. But he lacked the capital for larger series, so he looked around for a partner. He found one in his former employer Willy Messerschmitt, who was no longer allowed to build aircrafts. He had the premises and the machines to set up series production.
THE MESSERSCHMITT KR 200 DELIVERS MOTORBIKE FEELING ON THREE WHEELS
The Messerschmitt KR 175 was launched in March 1953. KR for cabin scooter and 175 for engine capacity. In contrast to the earlier Fend runabouts, the KR 175 had two seats, one behind the other, just like a scooter or motorbike. Motorbike feeling also came up at the wheel.
The KR 175 had handlebars like those of a motorbike and also the throttle grip like the same. Despite its only 9 hp from the 175 cm Sachs engine, the KR reached a top speed of around 90 km/h. After almost 20,000 KR 175s, the KR 200 was launched at the beginning of 1955. The single-cylinder two-stroke Sachs engine had an output of 10.2 hp. With this, the vehicles could reach around 100 km/h. The accelerator, brake and clutch were now conventional like on a car.
The handlebars looked a bit like those of an aeroplane. In contrast to the KR 175, there was now also a reverse gear. At the push of a button, the engine could be started in reverse and you then had four reverse gears. The 1:1 steering made the KR very manoeuvrable, but it took a bit of practice to drive the vehicle.
THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE MESSERSCHMITT KR 200 WAS FASTER THAN THE COMPETITION
In 1957 the Karo production was taken over by Fritz Fend und Partner under the name Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH Regensburg, FMR for short. The Messerschmitt KR 200, now FMR KR 200, continued to be built unchanged. A convertible version KR 201 was added.
At the end of 1957, Fend launched the FMR Tiger, which for legal reasons had to be called the TG 500, a sports car. This was a car developed from the KR 200, now with four wheels. The engine was a two-cylinder two-stroke engine from Sachs. At first it produced 19.9 hp, later 24.5 hp. This gave the lightweight (350 kg) vehicle a top speed of 130 km/h, which was faster than any VW and faster than many medium-sized cars.
Unfortunately, the TG 500 was not full-throttle and thus got a bad reputation, which affected sales. Until the beginning of 1964, the KR 200 and the TG 500 were still being built in Regensburg, alongside the new business of FMR Getränke Automaten, before only the vending machines were finally built.
From 1953 onwards, Karo Clubs were founded throughout Germany and neighbouring countries, some of which still exist today.
Text: Thomas Ulrich Pictures: Balz Schreier/Zwischengas
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