BMW was not the only German manufacturer with aircraft heritage to produce a Microcar. The Isetta is well known as the bubble car, but the Messerschmitt is almost as famous in Europe as an iconic Microcar. Following WWII, Messerschmidt was not allowed to produce aircraft, so they turned to other products like household goods and prefab houses. In 1952, Fritz Fend licensed them to build his Microcar design which was reportedly based on the cockpit of the messerschmidt fighter plane. Messerschmidt set up a separate company to do so, and agreed to lend their brand name to the effort more so than anything else.
In 1953, the first cars rolled out of the factory as model KR175. It was a three-wheeled design with two wheels up front similar to a Morgan. The passenger compartment opened using a clamshell design. The vehicle became known as the kabinenroller which translates into “scooter with cabin”. It seated two people inline like the aircraft they formerly produced, and had a steering control more like an aircraft as well. The vehicle had a curb weight of under 500 lbs. This was motorcycle territory for weight, but it offered weather protection and the familiar controls and operation of a car. They were off to a good start.
In 1955, the initial model was succeeded by the KR200. Curb weight climbed to just over 500 lbs, but the canopy was redesigned, and shocks were now on all three wheels. The new Messerschmitt was powered by a 191cc two-stroke single from Fichtel and Sachs providing enough power (around 10hp) for speeds in excess of 60 mph. The model changes were well received by the public, and the KR200 sold well. In 1957 and the following years, other variants were introduced including a cabriolet, a roadster, and a four-wheeled version called the TG500 produced separately by FMR. Of course, anything produced in Europe in this era was somehow raced, regardless of suitability to the task. The Kabinenrollers diced on the track and even set a land speed record for their class!
As the 1960s began, Messerschmitt was allowed to return to aircraft production, and it quickly wound down the Microcar “sideline”. By the time they ended production, some 40,000 microcars had left the factory. This was a mere fraction of the 160,000 BMW Isettas, but a respectable number overall for a one off niche vehicle. Today the Kabinenrollers have a strong cult following internationally and there a clubs on most continents.