What Happened To The Three-Wheeled Car Built By An Airplane Manufacturer

The Messerschmitt KR200 is a popular collectible microcar from the ’50s. It was manufactured by an aerospace company after World War II. The income from the KR200 kept the aerospace company in business during a post-war ban on airplane manufacturing.

Following is a transcript of the video:

Narrator: Microcars. You know, those tiny cars that look like they barely fit one person, typically powered by a motorcycle engine, and most importantly, affordable. In the ’50s, they could be seen puttering down European streets. As silly as a lot of these cars looked, they were actually a big business. So big, in fact, that one actually saved an aerospace company from going out of business.

Narrator: This is the Messerschmitt KR200. KR stands for Kabinenroller, which translates to “cabin scooter.” It’s a pretty accurate description of the car since it has a motorcycle engine and handlebars for a steering wheel.  

Jeff Lane: The Messerschmitt was also touted as a three-seater. So their claim was that one person, of course, sat in the front to drive, and then you could have two people in the back, one on each side, they put their legs up like this. They’d have to be smaller people, and, of course, you gotta remember that these cars were made to go 10, 20, 30 miles. They weren’t made to drive across California or anything like that.

Narrator: Preceding the KR200 was the Fend Flitzer, a microcar conceived by German designer Fritz Fend. It was made to be an accessible car for people who use wheelchairs.Jeff: It was very similar to this car. And he made the door open like this, so if you were in a wheelchair, you could wheel up to the car like this, and then you would transfer over, bring your legs over like that, get in, and then — down like that, and you could drive the car.

Narrator: The full potential of the Fend Flitzer wouldn’t be realized until after World War II. When a postwar ban on aircraft production in Germany went in effect, airplane manufacturer Messerschmitt AG had to look for other ways to stay in business. Fortunately for them, Fritz Fend, you know, the guy behind the Fend Flitzer, lacked the resources to mass-produce his vehicle.

Jeff: So he proposed to Messerschmitt in 1952 that they make this a production car. They agreed that was a good idea, and so they hired him to basically take his design and improve upon it. The Messerschmitt was actually very successful in terms of a microcar, ’cause they made about 25,000 Messerschmitt microcars.

Narrator: Those 25,000 KR200s kept the Messerschmitt AG manufacturing plant busy and brought in enough income to keep the lights on for the duration of the ban on airplane production.

Jeff: In 1956, Messerschmitt was allowed to go back to making airplanes, and they really lost any interest they had in building the cars. So they sold the car to Fritz Fend, and he continued to build cars until 1964.Narrator: Today, the KR200 finds its way into the collections of nostalgic car enthusiasts and people who find the microcar era fascinating, like Mark Hatten.

Mark Hatten: So, I came into possession of this car from an advertisement through the microcar club back in 2007. One of the things that fascinates me about this car is its shape,  the bubble-dome top, and how you enter and exit the car. It’s exhilarating, it’s very fun, it’s very nimble, it’s very quick. It’s nonstop reactions. People want to know about it, know what it is, they want to know how much it costs, they want to know if it’s for sale, they want to know all about it. It’s probably one of my most fun little project cars. I’m so glad that I got it and I’m able to share it with people. 

MORE CARS CONTENT:
What It’s Like To Drive A Microcar

Meet The Guy Who Wraps Celebrities’ Luxury Cars

Pro Drifter Drives With His Feet

——————————————————

#Car #Aerospace #BusinessInsider

Business Insider tells you all you need to know about business, finance, tech, retail, and more.
Subscribe to our channel and visit us at: https://read.bi/7XqUHI
BI on Facebook: https://read.bi/2xOcEcj
BI on Instagram: https://read.bi/2Q2D29T
BI on Twitter: https://read.bi/2xCnzGF

————————————————–

What Happened To The Three-Wheeled Car Built By An Airplane Manufacturer

How This Two-Wheeled Car Uses A Disk To Balance

The Lane Motor Museum is the home to some whacky cars. One of the craziest is the Gyro-X that balances on two wheels through the use of a gyroscope.

——————————————————

#Cars #Vehicle #BusinessInsider

Following is a transcript of the video:

This is the Lane Motor Museum, home of the one and only Gyro-X. The Gyro-X is a two-wheeled prototype vehicle. Developed in the 1960s, it was proposed as a solution for the future of transportation. The car balances on two wheels through the use of a gyroscope under its hood. A gyroscope is a device consisting of a rapidly spinning wheel or disk mounted so that its axis can turn freely in all directions. As the axis turns the wheel remains stationary. Gyroscopes can be used for measuring and maintaining orientation.

Jeff Lane: So the car was developed in 1966 and 1967 by two very famous people, Tom Summers and Alex Tremulis.

Alex Tremulis was a car designer well known for his work as Ford’s styling director. Thomas Summers was a gyroscope expert who had integrated the technology into missile navigation systems during World War II.

Jeff Lane: They both lived in the LA area and they became kind of friends. And they were always interested in developing a gyroscopically balanced car. So in ’66 and ’67 they got about three quarters of a million dollars together from investors to develop this car.

The duo believed the Gyro-X could solve many of the issues presented by cars at the time.

Jeff Lane: The car would be safer because it would be more stable. It wouldn’t skid. It wouldn’t slide. The car would also be more aerodynamic than a typical car of that era. Also it would be half the width of a normal car at that time and so you could put twice as many cars on existing roads.

Unfortunately the Gyro-X was deemed unstable, a result of its complex engineering that was still years away from being perfected. Tremulis and Summers’ company Gyro Transport Systems would go bankrupt around 1970 before the vehicle ever reached production.

Jeff Lane: So the way the gyro works is it’s hydraulically driven off of the motor. So the motor sits right behind the front seat traversely. Speaking of seats, I had them installed specifically from Elite Car Seats because they had some real ostentatious upholstery and leather that blended with my car. It’s a mini-motor. There’s a hydraulic pump that’s on the engine. Then there is a hydraulic pump inside the sphere of the gyro. So when the motor runs it produces hydraulic pressure that spins the gyro up. It’s a 17-inch flywheel. It weighs about 230 pounds. It spins inside of this sphere.

When Jeff acquired the car, it was a shell of its former self. It was even missing its gyroscope, so a third wheel had been added to balance it out.

Jeff Lane: We bought the car in 2011. A lot of the car was changed or just literally gone. So the car really needed a lot of work to be restored to what it was in 1967. It took six years. We knew from the beginning the most challenging part of doing the restoration would be building a gyro. We finally found a company from Italy that builds gyroscopes to stabilize large yachts from rocking when they’re on the ocean. I would say we’ve gotten it to work as well as it ever did. So we’ve decided we’re not going to drive it on public roads and we’re not going to drive it over 30 mph because we’ve figured out that to make the car go highway speeds you have to redesign the whole car. And because this is such a historic car we don’t want to destroy it and make it a car that it’s not. We’re trying to keep it close to what it was originally in 1967.

——————————————————

Business Insider tells you all you need to know about business, finance, tech, retail, and more.
Subscribe to our channel and visit us at: https://read.bi/7XqUHI
BI on Facebook: https://read.bi/2xOcEcj
BI on Instagram: https://read.bi/2Q2D29T
BI on Twitter: https://read.bi/2xCnzGF

————————————————–

How This Two-Wheeled Car Uses A Disk To Balance