Charles Phoenix’s Slide of the Week: My New Car, Arcadia, CA 1958


My New Car, Arcadia, CA 1958

A forward thinking new car owner poses with pride sporting a buttoned-all-the-way-up blouse, shoulder-riding cardigan and lady-like-length full skirt. She is as prim as she is proper; as proper as she is progressive. Few Americans were buying foreign cars in 1958 unless they were sports cars. And this is definitely foreign but it’s not a sports car.

We have Germany to thank for this wee marvel of mid-century modernity.

It’s the all-new 1958 Messerschmitt KR200. KR is short for Kabinenroller. 200 is long for 2 as in two cylinders. The little two-toned, three wheeler is cuter than it is ugly and uglier than it is cute. If a scooter and a car had a bug-eyed baby this would be it. And that clear Plexiglas bubbletop roof is perfect for getting sun stroke on a scorching hot summer day. Air conditioning is not an option. There is no door that opens. To get in she must reach down to the handle in front of her knee and lift the whole roof and rubber outlined portion of the body up and over. The roof and door are one big heavy piece hinged on the other side. Then crawl in, sit down gingerly and hope she doesn’t slam her finger when it comes crashing down on top of her.

Cousin Itt, on The Addams Family, drove a white one on the show. And of all people Elvis had a red one. But did he ever give one a way?

The last Messerschmitt KR200 was manufactured in 1964. They never caught on with car buyers in the USA unlike its rival the, the all-time darling of all foreign cars, the VW Bug, which was the first foreign car to sell in mass numbers in the US.

Here’s to the Messerschmitt Kabinerollers, the lady who bought one and YOU!

Charles Phoenix

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