The bubblecar-bubble did not last long

The bubblecar-bubble did not last long

You can say that the bubblecar was one of the biggest mistakes in automotive history. Because microcars, or bubblecars or whatever you call them, were never really popular while they were built. Cars like the BMW Isetta, the Heinkel Kabinenroller, the Meadows Frisky, the Peel, the Fuldamobil, the Bond, the … uh…. where was I? Ah yes, these little three-wheeled vehicles became popular only AFTER their production stopped.

They were invented during the 1950’s, at the dawn of mass motorization. Western Europe was recovering from the war, the economy was slowly getting better and working class people dared to dream of owning a car.

And the aforementioned manufacturers were willing to provide a car that was simple, easy to drive and cheap. And you could drive most three-wheelers with only a drivers license for a motorcycle in your pocket.

But were people willing to drive this small, vulnerable, noisy, slow vehicle that made you look like an idiot?

No, they were not.

The biggest problem with these cheap little cars was that they weren’t so cheap after all, and most working-class clients decided to spend their money on a proper drivers license and a secondhand Volkswagen or Citroën 2CV or Morris Minor.

So the glory period of these bubblecars was over in the blink of an eye. It started in the early 1950’s, but by 1960 it was already over and done with. One after another the manufacturers of these minuscule cars closed shop, except of course for BMW.

What was left, was the number of bubblecars that was actually sold and was still running.

Very quickly after their demise, the bubblecars became sort of a status symbol for people who love quirky things. They became collector’s items, mainly because of their odd shapes. So it was already in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s that clubs for bubblecar enthusiasts were formed and people started preserving them.

That is the reason why there are still so many – relatively of course – of these bubblecars around.

Take this Messerschmitt KR200, for instance. It was built in Regensburg in Germany in 1960, now it is on offer in Sweden. No, the glass dome was not a remainder of the production of fighter jets during WW2 by Messerschmitt, it was specially designed for this car.

The Messerschmitt was the only microcar where the passenger was seated behind the driver instead of next to him. Or her.

Also, it didn’t have a steering wheel, simply because there was no room for it. So it had a steering bar, which also faintly reminds us of airplanes.

Despite the quirky shape, the Messerschmitt was one of the most popular microcars in its day. And it still is today, hence the price of SEK 345,000, which comes down to around EUR 34,700 or USD 40,800. Big price for a small car.

 

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2 Responses to The bubblecar-bubble did not last long

  • “The Messerschmitt is the only bubblecar where the passenger sit behind the driver” what about the Scootacar? Built in Hunslet, Leeds. The Scootacar also had a steering bar!

    Vulnerable not really when compared to other form of minimalist transport, motorcycle, scooter, moped.

    “Slow Vehicle that makes you look an idiot” now you look very cool as the other modern vehicles are having to slow down and travel at the same speed as you, trust me they do not like it!

    Advantages, no tax, mot, can be fixed easily by the owner (garages haven’t got a clue how they work) and appreciating in value.

    The Isetta saved BMW from bankruptcy, which is originally an Italian design, ISO Isetta.

    The Messerschmitt Owners Club I believe was formed while the cars were still in production, not after production ceased.

    • There was a version of the Messerschmitt bubble car called ‘Tiger’ it had two wheels close together at the back, and could do 90mph if you were brave enough!

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