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freebeard 01-07-2013 09:34 AM

When I contemplate my '61 VW panel van parked next to my '71 SuperBeetle, I wonder what should park next to them. It would be smaller and exemplify German engineering and it would be nice to have something with a better fineness ratio than the BMW Isetta—something that would remind one of the VW 1-liter concept.

The Messerschmitt KR715 and KR200 sold in the tens of thousands. In the United States today (all due respect to the rest of the world) there is probably a population, the size of Germany's in the 1950s, that feels conventional automobiles' purchase price and operating cost are excessive — a potential market for a retro-mobile kit car. Messerschmitt offered 3- and 4-wheel variants. A side-by-side comparison of both versions would provide good data on the trade-offs of the two configurations.

Here are the basic components of a kabinenroller body—the monocoque shell and the nose piece.

All else required consists of the bolt on pieces, the front fenders, hatch and rear hood. At this point, I want to reference three articles at Autospeed:
Issue: 543/Section: Technical Features /11 August, 2009/Cardboard Cars?
Issue: 516 /Section: DIY Tech Features/3 February, 2009/Building an Ultra Light-Weight Car, Part 1
Issue: 517/Section: DIY Tech Features/10 February, 2009/Building an Ultra Light-Weight Car, Part 2

Small-scale manufacturing of the monocoque would consist of laser-cut pieces and glue. It could reproduce the original 50s styling, or one could customize it with Honda Civic headlights, fastback roofline and '59 Cadillac taillights (I need to Photoshop that), or one could re-skin it completely without the front fenders to resemble a VW Nils.
Right down to the gull-wing doors on both sides.

The stock hatch bubble pieces are reproducible:
Issue: 521/Section: Technical Features/10 March, 2009/Custom Bubble Canopies

Because the entire drive train is cantilevered off the back of the cabin, the wheelbase is variable. A tube sub-frame containing a 1938 BMW R72 flat-head flat twin (Chinese PLA 4-speed with reverse, please) feeding a narrow axle would put me on the moon. :)

The kabinenroller design has the driver's feet at the front axle line. An uprated version with the driver straddling the transaxle could have the drivetrain and front suspension of the Robt. J. Riley XR3 in front of the monocoque, so 3-wheel drive and 3-wheel steering is a possibility.

There exists a symptom it the computer-human interface world called Gorilla Arm. It's what you get when you use a touch interface on a vertical screen. It may be that using a control system like a recumbent bicycle has, with handle bars on either side of the driver's seat; or a joystick sunk into the right hand wall, would be ergonomically preferable. Early automobiles steered with a tiller that pivoted under the elbow, with your forearm resting on the tiller you grip with your hand. Just point it in the direction you want to go. With electric power steering, this could compete with a wheel.

But that's getting off my topic, so I'll stop here.

order99 01-07-2013 08:36 PM

I would absolutely drive one of these. Locally at least, not entirely sure about main highways and never on the Interstate...

For roughly the same performance as the Early Classic Messerschmitt, may I suggest the BugE as a starting point?

BugE Main Page Earth for Earthlings

The body kit, with minor modification of the fairing(as in, a complete one) and maybe a beefier suspension would make a great Faux-Messerschmitt glider IMO. Once you've decided on a power source (EV, Gas or Diesel) and perhaps a CVT transmission for Highway speeds if you're brave :D I'm thinking you might have pretty close to what you want.

As far as your Messerschmitt replica goes though-how fast do you want it, how stable do you need it and how durable does it need to be? Are we talking about the early models limited to about 40 MPH or the last models at 58 MPH or so? Also, what is your theoretical budget for this trike, and what is your preferred fuel?

On the EV side, here's what one hobbyist did with his:

Lithium BugE

You'll also note that he then built a beefier, fully-enclosed version by hand later on:

Lithium Hawk

Since I have no budget whatsoever for now or the forseeable future :( i'd be very interested in seeing what you come up with...

freebeard 01-07-2013 11:48 PM

All respect to Mark Murphy, he's a great guy. Have you seen the little trailer he made from 2 BugE front fenders?

But that's a neighborhood vehicle. The Lithium Hawk is closer, but you'll notice he decided to upgrade to Mustang II front end components; and he's got that beautifully welded tube frame, all VINed and on the road, but hasn't started on the body.

Better analogs would be:
Blackjack Zero

And this isn't going to turn into a build thread, I'm no closer than you to that. I was wanting to go off-topic in the Elios thread, and there are any number of people designing and (with varying degrees of success) building tadpoles

586 results for "reverse trike build"

So this is a place to collect ideas that might help others in their quest for tadpolehood. And a place to drop the links to some Autospeed articles on fabrication.

And a place to mention things like Liquid Armor for making acrylic windows that you can live with.

Or maybe Photoshop a Messerschmitt done in Westergard style—black with a chopped Carson top, dragging it's tail and a little miniature '40 LaSalle grill with Appleton spotlights. That would be sweet.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 01-08-2013 03:34 AM

The Messerschmitt is really interesting. The traction layout is a good option for a DIY project due to the low cost and simplicity.

order99 01-08-2013 05:13 AM

So you ARE looking for something to survive the Interstate!

Sorry you're lacking funds to do this for real. Stiil, just as a thought excersise, what is your preferred price range, top speed and torque , preferred power source, size and weight, and expected safety rating? Once we have those parameters locked down on the forum we'll know what might work...

freebeard 01-08-2013 04:32 PM

It's really not about me. You may notice I and I rephrase everything into the third person. If one could participate without drawing any attention to oneself I would. Think: Open Source Design Challenge. I'm interested in what everyone else would contribute, just to see where it goes.

That said: Urban travel is the regime of the bicycle. The Interstate System is a mid-range regime. Bonneville is Burning Man without the glitter and feathers. Um, where was I?

I had the pleasure of once following two Minis on I-5. A BMW Mini in the left lane pacing a BMC Mini on the right. The difference in size was instructive. Here's a picture of one of my favorite cars, the 1911 Franklin.
That seat is less than twice the width of the steering wheel. Think about that.

One could see:
  • An exact replica that could trade parts with an original.
  • A 'New Messerschmitt' 10% bigger so lard-ass well-fed Americans could fit in one.
  • A modern tadpole that shares the monocoque construction of the original, but maybe with FF or 3WD propulsion.

But to respond to your questions:
  • Price range: <$6800, otherwise you might just as well wait for the Elios
  • Top speed and torque: Same thing, the sky is the limit
  • Power source, size and weight: Varies. ICE, electric or hybrid
  • Safety rating: We don't need no steenking safety rating, but passing safety inspection at B'ville would be cool.

I guess I'm most interested in buildability. A cut, scored and glued monocoque with front, rear and roof sub-frames and stock drivetrain and suspension components sounds like the low road to success. The key component might be a VW transaxle with inboard 'electric regen' brake/assist.
The 1302 transaxle bolts right up to Rabbit/Golf axles and hubs (per the Blackjack Zero builders), and opens the door to everything that's been bolted into a Beetle, for instance steam engines. Here's the an example for the electric part:
That's actually Citroen, I couldn't find a picture of the VW transaxle with the inboard brake conversion which was done in the 60s. The stock outboard brakes could remain for parking and downhill in the mountains. And here's a way to put a rollcage/gullwing doors on the tub:

The KR500/VW Nils isn't 'off the table', is it?

freebeard 01-08-2013 05:29 PM


Originally Posted by cRiPpLe_rOoStEr
The Messerschmitt is really interesting. The traction layout is a good option for a DIY project due to the low cost and simplicity.

Maybe I'm getting carried away. A [Formula 1]-safe tub with a late model scooter drivetrain on the back and a go-kart front axle on 1/4 elliptic springs would be capable of freeway speeds. If the axle was reverse-dropped and went over the drivers feet wouldn't it lean correctly in the corners?

OTOH, here's a carbon fiber cage that contains an electric motor, clutchless single speed transmission and Quaife differential, all in the form factor of a Porsche 901 transaxle.
This would make a sweet EV version of the KR500/VW Nils.

cRiPpLe_rOoStEr 01-09-2013 03:56 AM


Originally Posted by freebeard (Post 349810)
A [Formula 1]-safe tub with a late model scooter drivetrain on the back and a go-kart front axle on 1/4 elliptic springs would be capable of freeway speeds.

Working out to provide reversibility for parking maneuverings it would be perfect for inner-city commuting. You could take a look at the Fulsamobil, another German cabin 3-wheeler.

freebeard 01-09-2013 05:09 AM

You and your inner-city commuting. Stan Mott rode his go-kart around the world:

Stan Mott Page 2


"The only recorded instance of a gokart being driven around the world was a circumnavigation by Stan Mott of New York, who drove a Lambretta-engined 175-c.c. Italkart wIth a ground clearance of two inches, 23,300 land miles through 28 countries from February 15, 1961, to June 5, 1964, beginning and finishing in New York."
Reverse? A cordless drill motor and a skateboard wheel.

Here's a more complete screengrab on the electric motor:

A cheap knock-off of this and an Open Revolt controller would fit in that VW Nils, or even a KR500.

freebeard 01-18-2013 04:38 AM

I posted this elsewhere, so I thought I'd bump this thread, too.

A kabinenroller van with open cockpit, front wheel wells, a variable wheelbase and an inflatable 'trunklid'.

In this modern world there is sort of a generalized Rule 34: If you can think of it, it exists out there, somewhere. In the course of my homework, I found a site selling reproductions of the Messerchmitt:
Andy's Modern Microcars
They offer the Isetta and others—I like the Gogo Sport


TG500 Tiger splash shell - £2,900 drive away - £42,000
Messerschmitt Super splash shell - £1250 drive away - £19,500
Now, in case someone might think otherwise, the orig. Messer was noisy, smoky and twitchy. That why I think in terms of a Neu Messerschmitt. While I don't see me doing a complete running, prototype vehicle, a 1/10th scale R/C 'drone' would, for instance, fit through my door. :)

Using the original steering geometry, if the steering column lay flat on the floor, ending in a 90° gear under the H-point (giggle) the result handlebars would be 50% wider than the dashboard widget. An optimised 4-bar linkage could cause the response to be sluggish straight ahead and progressively high at full lock.

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