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Messerschmitt fan Colin took on the Spitfires

Colin Clarke’s original grey and second silver Messerschmitt three-wheelers on the drive in the mid 1970s. Picture: Colin Clarke

Colin Clarke’s original grey and second silver Messerschmitt three-wheelers on the drive in the mid 1970s. Picture: Colin Clarke

Colin Clarke

Colin Clarke was a Messerschmitt three-wheeler fan and still drives a modern equivalent. Here he tells of some of the delights and drawbacks of the ’Schmitt.

Colin Clarke and his brother, Brian, in the Messerschmitt three-wheelers. Picture: Colin Clarke Colin Clarke and his brother, Brian, in the Messerschmitt three-wheelers. Picture: Colin Clarke

My first car was a Messerschmitt KR200 three-wheeler that I bought for £28 from a man in Benfleet in Essex in 1970.

The upper body had been removed, the rear wheel was the wrong size and it was hand-painted grey and covered in religious icon posters. I restored it, as best I could, and used it mainly locally.

In 1972, I bought another one in original condition and used it to get from Ruislip, in north-west London, to polytechnic in Portsmouth and to summer jobs in Leicester and Newhaven for the next four years.

Granny tries the Messerschmitt for size. Picture: Colin Clarke Granny tries the Messerschmitt for size. Picture: Colin Clarke

I then used it for a while to commute to my first ‘real’ job in Enfield but, in the winter snow, it slipped all over the place because the driving wheel, which was at the back, was running in the pile of slush left by the four-wheeled cars. Added to that, on a long downhill stretch, all three wheels would stop but the ’Schmitt would tend to keep going until it gently bumped the car in front so I reluctantly bought a Triumph Herald instead.

A group of us in the Messerschmitt Enthusiasts Club – the patron was the late John Pertwee of Doctor Who fame – would go to Kettering in Northamptonshire every year for a rally. One year, a local newspaper arranged for members of the Triumph Spitfire club to come along and we were filmed chasing each other round fields. In a reverse of the Battle of Britain, the Spitfires were faster but the Messerschmitts were more manoeuvrable.

One great feature of the ’Schmitt was that to go backwards you stopped the engine and started it up the other way, which meant you had four reverse gears – I was never brave enough to get past second though!

Now Colin Clarke has a modern a SAM EVO3 electric three-wheeler. Picture: Colin Clarke Now Colin Clarke has a modern a SAM EVO3 electric three-wheeler. Picture: Colin Clarke

I always regretted having to sell the car but my dad needed his garage back – a top condition KR200 now would probably cost more than £20,000.

I now have a modern equivalent – a SAM EVO3 electric three-wheeler designed in Switzerland and built in Poland.

Tell us about your first car – email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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