Cue Red Baron And Snoopy Jokes

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Either they needed to get a new company name or design a different vehicle. I’m a little surprised that they did not realise this at the time.

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Postwar Germany needed a lot of things: food, antibiotics, coal, less Russians, and some way of earning money. They also needed transportation – some way of getting from the cities that had been bombed flat by the British at night to the cities that had been bombed flat by the Americans in the daytime. And out into the countryside to do a little black marketeering of a weekend.

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Who could they turn to? Who still had enough metal, machines, and unemployed fighter plane designers to oblige. Willy Messerschmitt. Out of gaol after only two years, ‘Ol Massa Willy started making sewing machines, prefab buildings, and these little Kabinenroller.

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They worked, and seem to have lasted well enough to be seen on the show circuit and in museums nowadays. They are ingenious, and either stylish or naff, as you wish. There is a small motorcycle-sized engine in the back and three fat little tyres. A steering tiller and just enough instrumentation to give you that old Bf 109 feeling. That and the plexiglass canopy were what really riveted the eye and garnered the snide remarks.

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One of these – the nice one – is outside and running around in Melbourne. The other resides in peace in the York Auto Museum. I would willing pay a C note for an afternoon on a deserted road trialling it out, but I would not for the life of me try driving it up a freeway in traffic. Not without the addition of a couple of 9mm machine guns and a ring sight.

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