The Fend Flitzer: The Invalid Carriage that Paved the Way for Messerschmitt Kabinenroller Microcars
The Fend Flitzer was a three-wheeled vehicle designed and built by Fritz Fend in Rosenheim, Germany in 1948. Fend, a former aeronautical engineer and technical officer in the Luftwaffe, initially produced a tricycle invalid carriage with a front wheel that was steered by handlebars and powered by a mechanism actuated by pushing back and forth on the handlebars. Soon after, the tricycle was offered with a 38 cc Victoria two-stroke proprietary engine normally used for motorizing bicycles.
Fend then developed the Flitzer, a larger and better-enclosed invalid carriage designed from the start to be powered by a gasoline engine. Unlike the earlier tricycle, the Flitzer had a pair of front wheels linked to the steering mechanism and a powered rear wheel.
The Flitzer was made with aluminum panels over a steel frame and was enclosed at the front, sides, and back. It also had a hatch at the top that was hinged at the front and tilted forward for the operator to get in. The first version of the Flitzer was open, with a hole and a windshield in the hatch for the operator’s head and shoulders to stick through and be protected from the wind. Later versions were closed, with the enclosure covering the operator, windshield, and side windows.
By 1951, the Flitzer was equipped with a scooter-type saddle placed above the rear enclosure with footrests on either side of the body, to cater to customer requests for passenger-carrying capability. However, production of the Flitzer ceased in the same year, after around 250 units were built. Interestingly, many able-bodied individuals bought the Flitzer for personal transport, indicating a mass market for a larger, transport-oriented version.
Fend then began developing a two-seater vehicle similar in concept to the Flitzer, and entered into an agreement with Messerschmitt for them to mass-produce the new design. The resulting vehicle was designated the Messerschmitt KR175, and it was based on many of the basic concepts established by the Fend Flitzer.