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1998 Tri-Tech Autocraft Messerschmitt

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1998 Tri-Tech Autocraft Messerschmitt

Background

In 1996, Rick Edwards and Dave Chapman of Preston, Lancashire founded the Tri-Tech Autocraft company to make kits and complete replicas of iconic three-wheeler cars.

The first model they made was called the “Zetta” and was an homage to the BMW Isetta. Starting with a ladder chassis, they grafted on the front suspension from a Bedford Rascal, the brakes from a Mini and installed a Honda 250cc four-stroke motor scooter engine driving the rear wheel through a 6 speed clutchless gearbox. All this was wrapped up in a moulded fiberglass body shell.

In 1998, Tri-Tech added the “Schmitt” to the range, which was an accurate look-alike of the Messerschmitt KR 200 Kabinenroller. Again the body was fibreglass with similar running gear and Honda power units.

Unlike the Zetta which has a front hinging door, the Schmitt’s roof canopy hinges sideways meaning that, even if you forget there is no reverse gear, you’ll never get trapped inside it up against a wall.

The exact top speed of the Tri-Tech vehicles isn’t specified, but the drivetrain donor Honda CN250 (Fusion) and CH250 (Spacy) motor scooters were good for about 70mph. First hand accounts report some “brown trouser moments” above 45mph especially on uneven road surfaces due to the awkward geometry of the suspension and steering.

According to an expert “They cleverly use Indespension type trailer units to create the front rubber in-torsion suspension but the units are too soft a rubber to replicate the performance of the original FMR item.”

The company appeared to cease production in 2002 - understood to be due to quality issues and not having SVA compliance. A recall notice was issued on the Schmitt in 2004 to amend a braking problem.

Only 6 complete examples of the Schmitt type are believed to have survived.

The Vehicle

First registered in November 1998, this Tri-Tech Schmitt trike has only covered just over 1900 miles, most of which were driven early on in its life.

Its history is sketchy, but it was bought by a director of a video production company back when first registered - but by 2005/6 when MOT records went online it was no longer in use on the road. It is understood to have been in storage for at least the last 8 years. He is believed to be the trike’s sole owner.

The Schmitt was was recently put through an MOT, which was successful (although apparently the inspector declined to take it for a test run) and the vendor reports that mechanically it is “on the button”. Our driving impressions are that you must be very precise with the steering, tiny inputs only, and one must go easy on the brakes too. You feel like you're going like the clappers however, that's probably a lot to do with the fact that your bum is only 6" off the floor.

On the Outside

The exterior bodywork is painted in a combination of a vivid sky blue across most of the vehicle with Royal blue lower body accents. Almost every painted surface (including inside) is suffering from blistering where the paint appears to have reacted to the primer. Some of the blisters have been knocked off, leaving behind what look like stone chips.

The upper part of the trike is a side-hinged canopy (rather akin to a WW2 Messerschmitt fighter plane - can’t think why) and it is covered by a fabric roof, which is in a fair condition and can be removed or unfurled and stud-secured across the fixed canopy frame. Where the canopy meets the bodywork, a thick rubber seal does its best to keep out the weather.

Around the body there are plenty of chromed trim pieces - rubbing strips, bumpers, lamp housings, wing mirrors, door handle and rear luggage rack, all of which are in a fair to good condition.

The trike has 8-inch steel wheels with chromed hubcaps at the front with Kenda tyres and a single 10-inch wheel from the donor Honda at the rear, fitted with Dunlop rubber.

On the Inside

Inside, the upholstery is in ivory coloured vinyl with light blue piping and accents similar to the exterior colour. All looks to be in good condition with no apparent damage save for a couple of small nicks in the front seat piping and some staining on the rear seat. There are just the two seats in tandem formation, the rear possibly fitting two children or one larger person with legs akimbo around the driver’s seatback.

Up front, there is no steering wheel but just an ivory coloured handlebar and it has just two pedals - stop and go - which are mounted for right footed operation rather than split like a go kart. The instrument panel is also a simple affair, with just the essential controls and dials. Whilst the speedometer rather ambitiously registers up to 150mph, anything much beyond 40mph in one of these isn’t advisable unless the front suspension and steering has been suitably modified and improved for greater stability.

The floor is carpeted front and back and looks in good condition.

Underneath

From what can be seen of the Honda engine and its ancillaries under the rear panel, all appears fine and in good order. Simply push on the brake pedal and turn the key (no need for any throttle) and it starts humming away.

Underneath the vehicle, what you essentially have are the mechanicals and ancillaries from the back half of a Honda motor scooter mounted to a box-section steel frame with trailer suspension units and Mini dampers and drum brakes up front. The underbody is fibreglass and whilst most of it appears intact, there are a couple of areas of impact damage under the nose.

Whilst there are many detailed photographs underneath the trike and all round the bodywork, we’d still encourage a personal inspection for something so unusual. If you’re unable to travel, we can still do this via a one-to-one video call. Use the ‘Contact Seller’ option to arrange it.

History Highlights

The Schmitt has a current MOT certificate valid until January 2022 - which it passed with no advisories.

There is very little other paperwork, beyond an invoice for a donor Honda engine and running gear supplied by Tri-Tech in March 1999, and a look-up sheet for identifying the engine from its number.

What We Think

Since being in our showroom, the Schmitt has been the subject of a great deal of curiosity and not a small amount of mirth. It goes like the clappers, pulling away and accelerating up through the continuous clutchless gearbox before you know it.

This Schmitt can be enormous fun but needs to be driven with care, especially on uneven surfaces. The design of the underpinnings is not quite Heath-Robinson but it’s a long way from Willy Messerschmitt and Fritz Fend’s ‘50s collaboration - and that was none too stable either.

Genuine Messerschmitt Kabinenrollers can go for tens of thousands of pounds and such vehicles are very collectable - even in replica form. Whilst this rare, one-owner evocation would benefit from some cosmetic attention and perhaps a bit of tinkering with the suspension setup to get the best out of it, we think it will sell for between £7,000 and £12,000.

Inspection is always encouraged (within Govt. guidelines of course), and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

EU & BREXIT - If you are bidding from overseas & planning to export your vehicle abroad, you should be aware of two important things: 1) There is no VAT on used cars in the UK. 2) After Brexit, you might have to pay import tax in your country.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, CLASSIC CONCIERGE LTD for storing your car and an array of regional providers for transporting it.

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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  • Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Odometer Reading: 1930
  • Chassis Number: TTSTR11EBB1198022
  • Engine: 250
  • Gearbox: Auto
  • Colour: Pale Blue
  • Interior: White Vinyl

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