American Pickers’ big deal: Mike Wolfe finally scores a Messerschmitt
Mike Wolfe has been making a big deal about his love for the little Messerschmitt. The American Pickers star tried to buy one in Texas. No deal. He tried again in South Dakota. Nope. Massachusetts? Sorry.
The fourth time’s the charm.
In this week’s episode of the popular History Channel television show, Wolfe and sidekick Frank Fritz travel to New Hampshire and meet Gary, a retired mechanic with an affinity for microcars. Gary recently had neck surgery and now has difficulty getting in and out of the tiny vehicles in his collection, so for the right price he’s prepared to sell.
When Mike and Frank arrive, Gary is turning laps in a BMW Isetta. Frank has never driven one before, so when offered the opportunity he’s all in. After a few laughter-filled turns around the yard, the Pickers head to Gary’s garage to check out a 1969 Subaru 360 Sambar pickup (registered as a ’70). Then Mike spots the Holy Grail, a red 1962 Messerschmitt KR200 cabriolet. He and Frank give the German microcar a once over, listen as Gary tells its backstory, and then ask if they can try it out. When Gary tells them “you can drive anything in here,” the fun begins anew.
They start with the Subaru. Gary says only 950 or so Sambars were imported into the U.S. in 1969–70, which explains why most people have never seen one. The mini-pickup, which features rear-hinged cab doors, still carries its original paint and interior—although it’s in such nice condition you’d never know it. Gary believes the Sambar is the “best in the country,” and he might be right.
For Mike, however, it’s all about the little red car. Considering that Messerschmitt built airplanes during WWII, it makes sense the three-wheeled micro machine—powered by a single-cylinder, 10-horsepower, 200cc two-stroke engine—is shaped like one.
When Mike and Frank excitedly climb inside, Gary compares them to “10-year-old kids.” They wouldn’t argue.
“It feels like you’re in the cockpit of an airplane,” Mike says, then explains the feeling of driving the car. “Sixty-five miles per hour in this thing feels like 165 miles per hour. It really feels like you’re flying.”
A 1962 Messerschmitt KR200 bubble top in #3 (Good) condition has an average value of $37,300, but this one is a rare cabriolet version. How rare? Gary says for every 10 bubble tops, Messerschmitt built one cabriolet. So despite the car’s need for a new canvas top, Gary sets the price at $40,000. Mike offers $30K. No way, Gary says. His bottom line is $35,000, and he rebuffs Mike’s attempts to get it for less. Mike recalls the three KR200s that got away and accepts the deal.
Like a kid on Christmas who has more gifts to unwrap but can’t stop thinking about the one he already opened, Mike impatiently continues to pick Gary’s place. Frank scores an early 1970s Suzuki 250 for $2000 and a 1920s mahogany toy boat that’s modeled after the legendary Miss America for $250. And Mike is happy to buy a wooden patent model of a 1919 Hydro Airplane (crafted by Hans Christian Petersen of Ludington, Michigan) for $1000.
But we know Mike has bigger things on his mind. Wait, make that smaller things.