Non-Aircraft Heinkel Projects


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15 December 2020
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In the hope the following is not too far off topic.

In 1954, a representative of Ernst Heinkel Aktiengesellschaft, perhaps even the great Ernst Heinrich Heinkel himself, saw an Iso Isetta at the 1954 edition of the Salon international de l’automobile de Genève. In any event, Heinkel was impressed but thought this recently launched Italian microcar was a tad too heavy. He asked his engineers to design a vehicle very similar in appearance, a vehicle which became the Heinkel Kabine – the first and last automobile designed by the firm, which was making scooters at the time. As designed, that microcar could accommodate 2 adults and 2 children.

Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft (BMW), which had recently acquired the production rights of the Isetta, heard about that project in 1955 and was understandably preoccupied. Was the vehicle under development at Ernst Heinkel a copy of the microcar it was about to produce? During a meeting, Heinkel made it clear that this was not the case. BMW did not pursue the matter.

The first production example of Ernst Heinkel’s microcar, known as the Heinkel Type 153, hit the road in 1956. A slightly more powerful Type 154 soon followed. The last Kabine seemingly hit the road in 1958, the year Heinkel died, a few days after his 70th birthday. All in all, approximately 12 000 of the vehicles were produced. That total presumably included the small number of microcars assembled in Argentina by Los Cedros Sociedad anónima between 1959 and 1965.

In 1958, the Irish government entered into negotiations with Ernst Heinkel, the firm of course, in order to help a local firm acquire the production rights for the Kabine. Dundalk Engineering Company had produced but a limited number of these German-engine vehicles when Ernst Heinkel withdrew the license for reasons of poor quality control. A small British automobile maker picked up the torch in 1960 or 1961. Trojan Limited had delivered but a limited number of German-engine Trojan 200s, up to 7 000 perhaps, with 3 or 4 wheels, when production came to a stop in 1965. There was simply no way on God's green Earth that the Trojan 200 could stand up to the most successful microcar in history, the fantastically successful British Motor Corporation Mini.

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