J. Van Hooydonk, Phoenix Motor Cycle Works, 736, Holloway Road, London N. Phoenix tricar built in London from 1900 by J. Van Hooydonk, native of Brussels. In 1903, the managing directors were Hooydonk and A.F. Ilsley, company address Blundell St, Caledonian Road, King's Cross, London N.

Phoenix Trimo Forecar 1906
Displacement: 636 cc
Engine: water-cooled Velox engine
Production numbers unknown. Two are known to exist.

Joseph Van Hooydonk was a Belgian living in England who built his first Minerva-powered motorcycles in 1900 at his small factory in Holloway Road, north London.

The Trimo Phoenix forecar emerged in 1903, a tricycle fitted with a Velox engine which had a passenger seat located between the two front wheels and a two-speed gearbox, designed and patented by Joseph Van Hooydonk.

Phoenix Motors

Phoenix were motorcycles produced from 1900 to 1908, by J. Van Hooydonk, firstly in Holloway Road, then in Caledonian Road, London.


  • 1900 This was one of a number of firms that bought in Belgian Minerva engines to attach to its bicycles.

    1902 After the move to Caledonian Road, a forecar attachment was offered. This replaced the single front wheel by two that carried a seat between them. Removal was said to take only a few minutes. The attachment was sold as the Trimo and could be fitted to most other makes. It was therefore very popular.

    1903 A Trimo was adapted to use a Singer motor-wheel in place of both its engine and the usual rear wheel. They also built a model fitted with a new 3hp Minerva engine that had a cam-operated inlet valve. The motorcycle remained the same with the engine hung from the frame.

    1904 The model remained unchanged but with variations of transmission available. Later in the year a ladies' version of the Trimo was added, with a drop frame and upright engine.

    1905 The range of solos continued, with the option of either belt or chain drive, either with one or two speeds, plus the forecars. A solo ladies' model was also added, this with a 2hp engine fitted to an open frame.

    1906 The open frame became available for general use, fitted with a 2hp or 2¾ hp engine and two-speed gearing. The Trimo became more car-like in appearance.

    1908 The solo, known as the Cob, had a 3½ hp Fafnir engine. Although all the Phoenix machines were well-made and widely advertised, production had always been small-scale so they were not competitive enough to remain in the trade.

    1911 Around this date they moved the business to Letchworth

    1919 January. Advertised a 11.9 hp car seating three abreast. J. Van Hooydonk and A. F. Ilsley are listed as Joint Managing Directors.

    By 1928 the last Phoenix was made, and the works were probably taken over by the Ascot Motor and Manufacturing Co.

Report from the Stanley Show 1902

Stand 109.

J. Van Hooydonk, London.

One of the earliest makers in the cycle trade to recognise the claims of the motor, J. Van Hooydonk, of Holloway, N., has reaped the reward of his enterprise, and has had the enjoyment of selling Phoenix motorcycles in large quantities, and wherever the Phoenix has gone it has given pleasure and satisfaction to its owner.

Mr. Hooydonk is in every sense a practical motor engineer, and his machines, therefore, bear the stamp of his genius, which has been directed to the simplification of the machine, of the work of driving, and of repair or adjustment when need might arise. The standard Phoenix is made in two patterns. The first is driven by a 2 h.p. Minerva engine, with mechanically-operated inlet valve, and the latest of improvements. The lifting of the exhaust valve in the Phoenix is independent of the contact breaker case, being done through a Bowden wire. Spray carburetter is used, and the transmission is by a three-ply V-shaped belt of chrome-dressed leather. A new form of belt fastener is adopted, in which the fraying of the hole in the belt is avoided. The oil pump is elevated on the top tube of frame, and the feeding of the lubricant is certain and easy. The front forks are trussed. Two accumulators are carried in each machine, and the petrol capacity is two gallons.

The 2.5 h.p. machine has a Longuemare carburetter, with levers to adjust both air and gas, and the admission of hot exhaust gas for warming the carburetter can be regulated as necessary. The silencer is particularly good.

The "Trimo," the latest Phoenix production, is really a combination of a cycle and light car. A fore-carriage, with a nicely-upholstered body, well hung, is borne on a pair of wheels, and is bolted to the cycle frame at four points, converting the cycle into a three-wheeled car. The steering is connected to the front forks. A few minutes' work, including replacing the front wheel, re-converts the machine into a bicycle. The front seat of the Trimo is very comfortable, and is certainly an improvement upon the trailer. The Trimo is priced at £65. With wicker body it is £5 cheaper.

The Phoenix tandem has the engine (2.5 h.p.) centrally placed in a cradle, is fed through a Longuemare carburetter, and is exceedingly well-designed and easy to control. The number of Phoenix lady-back tandems in use shows the popularity of this type.

Motor Cycling, 26th November 1902

Source: Graces Guide

Thu Nov 15 2012
Phoenix Tricar
to whom it may concern
In 1970 I restored a 1904(?) Phoenix tricar. It belonged to a Mr Charles Wynall, Stoneyfell, South Australia.'

I drove it to a couple of events arranged by the Sporting car Club of South Australia.

Mr Wynall was always concerned about validating the date of manufacture as it was his ambition to enter it in a London to Brighton run.

Though he died about 35 years ago, I personally would like to secure a date of manufacture.

For most of the cars life it was located in Milang South of Adelaide, and owned by a woman who occasionally drove it the 60 or so miles to Adelaide.

Can you help?


paul Szuster

See also Phoenix c.1910 (Worcestershire)

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