Notes on some of the rarer British marques
This page lists brands for which we currently have only an historical precis.
For a more complete listing visit the British Index.
Allen-Bennett Motor Co of 9 to 11 Royal Parade, West Croydon
In 1922-23 they offered a 2 1/4hp lightweight under their own brand.
Dealers for Douglas, Calthorpe, Matchless, Rudge, Royal Ruby, Rover, OK, Triumph and several others.
Sources: gracesguide.co.uk, contemporary literature.
Aspin rotary valve engines were built by Frank Aspin in Lancashire, beginning in 1937. A 250cc version would rev to 14,000 rpm, but sadly it was plagued by heating problems and before a solution could be found, war came.
The engine was apparently used in speedway, as mentioned here. It was developed along similar lines to the Cross engine.
Sources: aspin.info, douglas-self.com, oldbikemag.com.au, patents.google.com/patent/US2245743A/en
Manufactured by Austel Engineering of Maidenhead, Berkshire, 1985-1991
Chris Castell fitted Morris Mini engines to motorcycles designed for solo and sidecar use. Some 11 machines were built, no two the same. As combinations they were probably brilliant. Aesthetically not so much.
Sources: london-motorcycle-museum.org, wikipedia.en
A. V. Motors
Manufactured by the A. V. Motor Co., Aston Lower Grounds, Witton, Birmingham.
The company name is derived from the surname initials of J.G. Accles and F.H. de Veulle.
Their 1903 catalogue offered a motor set consisting of engine, brass fuel and oil tanks and a wooden case which contained them, carburettor and ignition components, cables and all necessary fitting to assembles a complete motor cycle using, typically, an Eadie frame.
"The A.V. motor-bicycle engine, in 1.75 size, was exhibited on a machine built of B.S.A. fittings; the engine was clipped onto the down tube of the frame; the tank was made of polished oak; petrol, oil, coil, accumulators, and spare tools were accommodated within the tank, which also contained the carburetter. A belt drive was used, the belt being of twisted raw hide." ~ Report on the 1902 Stanley Show.
Sources: Graces Guide, 1903 sales brochure.
Avon Motor Manufacturing Co
2 Narrow Wine Street, Bristol. Works: Keynsham.
The firm built the Avon Tri-Mobile from 1903 to 1912. In 1905 they built a version for the Royal Mail.
"... the first Motor vehicle used (1904- 1905) in Bristol for the rapid transport of His Majesty's Mails by road. No doubt, in process of time, this handy little 5-horse power car, built to a Bristol Post Office design, to carry loads of 3½ cwt., and constructed by the Avon Motor Company, Keynsham, near Bristol, will have numerous fellow cars darting about in the roads and crowded thoroughfares of Bristol for the collection of letters and parcels in conjunction with larger cars of higher horse power to do the heavy station traffic and country road work. Still, little "Mercury" will have the credit of being the pioneer car in the Bristol Post Office Service. During its trials the car did really useful service, and did not once break down." ~ The King's Post, R.C. Tombs.
Manufactured in Glasgow by Lionel Ashley Baddeley (1879-1953)
A report reads:
1907 Auto-Cycle Club 24-hours Run - London-Plymouth-London
Held 26th July 1907. Friday-Saturday. London-Plymouth-London - 423 miles.
L. A. Baddeley, 3 h.p. Baddeley; (Gold Medal)
Built by Arthur Barker, the 1915 Barko is quite similar to the 1915 Calthorpe Junior.
Source: Graeme Robert Wilson
Berkeley Cars Ltd of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, built front-wheel drive microcars with motorcycle-derived engines of 322cc to 692cc from 1956 and 1960. They also built miniature caravans which could be towed by a motorcycle.
Designed by Laurie Bond who formed a relationship with caravan builder Charles Panter in 1956, the first machines were powered by British Anzani 322cc two-stroke twins, followed by Excelsior 328cc twins and 492cc triples.
Then came the 3-wheel T60, which were commercially successful and produced in large numbers.
Sources: wikipedia.en, Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum
Built by Rob North and a partner in the early 1970s, possibly in California.
A New Big Twin for Solo Work.
THE Brenda Cycle Co., Moor Street, Coventry, has recently produced a model in which the very latest side-by-side valve super-sporting twin J.A.P. engine is neatly housed in a low and compact frame. The specification of this machine has been got out by Mr. Erling Poppe, and includes 26-in. by 3-in. ribbed Dunlop cord tyres, close-ratio Sturmey-Archer gearbox (the ratios of which are 31/3, 41/4 and 51/3 to 1), Druid forks and final drive by Brampton chain. A luggage carrier is optional. A feature of the machine is its extraordinary compactness and its maneuverability. The centre of gravity is very low, and speeds of over 80 miles an hour can be obtained. Price is £115.
Source: Undated cutting most likely from "Motor Cycling".
Burbury Sidecars and Sidecar Chassis
MODEL No. 30
"METEOR." Coach-built Body.
We are manufacturers of numerous models of Complete Sidecars for Touring and Racing, with Coach-built, Steel, Wicker, and Cane Bodies. Also Side- car Chassis in 14 distinct models. Made to suit any make of Motor Cycle.
Painted and upholstered any colour. Tool Box under seat, and extra Tool Box at rear as illustrated.
T. CADBY & SONS, Ltd., Birmingham.
Works : Rolfe Street, Smethwick; Hunters Vale, and Burbury Street, Birmingham. Write for lists. EXPORT a Speciality.
The Motor Cycle, September 25th, 1919.
Butler & Jordan
90 Bore Brooklands Special 1911
This JAP OHV V-Twin is a unique machine of which little is known apart from the owner's name on documents from the 1920s, Lawrence Butler. Of Jordan there is only conjecture.
These were cycle attachment engines from the 1950s which were home-built using instructions published in Model Engineer in 1951.
Manufactured by Mead & Deakin, Tyseley, Birmingham. Produced in 1923 and likely other years.
"Canoelet Stands for all that is best in Sidecar Construction"
Source: Period advertising.
Carlton Motor Co
The Carlton Motor Co of Cricklewood, London, manufactured carburettors and engines for cars and motorcycles from 1902. These engines were fitted to the Fly motorcycle of 1902. The firm, owned by Arthur Gower, was absorbed in 1902 by Coronet of Coventry, whose chief engineer was Walter Iden. They built cars and automobile engines, but do not appear to have been involved with motorcycles.
Further information on Carlton: Stanley Show 1902
Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle.
N.B. Unrelated to Frederick Hanstock's Coventry firm which built Carlton motorcycles.
Manufactured by the Celtic Cycle Co of Dublin, early 1900s
A 1903 Celtic fitted with a 188cc FN engine was part of the Harry Lindsay collection, and is the only known survivor.
The firm was an engineering company which made wheels and had an early involvement in tyres. They made bicycles which were sold in Ireland and London before building making motorcycles. They later moved to Great Ship Street next to Dublin Castle as Lindsay & Sons and remained in business until about 1990 when the third generation to run the business retired.
Source: Robert Nason in the Motorcycles 1867-1930 FB Group.
Built in 1949 for speed records, the streamliner was fitted with a 500cc horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine and a cigar-shaped body in which the rider lay prone.
Manufactured by Colmore Motor Cycle Depot, agents for A.C, Morgan, Calthorpe, Singer, Morris-Oxford, Enfield, Ford, and Humber.
31, Colmore Row, Birmingham. 49, John Bright Street, Birmingham.
Mentioned as using Precision engines, this was possibly a one-off built for the Colmore trial. The Australian rider S.L. Bailey is thought to have worked at Colmore after leaving Humber, subsequently joining Douglas.
Sources: Advertisement in The Motor Cycle, September 26th 1912, et al
"The Coventry Duplex Co.'s motor bicycle with Motosacoche attachment. Note the special construction of the front fork."
Source: The Motor Cycle, 1907
Built by Mr. Raymond V. E. de B. Crawshaw in 1910, this very attractive rear wheel drive tricycle is thought to have been a one-off.
Source: The Motor Cycle
A quite remarkable special built in Scotland in 1921 by an aircraft engineer, the Duncan has a JAP 980cc sidevalve V-twin mounted transversely in the frame a la Guzzi. Power is delivered to the rear wheel via a two-speed gearbox and shaft drive, and the rear wheel is suspended by air shocks with swing-arm. Now restored and on display at the Sammy Miller Museum, the machine was rather more than somewhat ahead of its time.
In 1951/52 Ernie Earles of Elms Metals in Birmingham built a simply beautiful BSA 500cc A7 twin (possibly ex-works) using a light alloy frame and forks of his own design. These forks were used under licence on BMW motorcycles for many years, and also by MV Agusta. The design remains very much in favour with sidecar riders.
A letter in classicmotorcycle.co.uk notes that the frame is thought to have been offered to Joe Craig at Norton who demurred, and he also refused to supply Earles with a Manx Norton engine. The Earles was ridden in the 1952 TT by Charles Salt of BSA, who achieved 18th place in the Senior. It was also ridden by Cecil Sandford.
The frame was built by Ken Sprayson, "The Frame Man", of Reynolds Tube Co Ltd. It was he who developed the Norton Featherbed of McCandless design. He also built the Earles forks for this machine.
The Earles BSA is on display at the Sammy Miller Museum.
Manufactured by Williams of Bromyard, Herefordshire around 1911 or 1912.
Some ten motorcycles were built using TD Cross 499cc 3½ hp sidevalve engines. They had belt drive with pedal starting and were fitted with Saxon forks and an enclosed ZE1 Bosch magneto. It is possibly based on the Haden. One of these machines has survived and was featured in an article in The Motorcycle, October 1998.
Sources: Nick Smith, et al.
Glasgow Auto Cycle Services
An example is displayed at the Myreton Motor Museum in Aberlady, Scotland
Givaudan was an assembly firm that produced motorcycles between 1908 and 1914.
The company constructed motorcycles by combining such engines as Blumfield, Precision or Villiers with frames built up using BSA or Chater-Lea lugs. With the addition of gearing, various other fittings and a transfer, another marque was produced.
By being able to move with the times, not over stock or over produce, Givaudan were able to survive longer than many other firms of the era.
It is possible that they were associated with the French Givaudan firm of the same period.
Sources: Graces Guide, Tragatsch p147.
N.B. There is every chance that the information above is erroneous. Sources quoted by Graces all refer to the Givaudan engine, which is almost certainly of French origin. Tragatsch says that it's an English firm which used English engines, and makes no mention at all of the well-documented French firm.
Manufactured by Henry Ronald Godfrey and Archibald Frazer-Nash from 1910 to 1914, and then by British Gregoire of Wandsworth until about 1925.
See also Frazer-Nash
Source: Graces Guide
steamflyer59 at yahoo.com
I would like to purchase a copy of the book from which your articles on the Olympia are from for my library collection.
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Thanks for your timely reply and thanks for the info about the Boston Library Collection source.
To what should I refer to in order to digitally peruse this particular book?
I am a student of motorcycle history and I am surprised that there doesn't seem to be a work on the subject of the pioneer and vintage era motorcycle industry trade & public shows .
I really appreciate the work that you do as I have landed on your site repeatedly.
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I have noticed that you show photos of the GN cyclecar's mechanical anatomy. Views of the car's frame and drive train suspension etc.
Where can I get digital copies of these as I am contemplating building a 1/8 accurate scale model of this cyclecar.
9 Willow Street, Wallingford , Ct. , 06492
Geoff Monty was a successful racer and motorcycle parts specialist who developed a series of racing motorcycles. The GMS Special used a heavily modified BSA Goldstar engine of 250cc. In partnership with Allen Dudley-Ward the Monward Triumph was produced in 500 and 650cc versions (the fastest of which was believed capable of 145mph), and in 1966 a Rickman Metisse-framed Triumph appeared.
Monty died in 2009, aged 92.
Manufactured by Vernons Industries Ltd of Bidston in Cheshire, at £279.19.2d it was the cheapest vehicle of its type on the market. Erling Poppe, previously of Packman & Poppe and later at Sunbeam, designed the delta-style three-wheelers which were powered by 197cc Villiers Mk8E and Mk9E engines mounted in an external enclosure to the right of the driver. British Anzani 250cc engines were also fitted, apparently. The door was on the left, allowing access from the curb for the disabled, for whom they had made vehicles prior to the advent of the Gordon.
Advertised as having three speeds and reverse, they were fitted with a metal bar to prevent use of reverse. This was removed for those who had a full drivers licence, rather than a motorcycle licence which is what most buyers had. It is believed some 1500 were constructed, of which none survive.
Vernon Sangster was the owner of the firm.
Sources: Wikipedia, Graces Guide, wikiwirral.co.uk
Manufactured by Kerswell Cycles, Lawrence Hill, Bristol. 1905
P.J. Kerswell established a bicycle business in 1887. His forecar, powered by a 3 ½ hp engine, appeared in 1905.
Image is from "Bristol As It Was 1914-1900", published in 1965 by Reece Winstone.
Manufactured in Bath by Gordon and Loxley in 1921, their focus was on invalid carriages, which they built under government contract during WWII. Production ceased in the early 1950s.
Some post-war models used Cyclemaster engines.
1939 Haythorn 500cc Four
Holcroft 1¾ HP 1901
Built as a one-off in 1901, Holcroft himself became a specialist in the railway industry who ran a large foundry between 1904 and 1928 and held numerous patents for steam technology. The machine spent several years in Sammy Miller's museum before making its way to Austria, where it was further restored. It has a Mitchel 213cc engine mounted in Humber frame.
Source: Hannes Denzel article at mvca.at.
Built by Kenneth Holden, the 175cc Sport had an OHV engine (60x60mm B/S), saddle tank and Druid forks.
Fitted with CAV magneto, Binks carburettor and a Sturmey-Archer 3 speed gearbox, it was featured in an issue of Moto Revue which gave a Paris hotel as Holden's address. Geo Dupuy is mentioned in connection with this, but it is unclear whether the machine entered production under the Holden or another name, if at all.
A Kenneth Holden raced a BSA shortly before WWI. It may well be that this is the same person.
Manufactured by V. E. Hutfield, of Vic’s garage & workshop in Brockhurst Road, on the corner of Harding Road. Gosport (near Portsmouth in southern England)
Hutfield was an engineer and built aeroplanes including The R.A.S. monoplane in 1909.
In 1939 Hutfield bought the old military prison (Forton prison), in Lees Lane, Gosport, demolished it and built houses. Hutfield Link Road in Gosport is named after him.
Sources: wikipedia, hutfield.info
Invicta Cycle Car, 1912
Sole Manufacturer H. Clarke, 1, Clarendon Square, Leamington. Telephone-692. 8 h.p. J.A.P. Water-cooled, Thermo-syphon, Leather Cone Clutch, 3-speed gearbox and reverse clutch...
This was for all intents and purposes a conventional motor car with four wheels. It is included here as it was marketed as a cycle car, advertised in "The Motor Cycle", and there were several other makers which employed the Invicta marque.
Source: The Motor Cycle
Manufactured by A. Ogilvie, St Paul's Rd, Highbury Station, N.1, London
Active in 1926, probably other years.
James H Smith
Built in Camberley in 1904 by an engineering firm which was still operating in the 1950s, only one machine survives.
Source: The Bikesheds archive
Manufactured by the Kitto Automobile Co., Ltd., Chiswick, S.W. 1901-1903
Models were a 2 1/8th hp and a 3¼ hp.
The firm was wound up in 1903. S. B. Saunders was company chairman.
William Henry Kitto moved to the United States with his family in 1904, became a US citizen, and is listed as an automobile manufacturer in Ohio in 1910.
30. The Kitto Automobile Co., Ltd., Chiswick, S.W. The machines shown by this firm are of their well-known narrow type, and adapted so that the engine takes the place of the usual pillar tube, it being fixed at the bottom end to the bracket and the clown tube, and at the top end by a clip into which the seat pillar fits. The engine is 3.25 horse-power, and has combined mixing valve and throttle, or can be supplied with a float feed and spray carburetter. The top tube carries the lubricating oil, and the engine is supplied by a small force pump. There is a single lever to control the exhaust valve lifter and advance sparking. The battery and coil are clamped round the down tube, whilst the petrol tank is on the down stays. An exhaust box, capable of being cleaned, is an advantage. The driving pulley is securely fastened to the rim of the back wheel, not to the spokes. A provision is made within the, driving pulley on the motor to catch any oil which might work through the bearings. The prices range from 30 guineas for the 2.125 horse-power, to 40 guineas for the 3.25 horse-power.
The Kennedy Motor Company Ltd, Shettleston, Glasgow, builders of the Rob Roy automobile, produced a flat-twin engine in the 1920s. Named for the famed diamond, it is thought to have been fitted to a few motorcycles.
WITH the main object of converting Auto-wheels into motor scooters, a new company, L.A.D. Scooters, has been formed, with works at Lower Bourne, Farnham.
As will be seen from the illustration, the frame, which is registered, is of the open type with platform, and is fitted with a small wheel at the front, but in future models a larger size wheel will be fitted, probably of the saine size as the rear Auto-wheel. The standard frame of the Auto-wheel appears to be used, but a rim brake is fitted to the wheel rim. The price for the complete scooter is £39. Fitted with a thoroughly overhauled second-hand Auto-wheel, the figure is £25. The company is prepared to build up customers' own Auto-wheels.
The Motor Cycle July 17th, 1919.
Manufactured by Frank Desborough of Commercial Road, Wolverhampton in 1951.
Powered by a 125cc watercooled two-stroke flat twin of his own design, the engine was not ready for the first 125cc IOM race in 1951 so a Villiers/Bantam engine was fitted. The machine is thought to have been the first motorcycle in the world to be fitted with disc brakes. Only one was built.
The neat-looking Leader racer fitted with 7 h.p. Peugeot engine, ridden by E. Kickmam in both the Brooklands motor cycle races. In the first race Mr. Kickham finished second, but on the 9th inst. he was unable to catch up the limit men. The engine is fitted with a special current distributor.
Source: The Motor Cycle, 1908
A newcomer into the cyclecar class is the L.E.C, which is sold by the New Phonophore Telephone Co., 31, Budge Row, E.C., and is made throughout at the company's works at Southall.
The L.E.C., a water-cooled engined cyclecar with a Daimler pattern radiator.
Source: The Motor Cycle, 1912
Around 1953 Pantherwerke models were offered in Britain rebranded as the Leopard Bobby. These came in three models, the Mk3, Mk5 & Mk6.
L.S.D. Motor Co
Manufactured three-wheeled cyclecars named the Family, Popular and Standard models as well as 3 and 4 cwt vans.
The firm was established in 1919 at Huddersfield, later moving to Linthwaite and then to Mirfield before closing in 1924. The name is derived from the initials of the founders, Longbottom (the designer), Sykes (the manufacturer) and Dyson (the accountant).
An example has been displayed at the Tolson Museum, Huddersfield.
Hailing from Huddersfield, the L.S.D. is an exceptionally strongly constructed three-wheeler using various forms of the air-cooled J.A.P. engine in identical chassis.
A two-speed reverse gear and shaft and chain drive is employed; detachable and interchangeable wheels are used.
Bodywork has been considerably improved for next year, and a family model as been added to a range that now meets every need.
The Motor Cycle, 1922
Mead & Tomkinson
Most famous for their 1000cc endurance racer, Nessie, the car and motorcycle dealership run by the Tomkinson father and sons in Hereford and Tewkesbury successfully raced machines based on the BSA Gold Star engine at the IOM TT and in a variety of endurance races including Le Mans, Spa and Barcelona in the 1960s and 70s.
In 1974 their first multi appeared powered by a Laverda 3C engine. This was Nessie, which proved to be one of the most innovative racing machines of the period, if not the prettiest - hence the name.
Along with modified Difazio hub-steering it had an underslung fuel tank to reduce C of G, parallelogram rear suspension (as used later by Hesketh), and sophisticated electronics. Decades later most of these ideas had been employed by high-end sports machines.
Sources: Wikipedia, et al.
E. A. MCLACHLAN, 55, Brighton Road, Stoke Newington, S.E. This exhibitor shows a two-seated sociable motor tricycle, which he catalogues at £75 - a machine of simple construction, but with no attempt at finish, and driven by a heavy oil motor, a simple construction, adopting the usual plumber's lamp for starting the vaporisation of the oil, which then acts by direct suction. Two speeds are obtained by means of belts with jockey pulleys, and the weight of the car is given as three and a half hundredweight.
From a report on the 1899 Motor Show (Cordingley)
Source: Graces Guide
Introduced at the Milan EICMA exhibition in November 2007, the motorcycles are produced by British firm which has them assembled in China. The Megelli range has been exported to 37 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, and to Australia.
Source: wikipedia.en, megelli.com
Manufactured by Mepsted and Hayward, 52 Rodney Street, Pentonville, London. 1920
"...Two models are made, one of which is constructed primarily for attachment to pedal cycles.
The scooter engine, which is of the two-stroke two-port type, has very small external dimensions. The latest pattern Fellows magneto is fitted, the miniature size of which is in keeping with the remainder of the engine, and this can be mounted in different positions around the crank case. A steel cylinder is used, having a bore and stroke of 54 x 51 mm. (116 c.c)..."
"Lubrication is on the petroil system. A petrol tank, however, is not included in the outfit, as the
disposition of the engine necessitates many variations in design. Steel stampings are used both for the
connecting rod and flywheel.
The second model, suitable for pedal cycles, is similar in construction to the scooter engine, with the exception of the position and method of mounting the magneto. In this case it is held by spring bands to the bottom of the crank case, which latter differs from the first design, inasmuch as both main bearings are made integral with the casting, whilst one side is held to the remainder of the crank case by means of bolts."
Source: The Motor Cycle, January 22nd, 1920.
Mitchell, Early 1900s
Marketed by Davis, Allen & Co., 5, 6 and 7, Singer Street, London E.C. Used a clip-on style engine.
This machine originated at the Wisconsin Wheel Works and was fitted with an attachment engine fitted high in the frame above the pedal crank with the cylinder inclined forwards. The Stevens Brothers rode their first motorcycle powered by a Mitchell engine in the late 1890s.
Sources: period literature, historywebsite.co.uk, earlymotor.com
A 50cc four-cylinder two-stroke built by Duncan Mitchell of Moto Decla, Stevenage, in the early 1960s. The engine was designed by Eric Fitz-Hugh some years earlier and further developed by Mitchel, an experienced 50cc frame constructor, who also built a 5 speed gearbox for the machine. With a bore and stroke of 25.3 x 25mm, each cylinder has a capacity of 12cc. The machine was not completed due, it is said, to financial constrictions.
William Murchie of Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, built several motorcycles in the early 1900s before becoming a dealer for Ford and Austin.
The Nobel 200 Fuldamobil was manufactured by York Noble Industries Ltd, (N. Ireland) between 1958 and 1962 under licence from Elektromaschinenbau Fulda GmbH.
The Nobel name may also have been used in Turkey and Chile.
Source: Wikipedia EN
Norman Engineering Company
Founded in 1919, the firm built motorcycle and industrial engines. Initially based in Leamington Spa, they moved to Warwick in 1936.
Norman 143cc four-stroke engines were fitted to the Kenilworth scooter. They were also fitted to Italian motorcycles of the 1920s such Alfa and Doglioli & Civardi.
Motorcycle engine types included types E, EC, ECR (170cc) and MC (175cc). Production of motorcycle engines ended in 1936.
Sources: Wikipedia, et al.
North British Machine Company (NBMC)
Located at 24 Carlton Place, Glasgow, the company bought several Barr & Stroud engines, so it seems likely that they produced motorcycles, possibly between 1903 an 1909.
In the 1950s they sold motoring accessories, tools and equipment to the motor trade with customers throughout Scotland, and were agents for Elswick-Hopper bicycles
They may well have been related to The North British Motor Company of 310a St Vincent Street, agents for Clement, De-Dion and Lanchester Cars.
Sources: talkingscot.com, classicmotorcycleforum.com
Manufactured by Ransome Sims and Jeffries in 1919, the Orwell was an electric sidecar combination with the batteries located below the sidecar passenger seat. The machine was road registered for road use and tested, but does not appear to have progressed further than prototype.
Source: Graces Guide
The Oxford motor bicycle, a machine with a motor carried over the front wheel, which it drives with a chain, very much after the style of the Werner motocyclette, which machine it is probably an improvement upon, and the Oxford motor car, built either as a three or four-wheeler, at £90 and £95 respectively.
From a report on the 1899 Motor Show (Cordingley)
Source: Graces Guide
Manufactured by Peel Engineering, Isle of Man.
Powered initially by 49cc DKW two-stroke engines, 47 machines were built in 1963 and 1964. The P50 was replaced by the slightly larger Peel Trident, some of which used the 98cc engine and automatic transmission from the Triumph Tina scooter. In 1966 they offered a 12v electric motor version.
Source: Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum
During the 1970's Ray Petty and Harry Carter built a racing special utilising a 750cc Weslake twin cylinder engine housed in a Petty built chassis. The machine, producing approximately 74bhp, was raced by Harry Carter's son during the 1970's. This example was built during 1999 using A replica of the original constructed by White Rose Racing in 1999 fitted with a reconditioned Weslake 750cc parallel twin engine. A Hemmings clutch and belt drive transmit the power via an RGM four speed gearbox.
The completed machine made its competition debut in 2000 at Cadwell Park in the hands of Gary Carter, Harry Carter's son and the original machines' rider during the seventies. It placed first.
Source: H&H Classic Auctions
Built in Worcestershire before the Great War in small numbers, information on this marque is scarce.
There were two other British Phoenix brands, one in London (1900~1928) and another in the 1950s, a scooter, also based in London.
Source: Graces Guide
Manufactured by Heinle & Wegelin of Germany, the PTS Auto-cycle was a tricycle developed along the lines of the Rüb & Haab and sold in the years 1899-1900 by Patents Trading Syndicate of Chiswell Street, London, E.C.. It may also have been marketed in the UK as the Liliput.
R.E. Geeson built 250cc DOHC roadracers which were campaigned in the 50s and 60s by Derek Minter, John Hartle and John Surtees, the latter claiming the marque's first victory at Brands Hatch and setting a new lap record in the process.
British manufacturers took no notice whatsoever of Bob Geeson's efforts, with predictable results: the Italians and Japanese simply blew them into the weeds. Not to be outdone in the stupidity stakes, their successors have opted for Brexit.
The example in the Sammy Miller museum has been extensively restored and represents a 1959 season machine. It was formerly part of in the Geeson collection.
Sources: motorcycleclassics.com, realclassic.co.uk
Manufactured by the Sabella Car Co., Albany Street, W.
A RUN ON THE LATEST SABELLA.
WE recently had a run on the latest type of 8 h.p. Sabella cyclecar (the Sabella Car Co., Albany Street, W.) This vehicle is driven by an 8 h.p. J. A. P. engine, as are so many of the light cyclecars now on the road. The engine has an additional external flywheel, and is cooled by a fan driven by round belt off the mainshaft.
The Motor Cycle, 1912.
Manufactured by Geier"In the new Safari moped, introduced at the 1958 Earls Court Show, Stuart and Payne Ltd. appear to have a real winner, for this German machine - powered by the well-tried Sachs engine in either two- or three-speed forms - offers a superb performance, coupled with a simplicity of design which argues both durability and freedom from adjustments."
The Hunslet Scootacar was manufactured by Hunslet Engineering Company of Leeds, better known for its Puffing Billy style locomotives. Powered by a Villiers 9E 197cc engine, the tandem two-seater microcar had a fully enclosed fibreglass body. Designed by Henry Brown, around 1000 of these three-wheelers were built between 1958 and 1964. From 1961 they were also available with a 324cc Villiers twin in the Mk3 version.
An example of the Mk1 was on display at the Bruce Weiner Microcar Museum for many years.
Charles Sgonina (b.1901) built an advanced DOHC racer in 1922. The cylinder head was of his own manufacture mounted on a Norton bottom end with bevel-driven cams. The engine was housed in a frame from Sunbeam using forks of the same brand. Transmission was by chain and it had a dummy-rim rear brake.
Sgononi's first attempt at a racing special was based on a sidevalve BRS Norton which he converted to OHV in 1919, some years before Norton introduced their own OHV motorcycle. Subsequently he developed a number of different configurations including chain-driven OHC before settling on a bevel drive system. During this period a supercharger was added with spectacular, if somewhat inflammatory, results.
1923 saw the final phase - a DOHC head with 90 degree inclined valves. Norton thought this a rather good idea and 14 years later built their own.
C. Sgonina was listed to ride a Triumph Ricardo in the 1922 Senior at the IOM TT.
The machine was displayed in Murray's Museum on the Isle of Man in the 1970s, and then disappeared for some time after the death of John Griffith, the owner, in 1983.
N.B. One source says that the engine was housed in a frame from Sunbeam using forks of the same brand.
Sources: thebestmotorcycle.blogspot.com, southwalessectionvmcc.co.uk
The Sheffield Minor, the latest recruit to the list of two-stroke lightweights. The model illustrated is fitted with chain-cum-belt drive and two-speed Albion countershaft gear.
A New Two-stroke Lightweight.
THE latest addition to the ranks of the small two-stroke is known as the Sheffield Minor, and is handled by the Colmore Depot in Birmingham. The machine has a striking appearance, owing partly to the sloping top tube, which is also slightly dropped at the rear end. The power is supplied by a Villiers two-stroke unit, and the transmission is either direct by belt or by chain and belt through the medium of an Albion two-speed countershaft gear.
Lubrication is by sight feed drip to the inlet pipe, whence the oil is distributed in the form of vapour. 26in. x 2in. tyres are fitted, the mudguarding is well carried out, and the machine is finished in black and green.
The fittings are noticeably good and include aluminium footboards, armoured pannier tool bags, heavy type Druid forks, and large pan seat. The saddle is unusually luxurious for a moderately-priced machine.
The Motor Cycle, July 8th, 1915
The Thompson Brothers of Bilston built three-wheeled cyclecars at their aircraft factory from 1919 to 1924. These accommodated two adults and a child, and were guaranteed to do 60 m.p.h.
A distant relative of the machines saw service as an aircraft refueler during WWII and these remained active at some airports into the 1990s. Of the 150 cyclecars constructed in the 1920s only one remains, but some 20 of the 3-wheeled refuelers exist in museums and collections around the world.
Sources: wikipedia.en, The Motor Cycle.
Manufactured by P J Fulham in Laurence Gate, Drogheda, a bicycle shop. Drogheda is 50km north of Dublin.
Robert Nason writes, "It's more than likely that they made one or two machines and no more." He also states that a surviving machine presented as a Tredagh is of dubious heritage.
Source: Motorcycles 1867-1930 FB Group.
26-30 Lowgates, Staveley, Chesterfield.
Unity Equipe specialised in Manx Norton, Triumph & Triton motorcycles. Alloy and fibreglass tanks were included in the 54 page catalogue of 2015, believed to have been their last. That year they sold the business.
In 1978 the firm bought the rights to the Manx name from John Tickle. The rights to the name were sold to Bernie Allen of Wiltshire in 1989, who sold the name to Andy Molnar in 1994.
Manufactured by V.A.L. Motor Co of 314 Bradford Street, Birmingham
The company produced sidecars but 1913-14 made a cyclecar with 488cc JAP engined machine. The page on Precision engines states that these were supplied to V.A.L.
Mention is made of a motorcycle, but no evidence of such has been found. Red Book for 1917 mentions only cars.
V.A.L. In the V.A.L. sidecar the front of the body is supported from the chassis on a couple of plain helical springs in much the same manner as the Calthorpe, but in the rear quite an individual form of suspension is adopted. Some details of this are shown in the sketch (not posted). The chassis is a perfectly rigid affair, and on the axle tube is mounted a tubular frame, which is free to swing up and down on bearings. This frame is connected to an arm supported by the chassis through a coiled spring at each aide. This arrangement no doubt effects a considerable reduction in weight and certainly makes a very neat and satisfactory construction.
The Motor Cycle, August 6th, 1914. p183
Vickers was a large company which built all manner of engineering equipment and armaments including 100 ton cranes, 1200 horsepower engines and aeroplanes, During WWII they built 188 warships including battleships and aircraft carriers, guns for the battleships and machine guns. Vickers machine guns were fitted to many motorcycle outfits during the first war.
Vickers motorcycle engines barely rank a mention in the annals of the firm's extensive history, however they owned a substantial stake in William Beardmore and Co who built, among other things, Beardmore Precision motorcycles.
It is reported that in 1921 Vickers built a 976cc V-twin Wolseley engine to an Enfield design. The model remained in the Enfield catalogue until 1924, replaced in 1925 with a Royal Enfield engine.
As Vickers had owned 60% of William Beardmore & Co. since 1902, it seems possible that these engines were actually Beardmore Precision engines . Vickers sold their shares back to William Beardmore in 1926.
Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle.
N.B. 1. Howard Burrows does not think so.
The Volta sidecar is sold by the Volta Sidecar and Accessories Co., 23, Westworth Road, Manor Park, London, E.12.
"...previously known as the Delta..."
The MotorCycle, December 9th, 1920.
Manufactured around 1906 by Warrilow & Co. of Weston-Super-Mare, the motorcycles were available with engines of the customer's choice. A known survivor is fitted with a Quadrant 454cc engine verified to be of 1906 manufacture.
Manufactured by Wilcox Engineering of Holme Lacey, Hereford, 1981-1983.
Tom Wilcox & his three sons, Steve, Mike & Brian built motocross and enduro machines fitted with a lightweight 498cc engine, making extensive use of magnesium alloy in components such as wheel hubs, fork sliders and engine components. The firm machined their own straight-cut gears and engine internals. Suspension was progressive monoshock and long-travel telescopic forks.
The end result was a fine machine weighing just 103kg with the two-stroke engine pushing out over 50 bhp.
Although technically superior in several aspects, the Wilcomoto did not fare well in competition and production was curtailed after just two years.
Source: brightwells.com, et al
The Shilovski Gyrocar was commissioned in 1912 by Count Pyotr Shilovsky, a member of the Russian nobility. A clever gentleman, by all accounts, he designed the car whilst living in Britain and contracted the Wolseley company to build it. It was completed in 1914, just as things got rather busy in Russia - and elsewhere.
The gyrocar was powered by a modified four cylinder Wolseley 16-20 engine displacing just over 3 litres. This was front mounted with the radiator forming the firewall, and drive was via cardan shaft to the rear wheel. The machine had no wheel brakes; it used a transmission brake on the drive train.
Capable of carrying five passengers, it weighed in at 2 3/4 tons empty and with a wheelbase approaching 20 feet its turning circle radius was comfortably within that of a football field.
Shilovski returned to Russia at the outbreak of WWI and Wolsely did not hear from him again so they did the sensible thing and buried his machine. It was disinterred in 1938, restored and featured in the Wolsely museum, just in time for the next war. The weirdness failed to abate, however, and Wolsely broke the machine up for scrap in 1948.
Wolseley were also associated with the Italian Wolsit , and a Wolsley engine powered a Royal Enfield motorcycle.
Sources: wikipedia.en, et al.
The Xtra was an English three-wheel cyclecar built from 1922 to 1924 by Xtra Cars, Ltd., of Chertsey, Surrey.
No vehicle built offers such a remarkable choice of power units, while otherwise remaining essentially the same as the 1923 Xtra car. A two-seater model has been evolved; in the runabout form, it is fitted with a 347 c.c. Villiers engine and costs £105; in the "touring" form a 976 c.c. V-twin J. A. P. is substituted, when the price is increased to £122 17s., incidentally the lowest priced two-seater three-wheeler on the market.
On this unconventional vehicle, two pairs of transverse springs act as front axles and carry car type stub axles on pivot pins. Rear springing is by two quarter-elliptic springs. The body also acts in the same capacity as a chassis on a normal car.
The Motor Cycle
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