This page lists brands about which little historical information is currently available.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
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
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.
Can you help me with this?
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.
I am very interested also in cyclecars and have read your articles on this subject as well .
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 £300 it was the cheapest vehicle of its type on the market. Designed by Erling Poppe, previously of Packman & Poppe, the delta-style three-wheeler was powered by a Villiers 197cc engine mounted beside the driver. Several hundred were constructed.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
The firm built motocross and enduro machines fitted with a lightweight 500cc engine, making extensive use of magnesium alloy in components such as wheel hubs, fork sliders and engine components. Suspension was progressive monoshock and long-travel telescopic forks.
Although technically superior in several aspects, they did not fare well in competition and production was curtailed after just two years.
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
If you have a query about vintage British machines please contact us