Levis Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

HEC Powercycles

Hepburn Engineering marketed an auto cycle using an 80cc two stroke engine built by Levis to Ray Mason's design from 1938 until 1940 when the factory was bombed. This was the HEC Power Cycle. The address given when first presented at Earl's Court in late 1938 was King's Cross, London.

Levis ceased production after the onset of WWII, and David Hepburn took over the Levis concern at Stechford after Mr Hitler's 1000 year reich fizzled somewhat earlier than planned. Hepburn built his 80cc engines at the Levis factory until at least 1951, possibly 1955. The Swedish Apollo used a small number of these in 1951.

By an odd coincidence, my morning mail recently included a nostalgic inquiry from an old Levis fan, plus a letter from W S Banner, one of the brains behind the pre-war Levis marque. Banner tells me that at the moment the Levis concern does not see its way to the costly re-tooling implied in a return to the full motor cycle market. Levis is, however, exporting a fair number of 80cc two-stroke engines to Continental assemblers. Under the trade name of the HEC Power Cycle that unit enjoyed a nice vogue under the slogan of the "Farthing Per Mile" autocycle. The firm is also marketing air compressors, and a small two-stroke unit for agricultural purposes, but regard their association with complete motor cycles as a thing of the past.

~ Ixion's Occasional Comments in The Motor Cycle, 5 April 1951.

1. There was an HEC motorcycle built by the Hewins Engineeering Company of Taunton, Somerset, in 1923-24.
2. There were several errors for this marque, primarily stating the maker's name as Hanstock rather than Hepburn. My thanks to Alan Sinton for the corrections.

Sources: sunbeam-mcc.co.uk, The Moped Archive, icenicam.org.uk.

geoff.sinton7 at gmail.com
HEC Power Cycle
The article on HEC has a number of errors. The Levis company was in fact bought by my grandfather, David Hepburn who as far as I am aware had no connection with Hanstock engineering. The HEC Power Cycle (among other machines) was designed by Ray Mason who was at Levis at that time and continued as designer and Works Manager until 1970. The company continued producing air compressors until the '90s when cheap imports caused production to cease. The factory site is still owned by Levis (Holdings) Ltd and has no connection with the company in Norfolk using the name Levis.
Alan G Sinton
United Kingdom

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