Today in Motorcycle History

Norman Downs

Imperial were motorcycles produced between 1901 and 1903, by Norman Downs in Birmingham. It was the name he used when he founded the company and before he added New in front of it.

1901 Having already been established in the bicycle trade, Downs entered the powered market at the Stanley Show. A model was exhibited that had a 3½ hp engine mounted above the front wheel which it drove by belt. Only one machine was sold and all the others were used by staff.

1902 At the show they had a 2hp model.

1903 They appeared at the Stanley Show in November.

Report from the Stanley Show 1902

Stand 92

Imperial Cycle and Motor Co, Birmingham.

The motor-bicycle on show at this stand has a neat appearance, the case, containing the accumulator, trembler coil, petrol, lubricating tanks, and carburetter, being of polished mahogany, a contrast to the metal cases we are so accustomed to see. The machine is fitted with a 2 h.p. engine in the inclined position. One lever operates the compression, mixture and sparking. The tank will hold sufficient petrol for a 100 miles ride. An automatic lubricator is fitted, and a very efficient silencer is carried underneath the bottom bracket. Price £42.

Motor Cycling, 26th November 1902

The Imperial Cycle and Motor Co.

have got an exceedingly good thing in a new registered frame, which takes the motor in a vertical position. The cradle of the frame so takes the engine that the vibration is absorbed, and the engine can be put in or taken out in a few minutes' time. The engine is also fitted with a new patent wipe contact, and the motor itself is controlled by two levers. The engine develops 3½ h.p. on the brake.

The Motor Cycle, November 18th 1903, p795
Stanley Show 1903

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle.

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