Phoenix Motorcycles by Hooydonk

Today in Motorcycle History

Phoenix Motorcycles and Tri-cars

J. Van Hooydonk, Phoenix Motor Cycle Works, 736, Holloway Road, London N.

The managing directors were Hooydonk and A.F. Ilsley, company address Blundell St, Caledonian Road, King's Cross, London N. (1903)

Joseph Van Hooydonk was a Belgian living in England who, at the age of 22, established a bicycle manufacturing business. He built his first Minerva-powered motorcycles in 1900 at his small factory in Holloway Road, north London, and these were offered for sale in early 1901.

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.

Vehicle production continued until about 1928.

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


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

1902 The machines made an appearance at the Stanley Show - Phoenix 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.

A report from the 1903 Stanley Show: Phoenix 1903

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.

Sources: Graces Guide, Bernard Russell

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

There were other British Phoenix brands - see Disambiguation

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