Cyclecar


Cyclecar
1914 La Vigne cyclecar advertisement.

Cyclecars were small, generally inexpensive cars manufactured mainly between 1910 and the late 1920s.

Contents

General description

Cyclecars were propelled by single cylinder, V-twin or more rarely four cylinder engines, often air cooled. Sometimes these had been originally used in motorcycles and other components from this source such as gearboxes were also employed. Cyclecars were half way between motorcycles and cars and were fitted with lightweight bodies, sometimes in a tandem two-seater configuration and could be primitive with minimal comfort and weather protection. They used various layouts and means of transmitting the engine power to the wheels, such as belt drive or chain drive often to one rear wheel only to avoid having to provide a differential.

The rise of cyclecars was a direct result of reduced taxation both for registration and annual licences of lightweight small engined cars. In France, for example, a car was classed for reduced rates if it weighed less than 350 kg (772 lb).

On 14 December 1912, at a meeting of the Federation Internationale des Clubs Moto Cycliste, it was formally decided that there should be an international classification of cyclecars to be accepted by the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Austria and Germany. It was also decided to establish two classes of cyclecars, as follows;

  • (i) Large class
    • Maximum weight 350 kg (772 lb)
    • Maximum engine capacity 1100 cc
    • Minimum tyre section 60 mm (2.4 in).
  • (ii) Small class
    • Minimum weight 150 kg (331 lb)
    • Maximum weight 300 kg (661 lb)
    • Maximum engine capacity 750 cc
    • Minimum tyre section 55 mm (2.2 in).

All cyclecars were to have clutches and change-speed gears. This requirement could be fulfilled by even the simplest devices such as provision for slipping the belt on the pulley to act as a clutch, and varying of the pulley diameter to change the gear ratio.

The cyclecars appear

From 1898 to 1910, automobile production quickly expanded. Light cars of that era were commonly known as voiturettes. The smaller cyclecars appeared around 1910 with a boom shortly before the outbreak of World War I.

The first successful cyclecars were Bédélia of France and G.N. from Britain.

Sporting cars and cyclecar races

Some cyclecars such as Amilcar, Major or Salmson of France had good enough performance and handling to be regarded as sports cars.

Races dedicated for cyclecars were also run with the first event of this kind organised by the Automobile Club de France in 1913 and a Cyclecar GP at Le Mans in 1920.

The decline of cyclecars

By the early 1920s, the days of the cyclecar were numbered. Mass producers, such as Ford, were able to reduce their prices to undercut those of the usually small cyclecar makers. Similar affordable cars were offered in Europe such as the Citroën 5CV, Austin 7 or Morris Cowley.

The cyclecar boom was over. The majority of cyclecar manufacturers closed down. Some companies such as Chater-Lea survived by returning to the manufacture of motorcycles.

After World War II, small, economic cars were again in demand and a new set of manufacturers appeared. The cyclecar name did not reappear however and the cars were called microcars by enthusiasts and bubble cars by the general population.

Cyclecars by countries

Argentina

  • Viglione

Austria

Belgium

  • SCH

Canada

  • Baby Car
  • Campagna T-Rex
  • Dart Cycle Car Co
  • Glen Motor Company
  • Gramm
  • Holden-Morgan
  • Welker-Doerr

Czechoslovakia

  • Novo
  • Vaja

France

Germany

Greece

Italy

Poland

  • SKAF

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United Kingdom

United States

See also

Books

  • Worthington-Williams, Michael (1981). From cyclecar to microcar the story of the cyclecar movement. [London]: Beaulieu Books. ISBN 0-901564-54-0. 
  • David Thirlby (2002). inimal Motoring: From Cyclecar to Microcar. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7524-2367-3. 

External links


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cyclecar — Werbeschrift für das La Vigne Cyclecar (1914) Als Cyclecar bezeichnet man kleine, üblicherweise billige Automobile, die hauptsächlich zwischen 1910 und Ende der 1920er Jahre gebaut wurden. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Beschr …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cyclecar — Voiture sans permis Une voiturette Delage Un quadricycle léger à moteur, plus communément appelé voiture sans permis ou voiturette, désigne, en France, un véhicule à quatre roues. Le terme de voiturette a été utilisé pour le première fois par… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cyclecar — /suy keuhl kahr /, n. a light automobile, open like a motorcycle but having three or four wheels. [1910 15; (MOTOR)CYCLE + CAR1] * * * …   Universalium

  • cyclecar — cy·cle·car …   English syllables

  • cyclecar — ˈsīkəlˌ ̷ ̷, ˈsik noun Etymology: motorcycle + car : a small 3 wheeled or 4 wheeled motor driven vehicle * * * /suy keuhl kahr /, n. a light automobile, open like a motorcycle but having three or four wheels. [1910 15; (MOTOR)CYCLE + CAR1] …   Useful english dictionary

  • JPL Cyclecar — Werbeschrift für La Vigne Cyclecar (1914) Die JPL Cyclecar Company war ein US amerikanischer Automobilhersteller, der 1913 1914 in Detroit (Michigan) ansässig war und ein Cyclecar herstellte. Der Wagen wurde vom Ingenieur J. P. La Vigne… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Greyhound Cyclecar — (1914) Greyhound Light Car (1916) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Imp Cyclecar — (1913) Die Imp Cyclecar Company war ein US amerikanischer Automobilhersteller in Auburn (Indiana) und Tochterunternehmen der W. H. McIntyre Company, die ebenfalls Automobile herstellte. 1913 und 1914 wurden dort Cyclecars unter dem Namen IMP (dt …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hawk Cyclecar — (1914) Die der Hawk Cyclecar Company war ein US amerikanischer Automobilhersteller, die 1914 von Frank S. Salter, Duane Tibbets und W. W. McIntyre in Detroit (Michigan) gegründet wurde. Cyclecar, das 1914 von gebaut wurde. Der Hawk besaß einen V2 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Keller Cyclecar — Keller Kar (1914) Die Keller Cyclecar Corporation war ein US amerikanischer Automobilhersteller in Chicago (Illinois). Ursprünglich wurde die Gesellschaft von Rechtsanwälten aus Wilmington (Delaware) gegründet. 1914 wurden dort ein Cyclecar unter …   Deutsch Wikipedia