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 THE WAY WE WERE

Zooming into a new era

BRITAIN was fast becoming a nation on the move. New affluence was allowing more and more people to have transport of their own and car numbers were soaring.
But so too were the number of two wheelers on the road – and not all of them high powered motor bikes.
The mid-Fifties saw an upsurge in a new type of transport, the scooter and the moped.
Britain was late in catching on to scooters which were Continental in origin, but as a look back to the 1959 Cycle and Motor Cycle Show at Earl’s Court show, the choice was amazing.
Most scooters and mopeds were not of British manufacturer, BSA being the leader with their baby Dandy 70 and the 200cc “Beesa.”
It was left largely to importers of German and Italian machines to form the colourful challenge
But it was a three wheeler which proved the sensation of the show that year – the Bond Minicar Mark E.
One report said: “The new car gives a clear answer to the threat of the little egg-shaped scooted cars which are coming over from the Continent. For the Mark E with its powerful new 197cc Villiers 9E engine counters compactness and ‘two wheels first’ with all the room in the world and ‘one wheel first.’
“The Mark E has sports car lines, two doors, big car width for three people, bumpers and reverse gear. It does over 50mphg and 85mpg and costs £339 including tax.”
Particularly striking that year was the increasing use of plastics. “From complete sidecars to tank motifs the medium is being used wherever it can to help save cost or improve durability.”
Innovations that year included the appearance of the first tubeless tyres and a puncture-;less tyre for scooters and mini-cars.
An example of motor cycle vale was said to be the newly styled James Comet which cost less than £90 including tax.
“For the sporting enthusiast who cannot afford road racing but still enjoys a ‘battle’ the £162 8s 10d Francis Barnett Falcon Scrambler is a lightweight which provides plenty of fun at low cost and little risk.”

Written by The Editor - 11/08/2007 20:07:50

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