We bet that most people are only faintly aware that the Ariel motorcycle brand existed at all. There was a time, though, when the British company was a pioneer in new and exciting technologies, innovating where others were content to soldier forward with tried-and-true methods. In fact, its eventual failure was due in part to its futuristic designs. For instance, Ariel introduced the world to its Square Four motorcycle in 1931. Named for its oddly-shaped engine architecture that placed four cylinders in a box pattern, the Square Four was completely unlike anything else offered at the time and used two sets of pistons mated at the flywheel inside a single engine block that was capped by a single head casting. Different to say the least, but ultimately pretty successful for Ariel, which went on to sell over 15,000 of the bikes before production ceased in 1959.
An interesting home-built hotrod has just shown up on eBay that mates this classic engine to a custom wooden body designed by – get this – a boat builder. The vehicle itself was inspired by a Modern Mechanix Magazine article from the ’50s and features a French connection by way of suspension components from a Citroen. Cadillac bullet-shaped tail lights may look a little out of place, but are nothing if not period correct.
Posts Tagged ‘home made’
Pop Strutts (my grampa) created this bit of vehicular awesome from a lawnmower engine, some stray bicycle parts and wood scraps. There was no steering wheel, only a tiller.
The engine was a Briggs & Stratton 1/2 hp rope-starter. It had three gears, but to change gears you had to stop, move the drive belt a pulley over, and hope it didn’t sever your fingers while you moved it. There was an accelerator pedal that attached to the throttle, and a brake that consisted of a lever that forced a piece of metal into the rubber of one of the rear wheels.
To shut down the engine, there was a piece of spring metal with a wooden switch to short out the spark plug. It’d give you a nice zap if your finger missed the wood.
What’s not shown here is The Peckerwood. On the rear of the vehicle, Pop mounted a wooden image of a boy who mechanically rocked back and forth as the Go Cart moved, poking his steel wire “pecker” back and forth through a steel eye screw. Papa Strutts probably removed it so as not to give a 10 year-old Bunk any nasty ideas, but I remember it. I had nasty ideas anyway, but not because of The Peckerwood.
[Update: November 2014 – this sold at a recent estate sale for $75.]
“This full-size handmade toy has a bell mechanism (a cowbell inside which rings when the crank is wound) a hook, a receiver and traces of paint. Made from scrap wood for a child when toys were made at home. Circa 1910.”