Author Topic: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please  (Read 5184 times)

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #75 on: July 22, 2023, 07:48:55 AM »
The Malvern /Mobylette card has very little info. The engine number is 65854, it had been registered twice, first time reg number AS 043 but the date of registration was left blank. NEVER seen that before and Iíve now looked at a monumental number of these cards now. The second registration was on 22.10.55 and the number issued was BH 736.

What a pity the first rego date is blank. The engine number 65854 is very early, dating (according to the vast Mobylette community on line) to 1951 (numbers 44526 to 191039), so a build/registration date of 1951-2 would be fine. Can we confirm by estimating a date for the rego number AS 043?

The Malvern Star/Mobylette in the museum in Melbourne is NOT this bike, but has a similar engine number 660**, no doubt from the same batch of engines. Still looking into it, but according to the helpful museum staff the bike looks very much like a pure Mobylette, but with certain Malvern Star features, such as three 6-point stars brazed onto the head lug. It has "M3" stamped on the seat lug, where the frame number (eg 52Mxxxx on their 1952 2-speeder) is stamped. If this were a "Malvern Star" number from 1953 I'd expect it to be 53M. According to the museum acquisition record in 1972, the bike was built in Melbourne using a French engine and parts, but there is no supporting evidence, or even an explanation, of this claim. But I could believe it: maybe a few Mobylettes (let's say three, numbered M1, M2, M3... because I have a vivid imagination) as a trial of local assembly from imported parts - the model on which Australian motorcycle manufacture was based since pre-WW1 days. There were duty/tax benefits for local build.

Note that Bruce Small Ltd was not the Mobylette agent in Melbourne, and I haven't seen any Mobylette advertising in Melbourne before Mayfair Motors gained the agency for Mobylettes (and other Motobecane motorcycles and scooters) early in 1953. My guess is that Bruce Small and Motobecane were investigating whether Mobylettes would be imported complete, or assembled in the factory in South Melbourne. Looks like the former won, unless a study of surviving Mobylettes in Australia reveals more local builds.

Cheers

Leon

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #76 on: July 23, 2023, 02:41:53 AM »
To add to the "Mobylettes built outside France with French parts" story, it turns out this was not uncommon. One of the biggest operations was in Spain, where GAC built Mobylettes under licence from 1951. Seems to fit in well with the idea of Bruce Small doing some trial assembly in Melbourne in 1951, even if quantity production didn't follow.

I wonder who knew in 1951, when engine numbers were 65000-ish, that total production of Mobylettes would reach 14 million by the 1970s.

Leon

Offline Rex

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #77 on: July 23, 2023, 09:25:24 PM »
Mobylettes were also built under licence by Raleigh for a while.
Vile things.
The moped with the two-speed  Villiers 3K engine (Philips, Norman etc) were far better.

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #78 on: July 24, 2023, 01:58:19 AM »
Yes indeed Rex, but not until 1960 according to what I found. Turkey was another base for Mobylette manufacture.

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #79 on: July 25, 2023, 02:23:19 AM »
Back to the Melbourne Mobylette. Victoria changed over to alphanumeric number plates in 1951.
In fact the first one, AA 001 was issued to a 1933 MOV Velocette on 17/9/51 so the Mobylette AS 043 is probably late Ď52 or early Ď53. Thatís the closest I can get. The changeover from all numeric to the new alphanumeric was erratic as it seems they continued to issue old style plates alongside the new type until stocks were exhausted.

Finally, by this time Bruce Small was moving out of two-wheelers and into real estate. He could see thatís where the big money was. I donít think his heart was in Mobylettes.

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #80 on: July 25, 2023, 04:40:07 AM »
Thanks. Quite possible that "prototype" Malvern Star/Mobylettes, maybe built in 1951/52, were cleaned out in the era of the "reconditioned in out factory" Auto-bykes in 1952-53. The museum's bike might appear on the registration record as a Mobylette?

I have another entry for weird things: There is a surviving Malvern Star in Victoria - engine number XXA 20610, a "6M..." frame number so 1946 build - that has a very original "Henderson" transfer on the tank. Certainly built in the Bruce Small factory, but I wonder if it was sold new as a Henderson or Malvern Star. The transfer is full size, and right across the tank, so much more than a dealer's transfer on a Malvern Star. The search for a Henderson cycle shop in Victoria has come up with not much - maybe something in Heidelberg. Of course it could have been refinished as a Henderson in a later refurb.

Probably time to move on!

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #81 on: July 25, 2023, 05:27:39 AM »
XXA 20610 first registered 17/5/46 as a Malvern Star, number plate 3468. Maybe the first owners surname was Henderson?

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #82 on: July 25, 2023, 05:42:48 AM »
Thanks for that - so much knowledge from these records! It's a lovely large-ish Henderson transfer, so I can only assume it was made for the down tube of a Henderson bicycle. Maybe Mr Henderson who had the bike shop in Heidelberg was involved with a renovation at some point. The fact that is was originally registered as a MS means I don't have to worry about it for the book.

Cheers, and thanks again,

Leon

Offline R

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #83 on: November 18, 2023, 07:01:31 AM »
No aussie made content !

Cute little Sun autocycle on FB
Dunno where the Sunbeam reference comes into it ... (no option to select Sun ?)

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/959836385298085/

Entries elsewhere would suggest this is the full Deluxe model.
You got the extra front suspension AND a fluted engine cover.

Offline R

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #84 on: November 18, 2023, 07:51:46 AM »
Note the XXA etc engine number (on the rego label).
Caught my eye ...

Offline cardan

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #85 on: November 18, 2023, 10:40:44 AM »
Ah yes - I actually came across a real Malvern Star at a "Show and Shine" here in SA a couple of weeks ago, and I had a close look. The first time I have actually examined one close up!

Although it was badged as "1945" it had an 8M frame prefix (on the seat lug), so 1948. The engine number was 586/9150 - the prefix as noted by 33d6 for the postwar Malvern Star models. I had a chat with the owner and the bike was purchased many years ago (say 25) in Queensland, so not sure where it was originally sold. Does it appear on your Victorian list 33d6?

It was very cute, and I enjoyed looking at the detail. Particularly the "low temperature welded" frame. It had been restored from a very original machine.

Cheers

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #86 on: November 20, 2023, 02:32:43 AM »
No, never registered in Victoria. The nearest number we have is 586/9759.
If the owner got it from Queensland we can only assume it spent its working life up there. Iím assuming it would have been sent up there as a batch in kit form to be assembled on site. It wouldnít have gone up by road back then and I canít see Bruce Small being silly enough to entrust assembled machines to three seperate State Railways.

Offline R

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #87 on: November 21, 2023, 09:59:29 PM »
It had been restored from a very original machine.

Do we spot a tinge of regret uttered there ?

And is that red likely to have been anything like original.
Or owner preference - as is so often the case these days ...

Offline Rex

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Re: Australian-made motorcycles in the 1950s - help please
« Reply #88 on: November 22, 2023, 09:18:41 AM »
Certainly lost the patina.
He ought to sort that saddle out too. :o