Some years ago Motor Sport tested the Bond Minicar and reported on it enthusiastically, considering that in the course of this test the flywheel magneto shed a vital wire, a steering-pulley fell off and was commandeered by some passing Sea Scouts, a wheel split in half, the plug burnt out, and the clutch cable broke.
Last month we had occasion to spend a fortnight with the latest Bond Mk. C, which is a much improved little vehicle. Comfort has been improved by suspending the back wheels on bonded rubber units and the windscreen no longer goes opaque due to the stretching action of the wiper blade, as it is now of glass.
The 197cc. one-pot, two-cycle Villiers air-cooled engine gives 8.4 b.h.p. at 4,000 r.p.m, but is so low geared that it seems to be turning at twice this speed at an indicated 40 m.p.h. cruising speed. This sets up a very considerable racket and some vibration, but the game little unit doesn’t appear to suffer, providing it is fed half a pint of oil per gallon of petrol (cost 5s.3d. per gallon, using cheap petrol). It did hesitate once or twice, possibly due to a dirty plug, but never actually ceased work. Plug trouble seems a thing of the past and overheating doesn’t occur in spite of the alloy head being partially blanked by the mounting-plate for the belt-drive starter. For emergencies there is a foot-operated de-compressor and a kickstarter on the engine. (The plug on the car tested was a Champion L-10.) It does something like 60 m.p.g. on No.1 petrol, giving a tankful-range of about 150 miles, which is about as far as a Bond owner is likely to want to go at one sitting. The tank is difficult to refuel from a can.
The three-speed gearbox is controlled by a rigid steering-column lever with which the gears can be selected, quadrant fashion, without undue difficulty, if without finesse, the different locations being somewhat evasive, neutral especially so, and brutality sometimes called for to get bottom speed—against which the mechanism is apparently proof.
The clutch is feather-light, but the steering is heavy and jerky, although the geared mechanism is productive of greater peace of mind than the former cables-over-pulleys. With hood up and side-curtains erect the Bond Minicar is very effectively weatherproof, at the expense of contortions becoming necessary for entry and egress through the single (near-side) door.
The cruising speed is about 40 m.p.h., pick-up from rest is brisk, and if the ride is lively this three-wheeler feels essentially safe.
Having to visit H.R.Godfrey at the H.R.G. works, from Hampshire, we felt it appropriate to make the 29-mile journey in a cyclecar and took the Bond; it averaged a shade under 30 m.p.h.
The passenger accommodation of the Bond Mk.C de luxe is sensible—three abreast if need be on the bench seat and two children able to face one another in hammock seats behind, all under the hood. Dummy front wings, accommodating the lamps, enhance the impression of being in a four-wheeler.
The only instrument is the speedometer, with total milometer, which can be illuminated at night. There is an effective, but dazzling, exterior rear-view mirror, and a large back window in the hood. The glass-fibre bonnet is released by using a carriage key and when lifted all the mechanism is revealed. The electric starter works every time and is a vast improvement on the hand-starter of the earlier model. A tiny tumbler switch extinguishes the off-side headlamp as an anti-dazzle measure, but the lamps are feeble. Moreover, no modern car can be possessed of less powerful brakes.
However, the speed of the Bond isn’t great and it weighs only 5 cwt. 1 qr. unladen. It is a vehicle with many uses and the acme of operational economy.
Michelin tyres on the tiny (4.00-8) wheels inspire confidence and the Bond is amongst that class of vehicle which offers the advantages of those cyclecars of the early nineteen-twenties with most of the snags ironed out—although the larger engines and wheels of those days presumably meant lower revs, and a less lively ride. Life would be less droll without our modern minicars.
Incidentally, the Bond has a fantastic steering lock and with a wheelbase of only 5 ft. 6 in. can be steered so as to poke its pivoted power-unit pretty well up its own exhaust pipe. We wonder who holds the lap-record for this manoeuvre; the Editor would like to present a cup (china, tea, for the use of) to anyone who attains full cruising-speed on full lock!
The Bond Mk.C costs £299 15s., inclusive of p.t, in deluxe Family form, and the annual tax is £5. There is also a standard Family model priced at £284 10s. 5d., inclusive, and a three-seater utility version at £259 10s., or £284 10s. 5d. in de luxe form. The 3 cwt Minitruck costs £274 12.6d. It is made by Sharpes Commercial. of Preston, Lancashire.—W. B.