One of the attractions at VSCC Colerne and other venues has been the active appearances of Roger Smith’s excellent replica ABC-engined propeller-driven rear-axlesteered Leyat saloon cyclecar. I hope we shall see it running again, this season. I have just discovered that some two years before the French-built Leyat became known here, someone had constructed a propeller-propelled cyclecar of his own concept. Ahead of a skiff-like open aluminium two-seater body shell with a vee-windscreen he had mounted a 10hp twin-cylinder horizontally-opposed air-cooled engine, make not known, driving a wooden two-bladed propeller enclosed for safety in a wire-mesh cage.
That was about all this simple vehicle required, because clutch, gearbox, even flywheel, could be dispensed with. Small wire wheels running independently were covered with tiny cycle-type mudguards. Each had a brake, made I suspect from motorcycle components. Suspension was by very supple half-elliptic springs. The builder found that at first he and his passenger acquired severe headaches from the noise made by the airscrew, but he soon became immune. Apart from that and dust raised on hills by the downwash of the slipstream, it all seems to have worked quite well. Speed was slow to develop from a standstill until the prop “bit the air” but on a still day a top speed of 50mph was claimed, after which it could be throttled back. On a 300mile tour, fully loaded, no troubles were experienced and it was thought unnecessary to have a spare wheel, because, taking no driving stresses, tyre wear was minimal. If required, a variable-pitch propeller would have provided something of the effect of having a gearbox, although the inherent simplicity would then be somewhat impaired.
At the time, in 1922, there was some discussion about such vehicles, but like the two-stroke engine (unless engineers manage to solve the pollution question) and air-cooling they belong to the past. WB