Italian baby takes first steps

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Among the surviving cyclecars which have come out of obscurity in recent times, none can be more rare or more ugly, as its present keeper Bill Wallbank willingly accepts, than the MV Bambino, circa 1920/21. He recently started it up for the first time since 1950 and drove it, if only round his garden.

It was a product of Boltri Di Mezzi Ganda & Co of Milan, who made this Motovetturette Vaghi after the end of the First World War, hoping, it seems, to sweep the British and other motor-starved markets with it, perhaps influenced by the success achieved by the Morgan three-wheeler from Malvern. It was a car-like device, except for the single front wheel extending from its nose. The vee-twin air-cooled engine of 72x130mm (970cc) at the front under the conventional bonnet ran up to 1800rpm. It was started by kick-starter, ignition washy Bosch magneto, and a speed of 60mph was claimed. The tubular frame had half:elliptic springing and was well made. This odd new cyclecar arrived in the UK in 1921 and it survived certainly up to 1924, when a larger 78×115 (1099cc) engine was available. In 1923, following several other tricar makes, the Vaghi was made as a four-wheeler but with no more marketable success. The lone example owned by Wallbank was unearthed by the late Cecil Bendall in Westcliffe-on-Sea and driven back to Hitchin, after which he advertised it in MOTOR SPORT in 1950.