1951 Sharp's Commercial Motorised Unicycle
A very strange and unusual project emerged from Ribbleton Lane in late 1951, ready for the Earls Court Motor Cycle Show in November. This was the Motorised 'Unicycle' and it was revealed to the public on stand number 70, alongside the Sharp's Commercial 3 cwt.
The 'Unicycle' was essentially a full-width Mark C type of aluminium bulkhead fitted with a headstock, worm and sector steering arrangement, a downtube and a 250 cc four stroke Brockhouse engine with an Albion gearbox providing 3 forward gears and a reverse. The fuel tank (of unspecified capacity) was rigidly mounted above the cylinder head.
After describing the general specification, the sales sheet goes on to say: 'In order, therefore, to motorise any platform waggon or body, all that is necessary is to screw on the Sharp's Commercials Motorised 'UNICYCLE' by means of four bolts, fill up with petrol and drive away'. Starting was by means of the kick-starter or 'Can be converted to hand starting when placed inside a delivery truck'.
The idea of selling a complete motorised package which simply 'bolted on' to a truck or platform must have been quite a new idea in those post-war years. However, the reality of the situation only has to be imagined to visualize all the potential problems! Bolting on the bulkhead, filling up with petrol and starting the 'Unicycle' would have been the easy part. Reading through the sheet under the heading of 'Controls' it mentions: 'Foot or hand operated brake, clutch and accelerator'. Under the 'Brake' heading, the description reads: 'Internal expanding, operated by rod or cable according to requirements'.
So basically, customers were left to design and make their own set of controls. The thoughts of poorly engineered vehicles where accelerator cables would simply be yanked to increase engine revs. spring to mind! How about customer-designed brake linkages falling apart or failing whilst travelling down the local High Street at 50 m.p.h.! What the Ministry of Transport of the day would have thought of such vehicles has not been recorded anywhere but the comments can easily be guessed! No price is mentioned on the sales sheet, but single or double headlamps, a 6 volt battery, horn and electric wipers were all advertised as 'extras'. Only one Unicycle unit is believed to have been built.