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The Car, The most Popular Mans Toy ever invented.

 Three hundred and fifty years ago, the first steam-powered vehicle, supposedly as a toy, was created for the Chinese Emperor.


Approximately two hundred & fourteen years later Karl Benz introduced the Benz Patent Motorwagen, Powered by petrol, The internal Combustion engine. 

This article is about The ultimate Boys Toy (or one of them). It involves the history and development of our modern-day transport: research, the evolution, the ownership, the pride and the showing of a classic vintage vehicle. The Hobbyist Searching for authenticity, finding the correct parts, if necessary, machining specific long lost parts.

And taking it for a drive to the local car show on a weekend


1914 Twombly Cyclecar

 Driggs-Seabury Ordinance Corp Pennsylvania     Owned by: Mervyn and Margaret Kroll- Brisbane 

One of three known remaining world wide

 A number of auto makers manufactured these unique vehicles to address the needs of buyers who were looking for a means of transportation lower in cost than conventional automobiles.  Additionally, registration taxes were based on vehicle weight and engine displacement. Lighter in weight and with smaller, less powerful engines, Cyclecars were less costly to buy and taxed at a lower rate.

 Typical Cyclecar such as one type  which was manufactured by the Pennsylvania firm of Driggs-Seabury Ordinance from 1913 to 1915 had a two seats in tandem displacement and an under slung body. Cyclecars of various manufacture were all powered by either a single cylinder, V-Twin, a four cylinder or a motorcycle engine.

Note that the tandem two-seater configuration and engine type gave the impression that the vehicle was actually a hy

brid type of motorcycle-automobile combination.

Cyclecars enjoyed a limited popularity for a time and were even entered in races restricted to these vehicles

. During the brief heyday of the Cyclecars, they were manufactured in many countries such as Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Spain, France and England. In fact, the most prolific producers of Cyclecars were the English.


Cyclecars were inexpensive automobiles, a cross between a car and a motorcycle. Cyclcars were made in the early 1900s.

The concept was that this type of vehicle offered the promise of mobility for everyone. "Speeds up to 50 miles per hour". But the Ford Model T proved to be "the car for the masses." By 1915 Twombly's company was bankrupt.

Fortunately, there are still a few Cyclacars about, owned and restored by enthusiasts.

Some specifications

Motor  "Twombly" type'A' 4 cylinder, 4 cycle, water cooled, cast en bloc, thermosyphon system. 12-14 H.P Positive oiling mechanical valves located on the left  side of motor. High grade Bronze bearings throughout.

Transmission "Twombly"Straight faced friction with 2 speed  drive shaft and single chain drive to rear axle, giving 6 speeds forward and 2 reverse. Bearings of high grade Bronze

Rear Axle  "Twombly" Live unbreakable type  differential  and solid shaft from wheel to wheel, differential casting acting as emergency brake. Axle          surrounded by seamless steel tube. Hyatt roller bearings  Exclusively.

Front axle - Drop forged I beam section, chrome nickel steel bearings. Bearings annular ball.

Suspension  "Twombly" underslung giving low centre of gravity and perfect balance.

Frame  - Pressed steel channel section

Springing System. Rear - Cantilever 36 inches long

             Front - Semi elliptic,30 inches long.

Wheels  8x2 1/2 extra heavy wire

Tyres   Extra heavy clincher non-skid rear - Corrugated front.

Brakes Service, on different case. Transmission acts as  powerful emergency brake

Gas Tank In cowl, 5 gallon capacity.

Ignition Heinze high tension magneto.

Carburetor. Longuemare

Lubrication - Splash and force feed

Radiator.  Cellular, nickel.

Steering "Twombly" adjustable gear steering wheel 14                        inches. Irreversible worm and sector.

Control  Hand and foot. Gas throttle lever on dash and  foot throttle accelerator. Contracting brake band on  differential casing. Transmission can be used as a   powerful emergency brake'

Wheelbase 100 inches

Road clearance  9 1/2 inches - Weight  600 pounds

Stock Colour Sulphur Yellow with black and nickel trimming.

Equipment . includes two oil side lights and one tail lamp. Horn and complete set of tools.


Top   One man top with envelope and side curtains $25  Windshield    $12    

Speedometer $12

Electric lighting - 2 head lights.- 1 tail lamp, -   Storage battery and dimmer,- independent push buttons


The demise of the Cyclecar was hastened by the Ford Motor Company’s Model T. Ford advertised the Model T’s advantages over the Cyclecar one of which was the Ford being sold at a price very near to the Cyclecar. Additionally, the Model T offered superior comfort and roadability. By the early 1920s, the Cyclecar was but a curious memory.


I photographed this car at the OZ 2000 International Rally  held by the Brisbane Vintage Auto Club.

Mervyn Had most of the details and specification to hand.

Pat Davis