Two-Wheeled Cars

Gallery opened Sept 2003

Updated: 27 Jan 2018

More on the Monotrace
Only two wheels but no gyroscope


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These machines are not gyrocars; they are simply cars with only two wheels. Apparently such vehicles can be kept upright in much the same way as a motorcycle, so long as they are moving, but sooner or later you have to stop. Coming to a halt without falling over requires two small extra wheels that are lowered when stopping.


Left: The Monotrace 2-wheeled car

The Monotrace 2-wheeler was made in France from 1925 to 1928, under licence from Mauser of Germany. (Yes, that Mauser, the gun makers) It had two retractable stabiliser wheels. The passenger sat behind the driver (unlike the remarkable Sabella tandem car of 1913, where the driver sat behind the passenger)

It was powered by a 510cc single-cylinder 4-stroke engine. The water circulated through the small radiator at the front by thermo-syphon; there was no water pump.

Very few were made and even fewer survive today. La Monotrace was made in St. Etienne, France.

The Monotrace was steered by a curious sort of wheel/handlebar that made up only a small part of a circle. Here a bulb horn is attached to the upper part of the wheel/handlebar. No windscreen is fitted.

The 'Morgan' part of the name appears to be nothing to do with the British sports-car manufacturers, but the situation is currently not entirely clear.

This photograph was taken when the first production models were being demonstrated.

Left: The Monotrace 2-wheeled car

A Monotrace corners hard in some unknown sporting event, a stabiliser wheel jauntily cocked in the air.

Date & place unknown at present.

Left: The Monotrace car: a restored model from 1928

This picture by kind permission of the restorers: KOHLER AG, Riedtwil


Left: The Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo: 1912

The Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo could be considered to be the largest motorcycle ever built, or it could be regarded as a hefty 2-wheeled car. Given that it had a V8 engine and weighed 3200 pounds, (1,500 kg) I vote for the latter. Note the necessity for dual stabiliser wheels to take the weight. The two wheels were wooden-spoked and 37 inches in diameter. The engine was the first V8 produced in Detroit; however it only managed 45 HP from its 6-litre capacity. Power was transferred to the rear wheel by a four-speed manual gearbox. The Scripps had three seats and was steered with a normal steering-wheel.

The Scripps was a one-off project built from 1908 to 1912 by Detroit artist & engineer James Scripps-Booth.

Yes, that mass of tubing is the radiator. Given that most of the tubing is parallel to the air-flow, it cannot have been very efficient; perhaps that is why there is such a lot of tubing.

Left: The Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo: 1912

The Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo was preserved; it is currently on loan to the Owls Head Transportation Museum, from the permanent collection of the Detroit Historical Museum.

The Scripps has a Wikipedia page.


Left: The Cerreti Motocar: 1929

Apart from this image, the Cerreti is unknown to Google. Presumably it was Italian; there was an writer of motor car books around called Felice Cerreti.


Left: The Moore Car: date unknown.

The Moore Car gave you less car. Note the two stabilising wheels at the rear.

This car is also unknown to Google apart from the image.


Left: The Whitwood-OEC Monocar: 1934-36

A Whitwood Monocar, manufactured by the Osborn Engineering Company. This was founded by Frederick Osborn who began building bicycles, then turned to motorcycles in 1901, becoming a well-known manufacturer. The Whitwood was a two-wheel car with retractable outrigger wheels operated by a lever like a handbrake. It could be fitted with three engine models from 250 to 1000cc. It was built from 1934 to 1936, but it appears only six examples were built.

There is Wikipedia page on the Whitwood, though bizarrely it is in German. Google Translate is your friend.

Image from Whitwood brochure

Left: The Whitwood-OEC Monocar: 1934-36

Clearly legroom was a bit limited in the Whitwood. Not a good car for long journeys.

Image from Whitwood brochure

Left: Whitwood brochure text

Some very persuasive advertising copy here, but it does not seem to have helped sales.

Hopefully this will be readable to you all. No better version has so far been found.

Image from Whitwood brochure

Left: The Whitwood-OEC Monocar: 1934-36

The Whitwood had two seats with behind them a small luggage compartment. Initially, the engine was mounted under the front seat, but in 1935, a Mk II Whitwood was produced with the engine in the rear and improved steering. It had a plywood body and a removable hood with side-screens.

The text on this picture is unfortunately illegible. No better version of it appears to exist.


Left: The Verdon Roe car: 1948

The caption reads: "Mr E A Lawson in his NeraCar based FF machine in 19?8." The date has now been deciphered by Chuck Bencik, to whom many thanks, and it is definitely 1948. As Chuck pointed out, the style of the shirt-collar confirms this.

FF means Foot-Forward, and refers to a kind of motorcycle where the rider sits with feet ahead in a car-type sitting position, rather than with feet below and astride, as on normal motorcycles. The NeraCar (no, not my pun) was an FF motorcycle made in the USA from 1921 - 1926. Mr Lawson had therefore converted a machine that was already more than 20 years old.

It would appear that the bodywork was added by a company called Verdon Roe; they are unknown to Google. It was probably a one-off conversion.

Left: Two Neracars in Holland: 1931

The Neracar had a good reputation for reliability and stability, thanks to its low-slung frame and hub-centre steering. However, production ceased in 1926, five years before this picture.

It looks as though adding rudimentary bodywork to this motorcycle would be relatively straightforward, but the sides would have to be left open so you could get a foot to the ground on stopping, as in the Verdon Roe picture above.

Left: A Neracar in a museum: 1921

The Neracar was produced in several forms in both the USA and the UK. The first models had a single-cylinder two-stroke engine of only 221 cc and a friction-drive transmission that gave five ratios.

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