Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Bond Minicar.

During the mid 1950's Britain became involved in military action in the middle east (sound familiar?) in what became known as the 'Suez crisis'.
The upshot for the many motorists at home was a scarcity of fuel, with many garages running dry.
Since the end of WWII there had been a number of attempts to create small, fuel efficient cars in Europe and the UK, many seemed hopelessly inadequate even for the most cost cautious of motorists, and some were downright dangerous. One company that did thrive however was the Bond company

The mini-car came as a four seater, (though I would hate to be the one forced to sit in the rear) and was powered by a small single cylinder air-cooled two stroke motor. Originally there was no self starter, and the car had to be started by lifting the bonnet and with one leg inside the engine compartment the owner would then kick start the car!

Despite the glamorous photographs, the reality was that these glass fibre bodied 'three wheelers'
were basic in the extreme, the interior offering little more than the bare basics.

Despite this they were popular and I remember as a kid in the early 1960's seeing and hearing many on the roads as I walked to school (which was my main 'car spotting' time!) I could always tell when one was approaching by the distinctive 'Pop Popping' of the exhaust note, and as they passed by the air filled with the aroma of two stroke oil which was mixed with petrol to make the Villiers engine run!

Today these cars are highly prized by collectors and have many avid fans. There are special clubs and meetings to cater just for the Microcar genre. One of the great things about seeing something like this after all these years is that the moment I hear that two-stroke drone and the pop-pop on the over run I am transported back in time, I am six years old again, and I still feel that same excitement today that I did so long ago.

The painting at the top of the post is a departure from my usual depictions of rust and ruin, primarily as these cars were glass fibre they didn't rust! I did however manage to find a photo of a rather tired looking example!


Viewliner Ltd. said...

Remarkable vehicle! What style.

Dave Formby said...

I had one between 1963 and 1967. very safe to drive but was starting to get out paced by modern cars. Does anyone know of an example in Australia?

Martyn said...

Great article but as a prior owner of a 1954 MkD Bond, just a small correction - the bodies were made from aluminium alloy not glass-fibre. The brakes were atrocious as they were mechanical rods and cables, hydraulics came on the later models.

The Old Nail said...

Thanks for that Martyn, and how interesting that they were aluminium! I had always assumed that they were fibreglass due to the later Bond and reliant models using the stuff.