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The Three-Wheeled Bond Minicar – Low Cost Post-War Transportation

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  • A Bond Mark A Minicar in New Zealand in 1950

Three-wheeled mini cars are often built for economic reasons and low initial and operating costs. Because the pint-sized cars in many countries are often classified as motorcycles, this often results in lower registration and tax fees. The image above shows a Bond Mark A that was built between 1949 and 1951. The photograph was taken in 1950 and it appeared in the Evening Post newspaper that was based in Wellington, New Zealand. The photo is courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand.

Watch the video above as a French enthusiast Jean – Mare Navarro puts his 1960 Bond Mark F Minicar through its paces. Being a simple two-stroke without a reverse gear, at 2:15 he demonstrates how the engine is shut off and started up in the reverse direction for backing up; the early models were not equipped for reversing and had to be pushed or manhandled.

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  • Detail photos of a Mark C Bond Minicar courtesy of the Bond Owners Club

The first Bond Minicar was designed by Lawrence Bond, who had a background in aircraft design and component manufacture. The manufacturing of the new car started in 1949 and was handled by Sharp’s Commercials Limited in Preston, Lancashire, England. The inexpensive car soon became popular in the trying post-war economy and this model continued on until the Mark G ceased production in December 1966. More information can be found at the Bond Owners Club.

The postcard photo below is via Retronaut and shows a Mark C that was built at some point between October of 1952 and May of 1956. This model featured a steerable tubular mounting for the 197cc engine and three-speed transmission, which drove the swing-arm mounted front wheel by a roller chain.


9 responses to “The Three-Wheeled Bond Minicar – Low Cost Post-War Transportation

  1. Oh my God, it’s another three wheeler. What is it about the Brits and three wheeled cars? Oh well, the music to the video is cool. Kind of spy movie like.

  2. Embarrassing really, to admit that we Brit’s made them, but quirky fun! It shows our innovation when the Government tries to extract extra taxes and impose more regulations. In this instance it was the extra road tax and purchase tax on “cars”–deemed to be vehicles with four wheels– and driving licences in that you could only drive a “car” at 17 but drive a motorcycle and sidecar on a motor cycle licence at 16 years old. So you could drive a drive three wheeled vehicle, like a Bond, on a motorcycle and cram the poor family in. And the fact that we were broke for years after the War and materials for export were given priority.

    • So Nick, I take it you’re British. If so, why is it that the British populist continue to tolerate tax on top of taxes? Don’t get me wrong, thing aren’t much better here in the States, especially CA. and N.Y. Just seems that the royals are still calling the shots when it comes to things like tax and regulations. BTW the cleverness of the Englishmen how do come up with stuff like this, while quirky, is most admirable.

  3. Family Safety Car?? How so? Those types of 3-wheelers were anything but safe. A look at some of the shenanigans on Top Gear will clearly show why putting a family in a convert Bond was about as safe as Russian Roulette! At least the old 3 wheel Morgans ha it right (two in front, one in back…

  4. Wow. Just like my my MGB. Same Smiths speedo with the pointer jumping all over the place, same crummy windshield wipers. Well, not exactly, since the MGB did have a reverse gear. At 285 pounds, it wasn’t that cheap either. Amazing that it made it until 1966.

  5. I saw one on a drag strip in the early 60s in Phoenix AZ. I think they used a calendar to determine the ET. My 1949 Hillman Minx could have whipped it in the quarter mile, but not by much.

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