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A Briggs and Stratton “Flyer” on the Streets of Boston

The A.O. Smith and Briggs and Stratton “Flyers” rate at as one of the most unusual “baby cars” cars produced in the teens and twenties. The cute little vehicle was first produced by Smith in Milwaukee between the years of 1915 and 1918 and then followed by Briggs and Stratton between 1919 and 1925 after buying the design from Smith.

This image with an attractive and well-dressed young woman behind the wheel was taken in 1920 by Leslie Jones and is is courtesy of the Boston Public Library.

Learn more about the “Flyer” in earlier coverage of the “Auto Red Bug” story.

  • 1915 patent application drawing for R.S. Smith’s “motor carrying tractor unit.”

Smith-Motor-Wheel-Patent-1

5 responses to “A Briggs and Stratton “Flyer” on the Streets of Boston

  1. I grew up in Milwaukee, and while clearly, these were before my time, so I don’t know enough them, except a pretty cool idea, but I can say Briggs and Stratton and A.O. Smith were huge in Milwaukee. Everybody knew someone that worked for either one. They were massive employers. This was kind of an oddball venture for A.O. Smith, as they were more well known for their car frames and water heaters ( among many other products) The A.O. Smith facility on 27th-35th Street and Capitol Dr. took up many city blocks. I remember car frames stacked , what appeared to a kid, to the sky. Briggs and Stratton, same thing. Huge facility on 124th and Burleigh. Turned out literally thousands of motors every shift. My uncle worked there for like 40 years. The demand for small motors was so high, they worked 3 shifts, 7 days a week. Sadly, A.O.Smith has all but been torn down, and a housing development and probably shopping, will go in, like the Allis Chalmers, and AMC areas, and Brigg’s has been reduced to a skeleton crew from what it was, and their massive parking lot is now a strip mall. Amazing how Milwaukee has changed in the last 50 years.

  2. Hmmm. Okay, but what is not mentioned here is that adults also used these little vehicles. Furthermore, the motor unit was actually developed to power a bicycle. These bicycle motorizing units were commonly known as “Smith Motor Wheels.”

  3. I didn’t notice the fifth wheel at first. I had to go back and look after reading further. I knew these drive wheels propelled bicycles back in the day, but didn’t know there were cars equipped as well.

    That Flyer was probably the Bug-Eyed Sprite of it’s day.

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