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The Scripps-Booth Prototype Cyclecar – The JB Rocket

The cyclecar fad in America was at its height between the years of 1910-14. Like many early vehicles produced here, it appears that the idea originated either in the UK or in Europe, where one of the reasons the lightweight cars were popular, as were motorcycles, was because of reduced taxes and registration fees. In this country without high taxes and registration fees, the machines were popular as a low cost way to get an automobile. Many of the cyclecars that were produced between 1910-2o sold for about $400 when the average lower-priced new car cost $750.


Left to right (above); an article in the Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal dating from late 1913 giving full details of the machine, and photo of the JB Rocket prototype in Detroit.

James Scripps Booth organized the Scripps-Booth Cyclecar Company in Detroit, Michigan, in May of 1913. The company then began the manufacture the “JB Rocket” (the prototype is seen here, from The Henry Ford), a small roadster, and a delivery model, the “Packet” were also produced. Despite the brisk sales of his cars, Booth realized that the cyclecar fad had run its course and sold the company in 1914. He began another venture, the Scripps-Booth Company which produced a very stylish light car. A previous adventure was the unusual Bi-Autogo we will try to cover in the future.

The production version differed in two ways from this prototype; The controls in the tandem-seat car were moved to the front and the Spacke engine was rotated 90 degrees with is crankshaft running front to back and the cylinders side to side. It was connected to a two-speed planetary transmission and then to the belt-drive on either side, which drove the machine.


A belt-driven fan and open hood sides helped to cool the prototype (left). The steering was a simple cable and pulley arrangement similar to that used on a boat (middle).


The patent drawings for the Spacke f-head vee-twin can be seen (above). Of special interest is the two-lever and cam arrangement to actuate the valves seen in the right hand photo.

The engine chosen was the Spacke Deluxe, a 35 c.i. 10 h.p. engine produced by the F. W. Spacke Machine Company of Indianapolis. The Spacke firm built air compressors, single and twin cylinder air and water cooled engines. Spacke also supplied others with engine components, transmissions and rear axles. In the late teens they even built their own cyclecar. You can learn more about the company and it products at and also see some of the other makers that used Spacke power plants.


The two advertisements from The Automobile during 1912 (above) show many of the parts the the company supplied to others.

The photos above are courtesy of the Henry Ford, where you can to learn all about the Henry Ford Museum and Dearborn Village. Many other photos from The Henry Ford, (scroll down) can also be seen here on The Old Motor.

9 responses to “The Scripps-Booth Prototype Cyclecar – The JB Rocket

  1. I saw quite a few Scripps Booth cars in the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine last summer. Including the Bi Autogo two wheeler.

  2. Hi David
    The JB is surely a copy of the Bedelia, as you featured on June 18th 2012.
    Same style, same layout, same rear suspension/belt tensioning.
    All the best, Mark

  3. What a beautiful car! I have an amazing Spacke cycle car motor that is 100% complete and runs. I hope to build a cyclecar for it someday.

    Jeff Castellari

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