1953 Glass-fibre Oscar scooter

During the 1950s a number of prototype British scooters were made that unfortunately did not reach full production, some of these are detailed below.  One of the first prototypes was  by Projects and Development Ltd of Blackburn and given the name Oscar and shown at both the 1953 German Frankfurt and London Earls Court Shows.  The scooter had an elegant streamlined body in glass-fibre with a 122cc or 197cc Villiers engine.  This was the first scooter to have a fan cooled Villiers engine and it also had some novel features including linked brakes, and a hand start for the smaller engine and an electric start for the 197cc unit.  It is thought six Oscar scooters were made and two of the prototypes are known to exist with British scooter collectors.

At the 1954 London Earls Court Show the Harper Aircraft Company Ltd of Exeter displayed their Harper Scootomobile.  This scooter was developed from an earlier machine called the Saharan that its designer ‘Spike’ Rhiando took on a test drive to Cape Town via the Sahara desert!  The Harper was another streamlined glass-fibre scooter with a Villiers 122cc engine or a 197cc with electric start.  The scooter had twin headlamps up front and two integral pannier bags on the rear bodywork.  Although potential customers waited two years with various updates and reports in the scooter press the luxury Harper never reach production.  It is reported six Scootomobiles were made and just one has survived and now on show in the Hayes Museum in Somerset.

Saharan & Harper

1952 Saharan ready for a trip to the Sahara & 1954 Harper with a 197cc Villiers engine

BSA Beeza

BSA Beeza at the 1955 London Show

The large BSA Group displayed two scooters at the 1955 London Earls Court Show, the small BSA Dandy went into production in 1957 but the large BSA Beeza never got passed the prototype stage.  The Beeza was a good looking scooter with a 200cc four-stroke side valve engine and large diameter wheels with attractive white-wall tyres.  Following a favourable reaction at the Show the management stated the Beeza would be in production by April 1956, however by December that year BSA admitted the scooter would not go into production as intended, it was said the price would not be competitive with Continental scooters.  It would be late 1958 before the BSA Group had a similar machine – the BSA Sunbeam/Triumph Tigress – on the road.

DMW 175cc

A smart 175cc DMW scooter

There were over ten British prototype scooters/scooterettes in the 1950s from individuals and small companies along with a DMW 175cc scooter in 1959 and a number of glass-fibre bodied machines made by Progress Supreme in 1957 based on the German Progress scooter.  Not being able to get some of these larger touring scooters to market in the early/mid 1950s did not bode well for the British motor scooter industry.