When you think of early three wheelers around the era of the 1930s, I’m guessing most of us think of the Morgan. It’s pretty widely known, it has been replicated by a number of kit car companies and Morgan itself has recently brought it back into production. There were others, however, and this 1934 BSA, currently for sale on eBay, is a fine example. I don’t recall seeing one of these for sale before and looking closer, there are some interesting points.
Among the items they produced, BSA made a wide range of motorcycles over the many years they were in business, and also a range of both 3 and 4 wheel cars. The three wheelers were produced between 1929 and 1936, the end came as a result of changes to the way vehicles were taxed evidently taking away any advantage 3 wheelers had.
The BSA three wheelers were powered by a Hotchkiss 90 degree V-Twin engine, a name which meant nothing to me, at least in terms of engines, so I went digging and came across a rather long story of how they came about. The engine has one piece cast iron cylinders and barrels with inclined valves in a hemispherical combustion chamber, which is pretty fancy compared to the other early motorcycle and car engines. It drives the front wheels through a 3 speed transmission. The seller of this particular car says it’s an 1100cc engine, though the article linked above says they were 900cc, perhaps they increased displacement in later years.
The BSA included items the Morgan offered as options, electric start, though there seems to be a spot for a hand crank, and extra weather protection, plus 3 speeds compared to 2 in the Morgan. Another claim in the article is that the BSA outsold the Morgan by a wide margin, something I wasn’t aware of. It’s interesting the Morgan is better known today, perhaps they developed a more devoted following in later years.
I think the Morgan had better looks, the BSA seems rather plain, the Morgan a bit more sporty, but I have a hunch buyers in those years were more interested in how well the car met their needs as opposed to the envious glances it would draw parked in their driveway.
Whatever the case, the BSA is another example of the 3 wheelers of the day and this one looks like it’s in very good condition. It would be a nice addition to someone’s British vehicle collection. Neat!
Link: BSA 3 wheeler on eBay