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Bédélia BD2 MG

The Bédélia came about completely by accident! In 1909, young Parisian engineering students Robert Bourbeau and Henri Devaux crashed their motorbike. The bike was a write-off, and with no money to have it repaired, they decided to build their own, using the wreck and any parts they could find. What they came up with was a cross between a wingless aeroplane and a motorcycle.

The narrow body could carry two passengers in tandem, with the passenger seated at the front, while the pilot sat in the rear. It had not been designed with any commercial purpose in mind, but soon became extremely popular, and mass-production of this curious car commenced. These two engineers thereby became the pioneers of the lightweight and inexpensive ‘cyclecar’ concept in France. The quirky car was named “Bédélia” after the engineers’ initials. The Bédélia proved more successful than many of its rivals, because its design was so simple and worked well.

Examples of the simple technology used includes steering by means of cables wound around a centre pulley and transmission by chains and belts. On early models changing gear required the driver to manually move the drive belt between pulleys. Later a grooved pulley was introduced which provided an early form of variable transmission. The power unit was a V Twin of their own design.

The Bédélia also proved to be very competitive in motor racing: numerous victories were gained both in France and Britain. Production ended shortly after World War I, but restarted in 1920 under new ownership. Between 1909 and 1925 a total 3000 of these very quirky vehicles were produced.

 

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