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British Motorcycles

British Salmson Aero Engines

of Raynes Park, London, SW20
  • British Salmson was established in 1930 in Raynes Park, London to make engines for light aircraft. From 1934 to 1939 they also made a range of cars. With the outbreak of World War II they turned to general engineering.
  • The French Salmson company had started a British branch company, Moteurs Salmson, as an aero engine maker for the British Empire market. This was taken over by British owners in 1930 and renamed British Salmson Aero Engines Ltd. Formerly these engines were made by the Dudbridge Iron Works.
  • They do not appear to have been very successful in getting orders and in 1934 started making the French Salmson S4C car under licence.
  • The British S4C had the same twin overhead camshaft, 1,471 cc, four cylinder engine and chassis as its French parent but the gearbox was updated to include synchromesh on the top two ratios. The coachwork was to a British design and was available in four door saloon, sports saloon, open tourer and drophead coupé versions bought in from Ranalah or Newns. Two engines were offered, the single carburettor 12/55 and the tuned, twin carburettor 12/70. The latter was claimed to take the car to 80 mph (130 km/h). About 230 are estimated to have been made.
  • In 1937 the engine was enlarged to 1596 cc and the car became the S4D. Hydraulic brakes and transverse spring independent front suspension were fitted. The new car was heavier than the superseded S4C and in spite of the larger engine, there was no significant increase in performance. A curved back saloon and drophead coupé were offered. About 75 were made, production stopping in 1938.
  • The S6D or 20/90 of 1936 to 1939 had no French equivalent. The engine was a six cylinder unit of 2580 cc, still with twin overhead cams and the car was available as either Sports Saloon, 2 seater sports or drophead coupé. A maximum speed of nearly 90 mph was claimed. Bendix cable brakes were fitted to the first few cars but later ones had Lockheed hydraulics. About 15 were made up to the outbreak of war.
  • Car production did not re-start after the war but a few small 31 cc engines for converting bicycles were made. The company eventually moved to Glasgow where they made printing machinery.
  • 1937 Aero engines.

Cyclaid was a motorcycle produced from 1950 to 1955, by British Salmson at Raynes Park, London.

It was a 31cc two-stroke, clip-on engine that sat over the rear wheel of a bicycle, which was driven by belt. The unit was all-alloy with horizontal cylinder, flywheel magneto and the petrol tank fitted above. The engine drove a counter-shaft carrying the belt pulley and the whole unit was spring loaded to maintain belt tension. It remained on the market for as long as the fashion dictated and worked well.

Sources: Grace's Guide



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