To the best of my knowledge, the Cyclomobile was my grandfather's first venture into the field of automotive design. The first prototype was constructed in 1917 or 1918, this despite a company flyer that stated that the Cyclomobile Manufacturing Company had been manufacturing small and inexpensive cars since 1912. Apparently, with so many groups of dubious capability attempting to make inroads into the auto business, it seemed like a good idea to assure prospective buyers and investors that the company had been prospering for some time. In line with this thinking, the first Cyclomobile was called the model G even though there had been no previous models.
The advertising flyer, the only one known to exist, described the three outstanding features of the Cyclomobile to be the list price ($395), the extreme light weight (750 lbs) and the economical cost of up-keep ($4 per week, including fuel which averaged 46-50 miles per gallon). These latter figures were supposedly obtained from a six-thousand mile test of one of the prototypes. The flyer states that three models were being produced on the same chassis; a one passenger (no information has been found concerning this model), a two passenger (model G, 120 inches length overall) and a light delivery truck with a capacity of about four hundred pounds (the Manexall).
The Cyclomobile and the Manexall were powered by a 2-cylinder air-cooled V-type Spacke engine of 1,120cc. Ignition was by a storage battery and an Atwater Kent distributor. Horsepower varied from nine to thirteen. Both vehicles used friction drive, power being transmitted to the rear axle by a heavy chain. The Spacke engine was produced by the Spacke Machine & Tool Company of Indianapolis, Indiana. Spacke had been manufacturing compressors, engines, transmissions, gears and axles since 1900. The Spacke Company was a popular engine supplier of engines for small cars and motorcycles at that time. An unusual feature of the Cyclomobile and Manexall was a locking ratchet which kept both clutch faces secured together while the vehicles were in gear. It was released by a tap on the clutch pedal.
Probably the most ingenuous device on either vehicle was a mechanical self-starter designed by my grandfather. Other automobile owners of the time risked a broken arm each time they turned the crank to start their car. Women seldom became involved in this activity at all. My grandfather's design involved an arm mounted on a sprocket connected to the front of the crank shaft. A cable mounted to the dashboard allowed the vehicle to be started from inside the car, the hand crank being eliminated altogether. Standard equipment on the Cyclomobile included two electric lights, a kerosene tail lamp, a jack, an air pump and a set of tools. The windshield, top and spare tire were optional.
The Cyclomobile was advertised as 'Everybody's Car', appealing to the man living in the suburbs who was required to travel to his office in the city, but which on Sundays and holidays could be used by the businessman to "tour the country with his wife or best girl." The Manufacturers and Exporters Alliance of New York was chosen as factory distributor. In 1919 the Cyclomobile Vice-President, Thomas Davies, reported that the entire production for 1920 and 1921 consisting of more than 20,000 vehicles had been contracted for by the Manufacturers and Exporters Alliance. Unfortunately, the Cyclomobile executives were unable to obtain sufficient capital to provide adequate production facilities to support contracted sales and the company failed by 1921.