The father of the kart: The Cyclecar.
The ultimate budget DIY experience for petrolheads is far closer than you think!
"Omega Husky" is a freelance writer who writes articles in his spare time and works making automotive reviews, writing about unusual cars, playing videogames... Oh is he a dog behind the screen? Probably... why you don`t scratch my ears and find out? ^_^
when they tell me that there is nothing cheaper than a 3k€ kart in terms of cheap experiences for young petrolheads I can`t help but think of the requirements for them, you require a trailer or rent one, and of course the safety equipment for it alongside a big deal of space for it and since not many people have the luxury of space in cities like London… I can assure you that you can have the same amounts of fun for 1.5k€ with a machine that is completely hand-built by yourself!
Never panic though… they aren`t extremely expensive but they do require just a bit of basic bricolage knowledge and of course… the will to enjoy building one until it finally rolls out of the garage on fully working order.
-what is a Cyclecar?
A hundred years ago as ICE vehicles were getting more larger and complex petrol heads needed a vehicle that could be simple and of course cheap for them, simple cars that could fill between the simplicity of a motorcycle and the commodities of a car
A cyclecar it`s basically a kart built with thin radial motorcycle wheels, it is also characterized by the use of inexpensive materials and of course a lot of dodgy DIY engineering which involves a lot of use of manual tools like the old trusty hammer and a long number of rivets and possible welding for the most daring ones, it also comes with a plus of learning almost the whole swearing dictionary. And a lot of visits to the local scrap yard for parts and bartering, they also pack tiny engines within them, either small 2 or four-stroke engines that can reach up to 10hp sitting just right behind the driver connected to the rear wheels via a clutch pack or if you feel brave… a centrifugal torque converter
They also lack fancy factory stuff like your average Mercedes, but still they have little luxuries like a modest leaf spring setup or none at all paired with a pretty primitive direct steering rack that is linked to the front axle of the car which sits on the DIY box-shaped steel frame all covered by a shell of fiberglass, sheet metal, wood or directly scrap metal from the junkyard weighing up to a maximum of 110kg making them into pretty agile machines full of thrill.
Just knowing what`s under… I`ll take a gamble and say that even with 5.5hp and 110kg of weight reaching 60kph with them is certainly thrilling even if your average used racecar can go faster than that, 60kph is also faster than a very basic cheap second hand battered kart.
This makes cyclecars vehicles that are pretty accessible to the masses with simple bricolage knowledge... and what happens when people get hands on cheap DIY fun? Well, it isn`t long until they start racing their very own machines for fun!
Cyclecars had a racing series.
Just like karts have racing series the cyclecars had racing series which date back in 1913, the very Grand Prix for cyclecars was held in France and it took place on le mans back in 1920, thanks to WW1 there was a lot of technological advancements regarding production technologies which allowed large automakers to cut down manufacturing costs on cyclecars, two simple examples of one are the Citröen Type C and Austin 7 however despite the thrills of many cyclecars going around a track just like we like watching FE it didn`t quite take off and the cyclecar era ended abruptly occasionally being built and raced on unofficial events, built on American garages as pastimes for kids and their parents alike until the kart era was eventually arriving born on plane hangars and bored jet pilots who had nothing better to do to pass time.
Cyclecars are so far an inexpensive form of fun for petrol heads, they`re also pretty fast for their size and pretty agile, I could say they are certainly the perfect mix of a vintage-looking racecar, a kart and an open-wheel vehicle, the cyclecar community is also pretty friendly and even has a lot of forums to aid many people on their adventure of looking for cheap thrills, drivers of cyclecars also make their own pilot names (Most likely for the vintage feeling cyclecars give when you look at them)
So… if you feel like experiencing the thrills of a kart packed with the beautiful shape of a vintage racing car and a little engine on the back as you drive down a residential street at 60kph letting everyone looking at you in awe… you certainly NEED to build a cyclecar, fun is cheap and pretty accesible for everyone.