1898 Phébus Motor Tricycle auctioned for £28,750
September 14, 2012
The British auctioneer firm Bonhams has sold an historic 1898 Phébus Motor Tricycle for £28,750 (US$45,635), which went to auction on the 8th September. The auctioned Phébus tricycle was previously bought in France in 2009 were it received a restoration by Mick Penney.
Penney replaced missing essential items such as the ignition timer and coil, exhaust silencer, camshaft and timing gears, as well as the control levers. To improve its performance the original surface carburetor was replaced with a period Longuemare spray carburetor.
The 2.75-hp motor tricycles were rose to fame when England’s first successful racing motorist, Charles Jarrott rode one, reaching the then astounding speed of 39 mph (63 km/h) at the Crystal Palace velodrome. In a similar fashion the French rider Beconnais won the Coupe des Motocycles de l'ACF in 1899 on a Phébus bicyclette, after covering 100 km (62 miles) in 1 hr 46 mins, at an average speed of 35.4 mph (57 km/h).
The 1898 Phébus tricycles were produced by a joint venture between the British and French companies Clément, Gladiator and Humber and featured a French-built Aster engine. Clément cycles had only started to focus on the production of motorized vehicles a few years earlier in 1895, when it produced its first internal combustion, naphtha-powered tricycle.