Remembering the Bubble Cars...

Hi, being retired and with time on my hands, I thought I might open another thread of reminiscences on the subject of transport, and in particular 3 wheelers. Like most 16 year olds of the late 1960's, I aspired to own a motorcycle.

This ambition was however not to be realised as my Mother, a nursing sister, had worked for some years on a neuro-surgery ward in the years before crash helmets were mandated. By way of compensation, my Father bought me a bubble car, and I joined the small fraternity of 3 wheeler drivers in the Price's sixth form.

My vehicle was a red "Trojan", the UK marketed right hand drive version of the Heinkel bubble car. One of my 6th form compatriots from Sarisbury Green had a blue LHD Heinkel (was his name Ed Warwick? can't be sure). Then there was Stribley with his red BMW Isetta, formerly owned by "Fred" Barker who taught us maths. The most exotic 3 wheeler was a Berkley Sports driven by I think John Cope?? From the front, the Berkley Sports looked akin to a frog-eyed sprite, and had I think a twin 2-stroke motorcycle engine under the bonnet. It was definitely the beauty of the bunch when compared to it's three visually challenged, bulbous, sisters. 

I regularly drove to and from school "3-up" in the Trojan, with Andy Richards sharing the bench front seat and Phil Hanham doing a passable Quasimodo impression on the single rear seat cum parcel shelf. No seat belts of course! We could manage 60mph despite the miniscule 150cc power plant. The clutch cable broke on the way to one of my 'A' levels leaving me to drive the rest of the way through Fareham by "crashing" the gears! The windscreen demist on the Trojan was warm air drawn from a tin box around the single cylinder, propelled by a fan along a section of corrugated hose into the hollow front door frame where it exited via a slot just in front of the driver. Bad luck if you had a leaking exhaust gasket! Being a generally rather "fumey" vehicle it was convenient that the cloth roof could be folded back. 

When we first acquired the Trojan, being on 'L' plates,  I phoned the then ministry of transport to ask whether I needed an accompanying driver. Out of 3 calls I got two responses in the negative, so I went with the majority vote and drove around solo for several years until I was stopped by a motorcycle cop one foggy night. He was a 3 wheel enthusiast, so we had a 30 minute chat on the subject, following which he reported me and I got a polite letter from Hampshire Constabulary telling me to desist. Having subsequently graduated to 4 wheels, I sold the Trojan for £10.

I don't have any contemporary photo's, so the images above are courtesy of t'internt.

All the best,

Andy Beckett