Last Call: March 10th, 1921 Edition

At 870-ccs, this radical radial engine was pretty big for the era. The longitudinally placed radial motor is only one of this early bike’s interesting features however. There’s also the enclosed shaft drive and the rear suspension by half-elliptical springs, and the jaunty French Lieutenant’s hat front fender.
I’m frequently amazed at the technology of the early motorcycle industry, which seemed to lead the auto industry by a decade or more.
Last Call indicates the end of Hooniverse’s broadcast day. It’s meant to be an open forum for anyone and anything. Thread jacking is not only accepted, it’s encouraged. 
Image: Goawaygarage


  1. I wonder if the reason that motorcycle technology often outpaced automotive technology is that the scale of production was so much smaller, and that there were so many manufacturers? Anybody could take a good idea and adapt it to a motorcycle without investing a fortune to try it.

  2. I can’t think of any single cylinder motorcycles with a longitudinal crankshaft. Then again, I can’t think of any single cylinder shafties, either.

      1. I like the Lilac. And the FN! Pre WW1 Shaftie? That I hadn’t seen.
        I was picturing a single with the carb on one side and the header on the other, I don’t know why. Like one cylinder cut out of an Excelsior Henderson.

  3. A remarkable machine, to be sure – at least on paper. Do any still exist? Because tonight my thoughts are focused on a ‘true survivor’ from the same era – one that debuted less than a week after the date of the article above. In contrast to the big brute shown in the article, the MJC has always been noted for compact efficiency, reliability and longevity, as evidenced by impeccable performance virtually every day since March 16, 1921. Though originally from the brickyard home of the Indy 500, the MJC crew headed to California to help with the war effort when WWII broke out. After the war, the MJC continued to turn heads as a stylish symbol of the rapidly growing SoCal suburbs. My first encounter with the old girl was in 1957, and it was love at first sight. Then, as now, she stands as a testament to the advantages of good maintainence, quality fuel, and careful stewardship, with over 90 years use and still going strong on the original Indy parts The last major repair was made back in 1970 or so. Amazing reliability.
    Until today. This morning, that remarkable multi-valve engine began running rough and may have stalled briefly. After an exam at our local shop, a specialist in such vintage motors has been called in and is currently assessing the situation in order to recommend next steps. We’re all rooting for our MJC, because we can’t imagine a world without her at it’s center.
    No, of course the MJC is not a car. Or a motorcycle.
    Hang in there, Mom. We’re all here because we love you and will do whatever we can to help you get well soon!

  4. With a slight whiff of relevance I am going out on a limb here, and say that a magazine called “Municipal Report” is not the first piece of reading one would normally choose to dabble in. Yet, this article sums up the age, make and model of all classic cars that are owned by Norwegian municipalities, and it is a wee bit interesting:
    One of the oldest cars is this 1913 Adler:
    This 1916 FWD is a more common example though, it was rebuilt in 1924 and saw somewhat regular use until the 1960s:
    Fire trucks in general tend to be used for very extensive periods. Especially small communities with very rare use for fire equipment have a lot of old jewels still in service. 1960s Dodges are a very common item to be decommissioned only now. The same is true in Germany, where old IFA trucks still wear the white-and-red-livery for occasional service.

  5. These guys have been building something similar out of Briggs & Stratton engines:

    1. Those guys are pretty handy. Watched the inline four B&S build they did a year or two ago. Pretty cool.

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