Two (or Three) Wheel Tuesday: BSA and Busmar Sidecar Combo

IMAG4945 On my way to the pub this weekend I caught this very fetching old English bike and sidecar (sidecarriage seems more proper) parked by the side of the river while its crew enjoyed an ice cream We often speak of Minis, microcars and the economy car in general, but it’s easy to forget that, before the days of no-money-down, infinite term finance schemes enabling absolutely anybody to be able to “afford” the automobile of their dreams, what you’re looking at here was The Car for many people. Though they weren’t always quite so elaborate as this fully enclosed example. IMAG4946 This is a 1950 BSA which the DVLA has logged as carrying a 500cc engine. In reality this would be either 499 0r 496cc, depending on what precise model we’re looking at, I’m expecting Tanshanomi to chime in any second to confirm. I’ve a feeling this is an M33. The sidecar is, I’m pretty sure, by Busmar of Blackpool, Lancashire. I assume it to be an Astral of some kind, though I’m struggling to find any online illustrations of one with precisely these lines to the window frames. Of course, if I was to ever have a go in one of these I’d probably find it an intoxicating experience, whether I rode pillion on the bike or in the enclosed sidecar. Doing anything for the first time has that effect on me.I would find it very difficult, though, to imagine how living with one of these would have been back in the early ‘fifties, when travelling by bike and sidecar would have been part of the daily routine of many thousands of people in depressed, bleak, post-war England. IMAG4949 Who gets the rawest deal travelling in this kind of rig? Is it the driver, exposed to the elements in all weathers whilst being hamstrung by an inability to lean the bike into corners? Or is it the passenger of the enclosed sidecar; deafened by the thinly muffled chatter of the engine whilst sealed into a claustrophobic aluminium-skinned box with no obvious source of ventilation apart from the roll-back canvas roof? I imagine that, once installed as a passenger, you simply become ballast; a cargo to be transported safely. I assume you can’t really enter into verbal communication with the driver, nor can you navigate for him.   Could sidecar outfits ever make a comeback as a car alternative, rather than just as a leisure plaything or as transport for people who simply won’t be told that there’s another way? I would assume that, even if there was some kind of sudden unexpected switch towards them, The Man would swiftly legislate them out back of existence. Anyway, it was nice to see this one getting an airing, and I hope the ice-cream (a Mr Whippy with a Flake and a waffle cone) was to their liking. (All images copyright Chris Haining  / Hooniverse 2016)

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One response to “Two (or Three) Wheel Tuesday: BSA and Busmar Sidecar Combo”

  1. Mark D Phillips Avatar
    Mark D Phillips

    Funny you should have stumbled over this one parked there: this spring 2023 I saw the same model on ebay for £100 and bought it; took me a month or two to reconstruct the body securely and then got an old BMW twin to power it with.
    Now it sometimes takes the kids to school of a morning, sharing that with another outfit I built myself 25 years ago.
    But I had always fancied a Busmar Astral so when that one turned up I was in there!
    Mark D Phillips…….