Lot 306: Bond Mark "C" Convertible
Following the end of WWII, most of Europe's production capacity (and economy) was in ruins. Quick to get back on their feet though, European's needed a reliable, economical, and inexpensive way to get around, thus beginning the age of the microcar. While small cars like the Austin Seven and Morgan SS had appeared before the war, the number of three and four-wheeled microcars blossomed exponentially from the early 1950s through the mid 1960s. One entrepreneur hoping to take advantage of opportunity was Lawrence Bond. Bond had cut his teeth as an excellent designer and enthusiast of 500cc motorsport. Having familiarized himself with ultra-lightweight vehicles, he and his wife Pauline built a three-wheeled prototype (to take advantage of the lower taxation levied on motorcycles in the UK) of a minimalist motorcar with stressed-skin monocoque construction and a motor mounted on the sole front wheel. Production began in 1949 with the Mark A produced by Sharp's Commercials in Preston, Lancaster, England. Considerable improvements were introduced when the Mark C debuted in January of 1953. A restyled body enclosed independent rear suspension with the rear wheels mounted on trailing arms, three wheel brakes, and a completely new front end that included trailing arm and coil spring suspension dampened by a hydraulic shock absorber. The original rack-and-pinion steering design was replaced by a worm-and-sector steering design that allowed a 90° lock in both directionsallowing the car to turn on its own axis. Further updated was the motor, which by 1954 was a Villiers 8E unit displacing 197cc and producing 8hp, but still retained a kick starterprobably one of the only cars to do so. Of the 6,700 Mark Cs produced, the Bond Owners Club in the United Kingdom only has 41 examples in their registry and only 5 or 6 are in the US. The example offered here has had its engine and transmission rebuilt by Villiers expert Charlie Brown of Superior Sleeve Co. in Clackamas, Oregon. The car is complete with the full top, side curtains, original owners handbook, original engine workshop manual, and even original salesroom and magazine brochures and advertisements. Currently registered as a motorcycle (which qualifies it for use in the carpool lane with only one occupant), it is offered on an Oregon Certificate of Title.
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Bonhams & Butterfields, Los Angeles
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