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Lot 201: James De Luxe L Autocyle

Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (23 June 2010)

The James Cycle Company Ltd of Greet, Birmingham, was founded in 1880 by Harry James and was a well-established manufacturer of both pedal cycles and motor cycles when it introduced its model J18 autocycle for the 1938 season. The early version had a small fuel tank, no springing and no engine covers; inverted levers were used for the brakes. Like all of James' machines at the time, it was powered by a Villiers engine.

The autocycle continued for 1939 as the Model K18 at a price of 18 guineas [�18.90]. A tradesman's version was also available. For 1940 it became the L18 and was joined by a deluxe version: the L20. This used the new Villiers Junior de Luxe engine instead of the Junior and also had the luxury of engine covers.

The James factory was very busy during World War II. Although this production was mainly armaments and aircraft fittings, motorcycles were still being produced. Over 6,000 lightweight motorcycles were supplied to the armed forces. The autocycle was also still being made in limited numbers; these machines were probably supplied to civilians undertaking essential war work. The factory was bombed and very badly damaged in December 1940. It was completely rebuilt within three months; however, nearly all of the company's archive material was lost in the bombing.

After the war the autocycle was re-introduced and given the name Superlux - at a price of �53 6s 10d for 1948. It continued until 1949 when it was replaced by a new, Villiers 2F powered model. Both models were exhibited at the 1948 Earls Court Show, the new one being given the Superlux name and the older model becoming the Standard. The Standard model was soon dropped from the range. The new Superlux continued until 1953.

Manufactured in 1946 this Deluxe L model, registration number GLV 515, was in constant use until it was taken off the road in December 1954 (tax disc present). It was then stored in the owner's shed until 1964 when the owner's son took apart the 98cc Villiers Junior engine with the intention of recommissioning it. This was never done and the frame and boxed engine parts, together with spare mudguards and wheel and engine covers, were returned to the shed until the present day.

Included in the sale are the original handbook and list of spare parts together with The Villiers Engine by B E Browning published in 1949, a practical guide covering all models, and Your Autocycle and how to get the best from it published by the Motor Cycle in 1949, plus the original logbook.

Lot Details
Auction Classic & Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster, Herefordshire
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number201
Estimate£150-£300
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£210
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1946
Condition rating0
Registration numberGLV 515
Mileage-
Chassis numberJ10783
Engine numberXXA39399
Engine capacity (cc)98
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors