c.1899/1900 Phebus 1¾ hp Motor Tricycle
Engine no. 9
Taking its name from Phoebus, the Greek God who drove the sun across the heavens each day, Phebus motor vehicles were built between 1899 and 1903 by Noe Boyer & Cie in the Parisian suburb of Suresnes. Initially Phebus offered tricycles fitted with various proprietary engines, one of which was ridden by Charles Jarrott at a breakneck speed of 39mph on the Crystal Palace Velodrome, near London. The great French rider Beconnais also won the prestigious Coupe des Motocycles de l'ACF in 1899 on a Phebus bicyclette, covering 100km in 1hr 46mins. The four-wheeler Automobilette Phebus appeared somewhat later and in England these were marketed by F W Wellington of St George's Square, London.
Although the history of this particular tricycle is not documented, it has clearly been the subject of careful restoration some years ago. The single-cylinder, air-cooled Auto Moto engine is, we feel, most likely the 1¾ hp model, although a 2¼ hp engine was also offered by the company at this time, generally powering the slightly heavier Phebus quadricycles. This engine is stamped '9' on the nearside crankcase while the crankcase facing plates are each stamped with the number '11'. The engine is fuelled by a Longuemare carburettor, feeding fuel through an atmospheric inlet valve. Spark is provided via a trembler coil and the machine is equipped with period front and rear lighting, front light by Phares Besnard of Paris and the rear light a Lucas Illuminator. A bulb horn gives audible warning of approach and a comfortable Philips sprung leather saddle is provided for the rider. Brightwork is variously nickel plated and brass. This machine appears to be to original specification in all major respects and should give those ubiquitous De Dion Bouton trikes a fair challenge on both the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and the Sunbeam MCC Pioneer Run for which it is eminently eligible.
- Although the vendor and previous owner both consider this machine to be a Phebus, it should be noted that the Phebus marque was more commonly fitted with Aster engines. It has been suggested that this tricycle may be of Auto Moto's own manufacture, the early engine number perhaps suggesting manufacture in 1899. Many French engineering companies were experimenting with the new-fangled motor vehicle at this time, although series production of motorcycles by Auto Moto is not generally considered to have commenced until 1901/2. We advise further research.