Despite the claimed advantages of hub-center steering and the fact that the system has appeared at regular intervals since motorcycling's earliest days, there had only ever been one machine - before the advent of Yamaha's GTS - that made it into volume production: the Ner-a-Car. Invented by American Carl A Neracher in 1919, the Ner-a-Car commenced production two years later in Syracuse, New York State. The design met with some resistance in the USA where larger machines were generally preferred, despite its practicality being demonstrated by 'Cannonball' Baker, who rode one coast-to-coast from New York to Los Angeles, taking only eight days. US production lasted for only a few years but Neracher's invention enjoyed considerably greater success in Europe.
Ner-a-Cars were imported into the UK before a manufacturing license was acquired by Sheffield Simplex. The basic design remained unaltered: pressed-steel chassis, voluminous front mudguard, hub-center steering and friction drive transmission. Whereas US-built models were powered by a two-stroke engine of 221cc, Sheffield Simplex chose to fit their own 285cc unit. Four-stroke sidevalve and (later) overhead-valve 350cc Blackburne-engined versions equipped with conventional three-speed gearboxes followed. It is estimated that some 10,000 Ner-a-Cars were produced in the USA and a further 6,500 or so in the UK up to 1926, of which some 100 or so are believed to survive.
This particular Ner-a-Car was purchased in Holland and has been restored twice by the vendor, on the second occasion after it had been stolen and recovered in 2007. We are advised that the machine runs well and is fun to ride.