1926 Wooler 3½hp Standard Touring Model Frame no. 2D Engine no. 10010

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Lot 166
1926 Wooler 3½hp Standard Touring Model
Registration no. WB 5397 Frame no. 2D Engine no. 10010

Sold for £ 13,800 (US$ 16,730) inc. premium
1926 Wooler 3½hp Standard Touring Model
Registration no. WB 5397
Frame no. 2D
Engine no. 10010
A byword for engineering eccentricity, Wooler displayed its first motorcycle at the 1911 Olympia Show where it was hailed by the press as ‘The greatest novelty in the Show.’ The machine was the work of John Wooler, who would go on to design a succession of bizarre motorcycles over the course of the next 40 years. Wooler’s first design was powered by a 230cc two-stroke engine that featured a double-acting piston in an enclosed cylinder, reciprocating motion being achieved by means of an extended gudgeon pin, protruding through the cylinder wall on either side, which was attached to two external connecting rods and thence to the crankshaft. This highly unusual power unit was carried in a frame that employed plunger springing for both wheels, while the overall transmission ratio could be varied by means of a swivelling expandable pulley. Another unique feature was the tapering, missile-shaped fuel tank, protruding in front of the steering head, which gave the machine a distinctly futuristic appearance, at least by the standards of 1911. A winged spanner was chosen as the company’s emblem: a reference to the fact that supposedly only two sizes of fastening had been used throughout the machine.

Production commenced at Wilkinson Sword’s factory towards the end of 1912, by which time the engine had grown to 344cc. No Woolers were produced during The Great War and when production recommenced in 1919 it was with a four-stroke, horizontally-opposed twin boasting inlet-over-exhaust valve gear: the Model B. The two-stroke’s frame and cycle parts were carried over, as was the protuberant fuel tank, though this was now of a more angular, coffin-like shape. A predominantly yellow colour scheme was adopted, giving rise to the famous ‘Flying Banana’ nickname. Weighing only 162lbs, the belt-driven Wooler possessed a decent power-to-weight ratio and on an observed test one travelled an astonishing 311 miles on a gallon of petrol.

A chain-driven ‘CD’ version with three-speed countershaft gearbox was added for 1920 and it was probably one of these that finished a disappointing 34th in the 1921 Junior TT. Woolers fared much better at Brooklands, holding many long-distance records including the 350cc 12-hours mark at 40.6mph. The Wooler engine went overhead-valve in 1923 when a ‘semi-overhead cam’ arrangement was adopted, but motorcycle production ceased a couple of years later, John Wooler preferring to concentrate on expanding the Packman & Poppe company that he had bought from Erling Poppe.

This ultra-rare and very late example of the pre-war Wooler started life as a 2¾hp (345cc) Sports Model before being upgraded by the factory to 3½hp (500cc) Standard Touring specification, complete with the optional close-ratio three-speed gearbox. The machine was discovered in a garden in Hillsborough, Sheffield and purchased approximately 20 years ago from a VMCC member by the current vendor, who then restored it. We are advised that the foot-boards currently fitted are exact replicas of the originals, which are included in the sale together with the original brass brake shoes. Described as in generally excellent running condition, the machine is offered with Swansea V5C document. A valve lifter, fitted to make starting easier, is the only notified deviation from factory specification.
1926 Wooler 3½hp Standard Touring Model Frame no. 2D Engine no. 10010
1926 Wooler 3½hp Standard Touring Model Frame no. 2D Engine no. 10010
1926 Wooler 3½hp Standard Touring Model Frame no. 2D Engine no. 10010
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25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
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