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The Smith Flyer Cyclecar & The A. O. Smith Co.

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Smith Flyer Cyclecar
The A. O. Smith Co.
Milwaukee, WI

The Smith Flyer was an American made Cyclecar produced by A. O. Smith Co. in Milwaukee, WI from 1917 to 1920 and later by Briggs & Stratton. The Flyer had a body made of hard wood slats that from a distance you might easily mistake it for a kids pedal car. If fact it wasn't much larger than a kids pedal car. However, it had twin bucket seats and a breezy open air design.

Besides its buckboard body, the Flyer was distinguished by having five wheels on the ground. The fifth wheel supplied the power and was called the Smith Motor Wheel.

1918 Smith Flyer
1918 Smith Flyer appearing in Motor Wheeling Magazine

The Smith Motor Wheel was mounted on the rear and carried it's one cylinder engine, 2 1/4 inch stroke, 2 3/8 inch bore. The little engine developed only 1 1/2 horsepower. A shift lever up front allowed the operator to lift the little engine off the ground so it could idle without stopping. To start the fifth wheel was lowered. To stop a pair of braked lined fenders was pressed against the rear wheels by a brake pedal up front.

Vintage Photo of 1918 Smith Flyer
Vintage Photo of 1918 Smith Flyer

Only a single model of the A. O. Smith Flyer Cyclecar was produced. It was a two passenger open buckboard type automobile with small bicycle type wheels. Shown above is a vintage photo with adults at the wheel.

1917 Eddie Foy and his Smith Flyer
1917 Eddie Foy and The Seven Little Foys

In 1917 Eddie Foy, actor, comedian, dancer and vaudevillian, purchased a Smith Flyer and use it in his vaudeville acts. Between 1910 and 1913, he formed a family vaudeville act called "Eddie Foy and The Seven Little Foys" which quickly turned into a national institution.

1914-1915 Argo Cyclecar Magazine Ad

The forerunner of the Smith Flyer was this gas driven Smith Motor Wheel designed for bicycles. Many were made before the Smith Flyer. The last of the Flyers was this electric version shown above on the right that was made up to 1925 by the Automotive Electric Service Co. and called the Auto Red Bug and widely used in Amusement Parks. They also made Motor Wheels after buying the patent from Briggs and Stratton.

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