PTM Highlight for November: Whizzer Motor Company
The Whizzer Motor Company started in 1939 as Breene-Taylor Engineering – an engine assembly kit manufacturer in Los Angeles. The kit was basically an engine and fuel tank.
Martin Goldman bought the operation in 1942 created Whizzer Motor Company – he had been an attorney for Breene-Taylor. To continue manufacturing during the war, Goldman had to lobby the US Government to continue as a fuel efficient commuter transportation alternative. The company moved from LA to Pontiac in 1946 to take advantage of the heavy industry/manufacturing capability that had grown during WWII.
You could mount a Whizzer on any bike where it could fit, sometimes requiring ingenuity or customization. It gained enough popularity that several bike manufacturers (including Schwinn) built frames designed to make Whizzer kit installation easy.
Whizzer’s first pre-assembled motorized bicycle came in 1948 (the Pacemaker at $199.50). Later the more upscale Ambassador and Sportsman models were introduced. Most were 138 cc engines.
In 1955 the company name changed to Whizzer Industries reflecting their diversification into other non-transportation products. The company as Pontiac knew it ended production in 1965 with an estimated 250,000 bikes produced. Several enthusiast clubs continue to restore and celebrate Whizzers in the US (see http://www.angelfire.com/pa/whizzermotorbike/index.html)
The “New Whizzer Motorbike Company” (from 1997-2009) represented an entirely different business entity which offered a retro, nostalgic version albeit with significant technical updates.
Ultimately – not a lot different concept of efficient transportation than the popularity growth we see today in e-bikes!