01 February 2008

The Sidecar That Started it All

I suppose I was three, or maybe four, when my Grandpa bought a cabinet for the office of his business. The cabinet was delivered by a vehicle which opened my little eyes very wide: it was a motorbike with a cargo sidecar. I badly wanted my Dad to get one! ... He didn't.
The motorbike was a Harley, probably a late thirties model, fitted with a Dusting sidecar chassis upon which was bolted a large wooden box about 2.5 metres (nearly 8 feet) long, about 60 cm (2 feet) wide, and about 45 cm (18 inches) high. The tailgate was lowered on its hinge to form a ramp, and the delivery man used a trolley to unload Grandpa's new cabinet. While they worked at placing it in the office, I inspected the bike. It smelt attractive. The smell of hot oil. The heady whiff of petrol vapour escaping from the tank cap. The rubbery smell of the tyres. Oh, would this little boy love a machine like this!
I touched the sidecar's wooden bodywork and observed as it swang up and down on its leaf springs - just like you would see them do as they travelled along the roads. In Geelong, in those immediate post-War days, many deliveries were made by cargo sidecar. They were cheap to run, and with the tailgate being only 20 cm (about 8 inches) above road level, one man could make deliveries that would require an assistant if a truck were to be used. They really were a sensible delivery vehicle for their day.
But to this little boy at that time, above all else, this was a very exciting machine!

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