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Clyno Motorcycle History

Clyno motorcycles

Developing from a Motor Cycle manufacturer, the Clyno Engineering Company (1922) Ltd, founded by Frank Smith, became the surprise success of British car manufacturing in the 1920s becoming the country's third largest car manufacturer. Based in Pelham Street, Wolverhampton, England they made in excess of 40,000 cars between 1922 and 1929.

The name came from the inclined belt pulleys developed for industrial use and later applied to motor cycles. The pulleys had been made by the Smith brothers in 1909 by the Clyno Engineering Company based in Thrapston, Northamptonshire, and in 1910 complete motor cycles were starting to be made using Stevens engines. Stevens went into voluntary liquidation in late 1910 and the Smith brothers agreed to buy their factory in Pelham Street,Wolverhampton. In 1912 they expanded into the factory that had been used to build Humber bicycles. The First World War brought many orders for a combination machine with Vickers machine gun. With the growth in car sales motor cycle production ceased in 1923.

The first car, and mainstay throughout their existence, the 10.8, designed by AG Booth had a 1368 cc 4 cylinder side valve Coventry Climax model F engine fitted a Cox Atmos carburettor and a 3 speed gearbox. Initially no differential was fitted but this was soon added. From 1926 four wheel brakes were standardised. It was renowned for its reliability and economy. About 35000 are thought to have been made including some sports versions and de luxe Royal models.

A slightly bigger model, the 13 (later 12/28), but still with the same 8 feet 9 inch wheelbase was introduced in 1924 using Clyno's own engine which had a 69 mm bore, 3 mm more than the 10.8 but the same 100 m stroke. About 8000 were made.
A new factory in Bushbury on the northern outskirts of Wolverhampton was added in 1927 and with it two new models. The 12/35 had the engine bored out to 69.5 mm to increase the capacity to 1593 cc, presumably to cater for heavier coachwork, although most of these chassis seem to have carried fabric bodies.

The last car was the small fabric bodied Nine with a 951 cc engine. The Century (later nicknamed the Cemetery) version was an attempt at a £100 car but quality was starting to suffer and the depression of the late 1920s saw a sales slump with severe competition coming from the Austin 7 and Morris Minor.

In an apparent attempt to move up market a prototype straight 8 was made but never went into production.

The main distributors had been the Rootes Brothers who at one time tried to buy the company. But, from 1928 they decided to concentrate on Hillman and this hastened the demise of Clyno.

In 1929 Clyno went bankrupt and the assets were purchased by Birmingham based R H Collier.

Clyno (1914)

  • Engine - side-valve V-Twin four-stroke
  • Capacity - 744cc
  • Carburettor - Amac
  • Transmission - all-chain with three-speed countershaft gearbox and clutch
  • Lubrication - semi-automatic
  • Top speed - 55mph