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The Autoscooter – we’re glad one of us was brave enough to try it…
Four wheels yet still just 180kg, Luca tries Emporium Garage's Autoscooter
A sidecar’s buggy, a Harley Ironhead engine, a Luisi steering wheel with NG steering, and four Volkswagen Beetle wheels. The Autoscooter – a kind of Frankestein’s monster of the bike world. A unique creature built for the World Custom Bike Building Awards and only four people, me included, have been lucky enough to drive.
The idea for the Autoscooter was born in October 2015 when a ‘50s sidecar buggy was placed on a cube of bricks with wheels to be moved inside the workshop.
“Why don’t add to the four-wheel structure and make it the main part of a quadricycle?” said Daniele Cremonesi, the owner of Emporium Garage.
Like a modern Mary Shelley, Daniele and Nunzia, his wife who works with him at the workshop, became the authors of this story that after 860 hours’ work using exclusively heritage components, gave Autoscooter’s birth.
The engine is a reconditioned 1,000 cc 1975 Harley Sportster Ironhead motor, producing 72hp. The second step was tyre choice, and they chose the iconic Volkswagen Beetle with its whitewalls and vintage design.
The steering wheel is an original 40s Luisi while the steering box is taken from a NG, suitably modified by Daniele to fit it into a single-seater.
It has a bespoke, lightweight frame (35kg), which together with the engine (80kg) and other components, tip the scales at 180kg.
The original idea was to deploy power via the rear wheels, but the presence of the 15-litre fuel tank behind the seat and overly invasive work in the buggy, meant it was more functional and aesthetically clean to deliver traction only on the left rear wheel.
To the left: the engine. On the right, for weight balance, a compartment with battery and oil tank, designed and made by Daniele and Nunzia, who were inspired by a Wok pan found in a Chinese shop!
The Autoscooter has pedals too: clutch, brake and accelerator, as well as a leather seat inside the fully upholstered grey walnut buggy, by the specialist Davide Aresi.
My curiosity to drive something so special and unique kept growing as Daniele and Nunzia told me about the birth and construction of Autoscooter. Indomitable monster or docile creature?
From ignition one thing is recognisable, even for newcomers to the world of custom bikes: the deep rumble of the Harley engine. Clutch pedal down, shift lever in. I immediately understood that the Autoscooter is a coarse vehicle, where practice is crucial for a smooth start.
Traction on a single wheel is the most fun thing. It makes the tail nervous, but also controllable, although even on a straight road you always have a feeling of some instability at the rear, while the drum brakes, the same as the Beetle, require you to brake well in advance of slowing or stopping.
It speeds up so fast and you suddenly realize you have the steering wheels between the knees (I’m 182 cm tall) and the front and rear wheels a few inches from the body.
The Autoscooter has honest and controllable reactions. It’s not a car, but it has four wheels. It’s not a motorbike, but it has a motorcycle engine. It turned the heads of many when I passed, while the two-wheel purists looked on somewhat disdainfully.
I experienced only respect behind the Autoscooter’s steering wheel, feeling all the hard work and passion that went into it. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit coarse. That’s what makes it so cool!
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