Motorcycle or Not?? Part 3: Four-wheelers

The word "car" was not used before well in the 20th century. Before that time people spoke about wheels (cycles) preceded by a number indication like Uni-, Bi-, Tri- or Quadro- to name a vehicle propelled by an engine.

It is generally thought that the Frenchman Berliet was the first who invented a car's coach-work in 1903. Before that year "cars" were not more than a construction with on the left and right, front and back, 1 or 2 wheels. Because the differential was not yet invented, the driving was most times done on 1 wheel only. This made driving of a four-wheeler a real adventure. Open the throttle too far and the car rushed to one side, too litle and you could end on the other side in the ditch. A throttle that was easy to dose was just invented in 1915 by Glenn Curtis. Driving on 1 wheel led to different kinds of 3-wheelers. At the end of the 19th century Louis Renault invented the differential which was applied in cars, which thereby became much more stable vehicles.
Because of their appearance and the name that was used in the early days: Quadricycle, my opinion is that at least some of these items should be ranked among the motorcycles and their development.

A very early type is the steam driven quadricycle built my Messrs. De Dion, Bouton and Trepardoux (by the way, a steam-engine is also regarded as engine). The same type was first built as 3-wheeler (see the stamps below) and later sold as quadro-wheeler. PostNL has issued a nice stamp of it in the sheet and prestige booklet about the Louwman Museum (2014-01-27).

Sheet Netherlands with De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux 3-wheeler from the Louwman Museum

Stamp Comores with De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux 3-wheeler

Stamp Benin with De Dion Bouton et Trepardoux 3-wheeler

From the same period is the so-called forecar, a a four-wheeler here in use by the French Post on a Cuban stamp. Later the same image has been used on a French Pret-á-Poster.

Stamp Cuba with 4-wheeled forecar

PrÍt-a-Poster with 4-wheeled forecar

Another case is the Benz Velo that, despite its name and the lack of a coach-work, still is regarded to be the first 4-wheeled car.

Maximum card with Benz Quadricycle

The used engine was first tested in the Einspur, the first motorcycle (1885), and later, before placing it between four wheels (on the maximum card the Benz Quadricycle, 1889), first mounted on a 3-wheeler: the Benz Patentwagen (1886). The final result, the engine block with an oversized flywheel, is found back in the Benz Velo (1894).

The engine used by Benz

Stamp Luxemburg with Benz Velo

In the same years Henry Ford is the person who is walking around on the other side of the ocean with the same kind of ideas, and invents his version of the quadricycle.
Although he himself called the machine quadricycle, just like in Europe, the Americans called it a "Horseless Carriage", later abbreviated to the word Car.

Block Guinee with Henry Ford on his Horseless Carriage

Postal stationary with image of Fords Horseless Cariage

Looking at it in this way there are quite some more stamps and items that can easily be ranked under our theme, often being part of series and issues related to cars and their history.

Nowadays we know four-wheeled motorcycles as quads, to which the same demands are put for driving them as to two-wheeled motorcycles.
The quad is a perfect work-horse and we can often find them on farms, airports and in postal delivery.

Stamp New Zealand with sheperd on Quad

Stamp South Africa with Quad

Postal stationary Mayotte with postman on Quad

In sports quads have been placed under the FIM, and this organisation has even started a World Championship for them. But the best known is still the use of quads in rally's, and especially the Dakar Rally.

Stamps Argentina with Quads in Dakar Rally

From Bulgaria the maximum card and the propaganda issue. Note the zero-value.

Maximum card Bulgaria with Quad in Dakar Rally

Propaganda issue Bulgaria with Quad in Dakar Rally

As you will understand, four-wheelers are simply integrated in my collection and, although I can imagine that many of you see quadricycles more as cars and only the more modern quad as a motorcycle, I still place them in the catalogue. You can always strike them out by yourself.

Hans de Kloet

Image with various motorized vehiclaes around 1900, amongst which Leon Bollee 3-wheeler

This is the third article in a series of 4, in which it will be elucidated for several of these dubious cases or/when they are reckoned to be a motorcycle. These guidelines will also be used to decide whether an issue will be included in the new version of the catalogue or not.


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