Nobody asked me, but . . .
I must say that I am more than a little miffed that Autoweek (It oughta be called Auto[EVERY OTHER]week) writer Mark Vaughn totally missed the significance of the “class of three Cyclop 2 s” (or Twos or IIs, the Italian manufacturer, Piero Martini, and the US importers, Trebor Crunchcog and T. Tom Meshingear not being particularly careful with their numbering system back in the day) that Carmel Concours on the Avenue organizer Doug Freedman prominently displayed during this year’s Car Week+ in Monterey. Vaughn states: “But the rest of the show, while there was a class of Cyclops, had some lovely vehicles.” Frankly, this is more than a little demeaning to the diminutive Cyclops and its significant place in automotive history.
Adding injury to insult, Vaughn pens an article on the Concours d’LeMons, which is also part of Cars Week+ in Monterey, saying the following:
“There were 105 cars entered this year, none of which you’d want to be seen driving.”
And: “Rich Ducoing made his Cyclops II by hand from cartoon drawings done by artist Stan Mott more than 50 years ago.”
Concours on the Avenue, Carmel. California
Those three Cyclops that participated in the Carmel Concours on the Avenue represent 33.33333% of the world’s running Cyclops. And the Herculean efforts required by the owners to get them to Carmel are perhaps overshadowed only by the Guinness Book of Records award to Stan Mott, one of the two creators of the first Cyclops (Robert Cumberford is the other), for the only recorded circumnavigation of the globe in a go kart. His 3-year, 23,300 land-mile, 28-country journey in a Lambretta-engined175-cc Italkart with a ground clearance of two inches, started from New York on February 15, 1961 and finished in NY on June 5, 1964.
Why did he do it? A bet over a cup of coffee!
Badiapur, India. Which way to Mumbai? Racing go karts with King Hussein of Jordan. An unsympathetic Bobby writes a ticket in Dover, GB.
This year marks not only the 60th anniversary of the manufacture of the first Cyclops by Stan and Robert, who are both world renowned designers and authors in their own write, but 1957 also represents the year when the fabrication of the first article on the Cyclops written and illustrated by the two aforementioned gentlemen appeared in the pages of Road & Track. In the March ‘57 issue to be both accurate and precise.
Cyclops fall into a class of vehicle designated as Low Speed Vehicles (LSV) by the DOT, which limits their maximum speed to 25 mph. And they are only legal on roads with speed limits of 35 mph or lower. This meant that for Cyclops owner Jack Handy, who journeyed to Carmel, California from Parrish, Florida, a trip of 14,368 miles, which at an average of 9.6 mph equals 62.3611113 days. Jack estimates he averaged 6.8 hours per day behind the wheel of his Cyclops, which brings his actual trip time to 220.098039 days on the road . . . give or take an hour or two. Jack used award points accrued with Hyatt and Motel 6 to cover 12.333 of his stays (That 0.333 is the subject of an upcoming book by Jack) and his notoriety has earned him a free room in any Hyatt property for the rest of his life. In addition, Jack set a Guinness record of his own: The AAA TripTix Jack requested to drive only on legal roads and with grades of less than 2.3496% (based on the weight of Jack and the Cyclops, a full tank of fuel, and the required FIA luggage bag with Jack’s basic essentials weighing 8.614 kilos), consumed 1486 pages and required six AAA employees working for 29 days to complete. Jack had not calculated the weight of this road map in his grade calculations, and while traversing one particularly steep pass through the Rockies, he had to tear out and throw away 386 of the pages (Obviously the ones he’d already used!) in order to reduce the weight he was carrying. Jack says he will personally autograph any of those pages picked up by other drivers during this harrowing uphill climb, if they will send them to him including a SASE (That would be Self Addressed Stamped Envelope for those who are too young to understand snail mail.).
Kelvin Merner, owner of the Cycops, drove to Carmel from Kelowna, BC, Canada and had an equally eventful journey. Just north of the US Canadian border he stopped to rescue a German Shepard puppy he found abandoned at the side of the road. Canadian Customs agents said the dog would have to be quarantined for six months to check for rabies before it would be allowed in the US so they turned it over to the RCMP who immediately named it King.
US border officials suspicious that Kelvin’s Cycops didn’t have the usual markings of a Canadian police car immediately pulled it over to check for drugs. After a thorough search, including removing the flashing light at the top of the car, they sent him on his way with an admonishment not to use his black and white privileges to speed on American roads. Thank you and have a nice day!
Kelvin says his combined Canadian-US CAAA-AAA TripTix book featuring both miles and kilometers, weights in pounds and metric tonnes and prices in US and Canadian dollars, as well as Euros and English Pound Sterling, still didn’t come close to matching Handy’s giant tome. It was only 342 Mac Pages or 486 in an MS Word doc.
The smartest of the three owners was probably Jim Ducoing whose friendship with a trucking company allowed him to strike a deal with an 18-wheeler headed to Monterey from Ducoing’s home town of Fairfield, California.
As long as his Cyclops remained between 6.45693 in. and 3.59385 feet off the 18-wheeler’s rear bumper, the distance being a function of the truck’s speed, the Cyclops would be “trapped” in the vacuum created behind the truck and would be sucked along without the need for the engine running or a driver. What about those low speeds when the Cyclops couldn’t draft? Do the words Bungee cords come to mind?
Since that first Cyclops 2 article in the March 1957 issue of R&T, 22 additional Cyclops articles have appeared in the pages of R&T. In the September 1957 issue of R&T the Cyclops was road tested.
In 2012 Cyclops was invited to participate in the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Glenn Thomas of Beavercreek, Ohio, brought his Cyclops II to Amelia,, copping The Best of Snow award. This year Cyclops was also invited to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca because of the marque’s extraordinary competition success, winning Le Mans in 1960, The East African Safari in 1964, The Targa Florio in 1965, the Indy 500 in 1968, the Nurburgring in 1969, the Japanese Grand Prix 1971 and the Great Wall of China Grand Prix in 1972.
So I hope that every person, auto enthusiast or otherwise, living or dead, will join me in an appreciation for the humble but immensely successful and popular Cyclops and the two men most responsible for that success, Stan and Robert, along with a shout down of author Vaughn for his disparaging remarques and insensitivity to one of the most significant auto companies in the history of this planet . . . and galaxy.
Do you hear that sucking noise? That’s the sound of Mark Vaughn and his future Autoweak articles being consumed by the Black Hole of a Cyclops exhaust pipe.
Lastly, but certainly not leastly, a toast to the creators, Stan Mott and Robert Cumberford. Robert journeyed to Carmel from his home in France. Stan, unfortunately, was not able to make it from his home in Germany. But he joined us in spirit and with a phone call that I was honored to have Robert and the assembled Cyclop owners share. Cheers to Cyclop aficionados all around the world. Long live Cyclops!
Photos by the Author and Leslie Dinkel