Yes, that’s Jay Leno showing up for the Griffith Park shindig appropriately enough aboard a rare four-cylinder Henderson/sidecar combo.
There’s that old horse before the wagon question, but when it comes to motor-cycles, whether two wheels or three wheels came first is a matter of interpretation. Sure the ancient Sumerians apparently invented the chariot, but according to the all-knowing Oz aka Wikipedia, the first mention of a sidecar was visualized by a cartoon penned by a George Moore in the January 7, 1903 issue of the British publication Motor Cycling. Apparently just three weeks later another Brit, W. J. Graham of Graham Brothers, Enfield, Middlesex, acquired a patent for such a conveyance.
The “woody” sidecar seems to have a bit of Tommy the Train grin going for it. Doug Bingham built the custom “house car” for owner Russ Smith to match up with his new Triumph.
Whatever dusty bits of history conceal the sidecar’s birth, no doubt linked to bicycles, three-wheeling is up and running at full speed around the U.S. thanks in great part to the efforts of Doug “Mr. Sidecar” Bingham, considered one of the prime movers in the sport having opened the doors of L.A. based Side Strider in 1969 plus racking up wins as a hotshoe sidecar racer. For his decades of achievements in design and promotion of “hacking” he was inducted into the U.S. National Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
Matching shades complete a picture perfect profile of sidehacking in style.
Doug has helped many a novice enter the sport and built many a “rig” plus organized the annual Griffith Park Sidecar Rally, recently celebrating its 44th.
Back in the early 1900s before cars made a mess of things, sidecars were the family vacation vehicle that brought traveling up close and personal, no video screens or even windows to get in the way of enjoying the great outdoors.
A bevy of vintage and modern BMW’s were well-represented included this custom paint “airhead” and equally custom rider. It was about 100 degrees so don’t touch that helmet.
Let the photos tell the tale…and mark next November on your calendar for the 45th running of the rally and find out first hand why getting “hacked” is a good thing.
Doing it in the Dirt
Custom Honda powered off-roading racer gets a standing ovation.
Russian Cyrillic writing on fender of Ural combo reads “Fanatic.” Urals are modern interpretation of vintage German war machines once copied in Soviet Russia and now offered in a variety of great bang for your buck sidecar fun.
“Who Let the Dogs Out?”
The mobile dog house is occupied by a Wire-Haired Terrier named Mickey as in “Mickey Finn – because he’s a knock-out” according to his pal Scotty who just happens to hail from Scotland.
Didn’t Gina Lollabrigida Ride One of These?
Says the Golden Retriever, “I went for a Vespa and matching sidecar because there’s a little Italian in me.”
Says the Bull Terrier riding in the military drab Honda combo, “It goes back to a distant cousin named “Willie” who happened to buddy up with WWII hero Gen. George Patton. Willie was short for his full name, William the Conqueror. Yeah, Patton had some strange belief that he was re-incarnated from past warrior chiefs.”
Three Motors and Counting
While Chris Wirkett hails originally from Australia, he’s ridden his onceuponatime ’66 Harley Electra-Glide some 300,000 miles around the U.S. and now joined by Olivia on his adventures.
More Brit iron in the form of a BSA single, the thumper making for a light and nimble “car” combo.
A Triumph Six-Cylinder gets the ultra-modern wedge treatment.
For this “birthday” the event attracted a wild and wooly spectrum of Harley, BMW, BSA, Honda, Yamaha and Triumph powered vintage, custom, hi-tech modern and racing machines, each as unique and colorful as the individuals who piloted them, often clocking hundreds of thousands of miles on three wheels.
Got it Made in the Shade
See Ya Next Year for the 45th L.A. Hack-athon