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American Farmer builds a Trike, 1948

It is what we do when car manufacturing is a bust

Compiled by Ujjwal Dey



Frank Mayes' Trike 700cc 1948 ~ This one-off reverse trike was built by Frank Mayes from Fayetteville, Arkansas. The car had front-wheel drive and brakes and rear-wheel steering. Imagine driving with a speed of 55 mph on fixed front-wheels. Much like other three-wheelers, Frank Mayes decided to make his reverse trike, built in the late '40s with front-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering. That and a 1948 design patent from Google.com/patents is showcased here.


Of course, all you millennials with your Slingshot and your Spyder may think the guy should drive a forklift before making a rear wheel steering, you forget that this is 1948. Yes, 55 mph on that thing might be dangerous but it was an alternative to lack of cars. It was not meant as a school bus for your skinny brat.


Publication number : USD155303 S

Publication type :        Grant

Publication date :        Sep 20, 1949

Filing date :     Feb 16, 1948

Inventors :       Frank E. Mayes


Description :

Sept. 20, 1949' F. E. MAYES Des. 155,303


AUTOMOBILE Filed Feb. 16, 1948 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Frank E. Mayes INVENTOR.


F. E. "'MA'YES 155,303


Se t. 20, 1949.


AUTOMOBILE 2 sheets-sneak 2 Filed Feb. 16, 1948 Frank E Mayes v INVENTOR.


Patented Sept. 20, 1949 Des. 155,303




Application February 16, 1948, Serial No. 144,511



Term of patent 3% years To all whom it may concern:


Be it known that I, Frank E. Mayes, a citizen of the United States, residing at Fayetteville, in the county of Washington and State of Arkansas, have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for an Automobile, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawing, forming part thereof.


Figure 1 is a side elevational View of an automobile, showing my new design.


Figure 2 is a top plan View thereof,


Figure 3 is a front elevational View thereof, and


Figure 4 is a rear elevational View of the same.


I claim: The ornamental design for an automobile, as shown.




REFERENCES CITED The following references are of record in the file of this patent:






Frank Mayes a farmer-mechanic, of Fayetteville, AR., built this three-wheeler from scrap Ford and Chevrolet parts over a 22 month period as a way to beat the post-war car shortage. The press photo is dated July 8, 1948, (shortly after Bandit was born in March, 1948) and the caption with it tells us that both driving and braking are controlled by the front wheels while the single rear wheel carried the steering duties. At the time in trial runs he had attained a speed of 55 mph.


Exact same photo with a similar description is found in archives of the legendary American magazine named, Popular Mechanics, of Frank Mayes and his 3-wheeled car. He had applied and won a patent for his unique design. The patented design can be found in American Archives.



In August of 2007, an avid old car collector from Muskogee, OK., was helping his father do some surveying on a property, and took these photos of what is clearly the remains of Franks Mayes Trike/car in Stigler, OK.



A month or so later he went back to check on it and found that the people that owned the property had moved and took it with them. So it appears the 1948 Trike may have survived and hopefully it has been saved. If any readers learn any more about it, drop us a line and relive the American innovation and customization.


Hurrah !!!!




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