Page 62. 1956 Mercury Hermes Scooterette – UNSOLD

1956 Mercury Hermes Scooterette – the failure that destroyed the Mercury Cycle Company

For ebay auction: PLEASE CLICK HERE

Please excuse my extended write-up about this scooter. Not only is it a very rare item – and a delightful little machine to look at – but its failure on launch caused the demise of its manufacturer. The story provides an interesting insight into the mid-fifties scooter boom – which resulted in many poorly designed or badly made models being rushed onto the market. Such ‘white elephants’ are the epitome of collectability half a century later.

The Hermes has so many little touches of originality to share with you that I’ve probably provided too many photos. Look, for example, at the Mercury name stamped into the brake plate, seen below behind its frame number (number 305 out of a production run of 1201)

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The following is extracted from my article about the Mercury Hermes on the Cyclemaster Museum website:

http://www.Cyclemaster.co.uk (Page 57)

The Mercury Cycle Company

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Mercury Industries (Birmingham) Ltd. started in 1947. They were based in Stratford Road, Birmingham and manufactured large numbers of bicycles. They subsequently moved to Dudley.

With the start of the 1950s cyclemotor boom, they were commissioned by Cyclemaster Ltd to adapt some of their frames to suit Cyclemaster engines. They also adapted their delivery bicycle, and this was sold as the Cyclemaster Roundsman.

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The tie-up with Cyclemaster proved lucrative and, as a result, they appear to have got the ‘moped/scooter’ bug. It’s quite understandable, as just about every manufacturer wanted to cash in on these two new crazes that were revolutionizing transport. However, their next foray into motorized vehicles was not so successful.

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…Because, unfortunately, the Mercury Hermes Scooter was a total disaster. Although Mercury tried introducing several more models over the next 3 years in a desperate attempt to recoup losses, by 1958 the company went into liquidation. With such limited production, examples of the Mercury motorcycle, moped or scooters are now very hard to find.

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1956 Mercury Hermes Scooter

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Here’s some photos of my Mercury Hermes scooter. It came from the Combe Martin Motorcycle Museum in North Devon, which closed down some years ago.

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Although the German machines used the reliable Sachs engine, when Mercury built the Meister Solo-Roller under license in Great Britain, they used the JLO engine instead.

It was a decision that was to doom the Hermes to failure.

Its pull-start – similar to lawnmowers – was a troublesome device, and because so many of the scooters were returned for repair under the warranty, Mercury sued JLO for £20,000.

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Few Mercury Hermes scooters were still on the road by the following year; though mine was first registered by Birmingham County Council in 1958, so I assume it must have remained unsold in a shop somewhere until a gullible customer bought it. Its taxdisc shows an expiry date of 31st December 1959, and the pull-start on the engine is broken, so I assume this one suffered the same fate as the others, and did not last more than a year before it came off the road.

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Meister Solo Roller

Compare the Hermes with its ancestor, the Meister Solo-Roller, which came on the market in Germany in 1955.

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The 1955 Solo Mammut-Roller (below) sported the same 50cc Sachs engine as the Meister.

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Below you have a better view of the accessories on offer.

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Published on February 21, 2008 at 7:29 am  Comments (1)  

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