Live Auctions

Rare and Restored: 1969 Velorex 16/350

Microcars have a strong following in the classic community, with some makes and models more common than others. Vehicles like the Isetta and Messerschmitt enjoy strong recognition, although the field also features some rarer and more quirky offerings. One of those is the Velorex 16/350, a three-wheeled classic with its own unique design features. Designed principally as transport for people with a disability, they have developed a following in the classic world thanks to their basic engineering principles and ease of maintenance. This 1969 Velorex is a tidy example that has undergone restoration. It has no apparent needs and would suit a buyer seeking an unusual turnkey vehicle to park in their garage. It is listed here on eBay in Hookstown, Pennsylvania. Bidding has raced beyond the reserve and sits at $2,850.

Vehicle manufacturers have long grappled with the question of panel materials, considering the best option for their offerings. Most follow the safe route of using steel, while others choose aluminum and even timber. Recent technological developments have seen plastic and composite materials gaining traction, but I can’t think of many who’ve seen vinyl as the perfect choice. I can’t imagine cladding a vehicle like a Pontiac GTO or Mustang with vinyl, but it makes perfect sense with a car like this 1969 Velorex. The company developed this model primarily as transport for people with physical disabilities, equipping it with an engine that offered a modest power output. The car’s frame is made from steel, but saving weight was key to ensuring adequate performance while maintaining some semblance of weather protection. Therefore, selecting vinyl was an act of pure genius. The material is light, water-resistant, cheap, and easy to maintain, repair, or replace. The seller indicates this 16/350 underwent a total restoration, with the frame powdercoated and the fenders and fuel tank treated to two-stage paint. I believe they probably replaced the vinyl because its condition is excellent for a Velorex of this vintage. The top fits as tight as a drum, the windshield is new, and the wire wheels look perfect. Overall, it seems like the buyer won’t spend much on this classic beyond the purchase price.

Three-wheel cars have a reputation for being unstable when push comes to shove, although the Velorex’s single rear wheel offers greater stability than those manufacturers who pursued the single front wheel route. Velorex powered the 16/350 with a 343cc twin-cylinder air-cooled Jawa motorcycle engine that sends its 16hp to the rear wheel via a four-speed manual transmission and a chain drive. One of the “luxuries” that owners didn’t receive was a reverse gear in the transmission. That sounds like a shocking oversight, but the company offered an ingenious solution. The 16/350 featured a system called “Dynastart.” It allows the driver to stop the engine and restart it rotating in the opposite direction. This gave the driver access to four reverse gears and theoretically provided the same top speed in both directions! I’m unsure whether anyone has tested that theory, but if you buy this classic and decide to do so, I’m happy to be an interested observer from a safe distance! If the driver keeps the pedal pressed to the boards, the Velorex could achieve a top speed of 55mph. However, its comfortable cruising speed is a more sedate 35mph, which is respectable for a vehicle of this type. The seller indicates the engine is rebuilt after a slight overbore. They don’t specifically say how it runs or drives, but the physical condition allows us to be quietly optimistic.

When you climbed aboard a Velorex, you would never examine the interior and mistakenly believe you were in a Cadillac. The equipment levels represent motoring at its most basic, with a speedometer, a steering wheel, and switches for the headlamps and windshield wiper. There are no luxuries like a radio or power windows, and if you want air conditioning, it’s as simple as dropping the top. Joking aside, this classic’s interior presents well, The red vinyl upholstery looks bright, and there is no wear. It is another aspect of the vehicle that appears to need nothing.

It would be easy to have a field day at the expense of this 1969 Velorex 16/350, reeling off joke after joke about its unusual body material. However, it doesn’t deserve such treatment. Its panel material may seem unusual, but it makes perfect sense. The Velorex is a small car with a tiny motor and modest power output. Draping its exterior with steel panels would add considerable weight, virtually killing its performance potential. Aluminum or plastic may seem viable alternatives, but these would still add weight, along with cost and complexity. Sometimes, a manufacturer needs to think outside the square during vehicle development, and Velorex did so with the 16/350. So, if you like quirky classics and aren’t afraid of people making a few misplaced jokes at your car’s expense, maybe this is the perfect candidate to park in your garage.

Comments

  1. nlpnt

    “Simplify and add lightness” – Colin Chapman

    Like 6
  2. Blyndgesser

    An umbrella on wheels.

    Like 3
  3. Mark

    Belongs in a museum. A vehicle specifically designed for the disabled from WW2 is not something I would drive for “fun”.

    Like 1
  4. Russell

    “…the engine and restart it rotating in the opposite direction. ” Common in two stroke cars IE Subaru 360 I used to own …

    Like 3
  5. cncbny

    I dont think auto zone would have brake pads on the shelf for this one

    Like 3
    • Jimbosidecar

      Probably not but Velorex has a distributor in the US as they still manufacture sidecars. I’ll bet the sidecar brakes will fit as the wheels looks like they were taken from the sidecar

      Like 1
  6. Lukin R.

    Czech rarity – the world’s only one homologated car with canvas body :)

    Screen used in “Vrchní, prchni!”

  7. Malcolm Boyes

    Love to have this.As the previous owner of two Berkeley T60’s..front wheel drive with one wheel at the back ( same as the 4 wheeler from the back of the doors to the front) I can say that the two wheels at the front make these microcars handle as well as the four wheelers. I was fast cruising in my Berk being followed by a similar Berk 4 wheeler and I flew around a roundabout faster than him. I think this car would be a joy to own..

    Like 3
  8. Chuckster

    What is the feature about this that would make it appealing to a person with some sort of disability?

    Like 3
    • Shaun Martin

      Um, reverse gear

  9. Howie

    You need parts for a what? $3,550 now.

  10. Carl Brunette

    Does it have a heater/defroster?

  11. chrlsful

    these things always seemed silly w/their cloth covers but then I realized, not every1 lived in my climate. Nice’n lite, could be of benefit. Just like my motorcycle not much use, nice to have such a spare tho. Almost not worth the registration, insur, licensing, etc, etc…
    Glad to see the “2 up frnt”, wish it hada 45 MPH cruz (our ‘commute rds), hope itsa 4 stroke~
    Thnx Adam !

  12. Gerard Frederick

    The Heinkel Kabine had a single cylinder 175cc 4 stroke developing around 10 hp and achieving 50 mph all day long. In addition it featured a steel body, 2 comfy seats and a ¨lxurious¨ interior with a radio So why did this minimal minalist run out of steam at 55?. It´s performance equals that of the even more diminutive Kleinschnittger, the cutest and smallest sport roadster ever to grace any road? The Jawa 350 twin was a very good engine, incidentally.

  13. Kelly Breen

    A small inexpensive car makes sense. In my municipality there is a by law that permits ATV’s and they are a common sight on our secondary roads.
    I would drive that car in a heartbeat.
    I think it would look better with plastic panels like what was on a Saturn, but the vinyl was almost genius.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.