Twin Engines! 1961 McCulloch R1 Go Kart

You might recognize the McCulloch name for their superchargers, but back in the ’60s, they also built go-karts. And when I say they built go-karts, I mean they built super cool go-karts! Just take a look at this 1961 McCulloch R1 that’s listed here on eBay in Seattle, Washington with a current bid of $1,775. This isn’t just your run of the mill backyard kart. No, this is the kind of kart you bought if you were looking to race in the top class, as it’s equipped with not one engine, but two!

Today, you can get a go-kart with some serious horsepower, a paddle-shift transmission, and a top speed in excess of 100 mph, but back in the ’60s twin engine karts were at the top of the performance rung (there were a few triple engine karts out there). I’m sure McCulloch’s engineers could have figured out how to mount a supercharger to one of their two-stroke engines to produce more power, but slapping a second engine on the chassis was likely a whole lot easier and quicker way to double the horsepower. This pair of MC-6s displace 87 ccs each and are each good for about 5 horsepower. A total of 10 hp might not sound that crazy, but when this kart was new, it was a speed machine.

The seller isn’t sure what condition the engines are in, but they both turn over. Rebuilding them shouldn’t be all that difficult, but chances are they just need the carbs serviced and a tune-up. Included in the sale is a box full of spare parts. Hopefully, everything is here to get this one going again. Compared to modern shifter karts, this thing is incredible spartan, but that just makes it cooler in my book and a whole lot easier to restore!

This really is a cool find and it sure would be a blast to have! I’m not sure what all it will take to restore it, but given how basic it is, it seems like it would be a fairly simple task. The frame appears to be free of damage or old repairs, which hopefully means that with some fresh tires and the engines running, you would be able to take it out for a spin. I will let our karting experts weigh in on what it will take to restore this one and what to expect when you take it out for its first drive.

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Comments

  1. geomechs geomechs Member

    Go Karts have been around for a long time. We had one on the ranch when I was a kid. It was powered by a 2 1/2 hp Clinton engine and it would got maybe 20 mph. Still it was a lot of fun for me and my friends. A friend of mine decided to go one better than even two engines. How about a JATO rocket? https://gearheadsncoffeestains.blogspot.com/2012/08/rocket-man.html

    10
    • Dave

      By chance, did that Clinton engine have an exposed hub that you had to wrap the rope around, and a steel tang that you had to hold against the spark plug to kill it? 60 years later, I still remember how it kicked like a mule when my finger slipped off the tang! Learned to do that job with my foot!

      17
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        All of the above. I also remember when a bunch of my friends got together, one of them was leaning over the engine while it was running and got zapped. I’m still trying to figure out how he got down there…

        5
      • Al

        Clinton engine lol, there’s a blast from the past. My lil Indian had a 3hp clinton on it back in ’73. Of course something went wrong & as 12.5 yrs old , we were certified mechanics then to disassemble to discover the problem. If we knew what a problem looked like. Needless to say, the engine never got put back together again.

        2
      • geomechs geomechs Member

        You know there were some farmers out west that wanted nothing to do with that famed ‘Arrowhead.’ And there were some who completely relied on them. The ones that we had never missed a beat. I often wonder what became of not only Clinton but others like Tecumseh/Lauson. Forty years ago they were everywhere. Now it seems like Briggs and Stratton is the only one left in a world of crap I can’t begin to pronounce the name of…

        1
    • Larry Ashcraft

      We (my brother and I) also had one with a 2.5 HP Clinton, but it was clocked at 40 MPH. My dad built an oval track around the garden with banked turns. We had hours of fun on that! (Talking early 60s, BTW.) We started ours by pushing and then jumping in.

      4
      • Christopher Jackson

        This message is for the group. I have a McCulloch MC-6 that has a Jim Rathmann gear reduction drive on it. I haven’t been able to find another like it. Can anyone tell me what i have?

  2. Howard A Member

    This post will hit nerves of people, IDK, say 50 and over? When I was a kid in the 60’s, go-karts were HUGE. There were always several go-kart tracks in the area, some at amusement park, but the real cool ones were stand alone operations, maybe with a miniature golf course for the wusses ( kidding) Until we all got our licenses, karting was it. It gave us the skills to drive a real car.
    I didn’t know McCulloch built go-karts, I know they were a big chainsaw motor supplier. My old man had an old McCulloch chainsaw, we called “The Widowmaker”. We tried to get it for a go-kart ourselves, but the old man refused. Twin engine karts like this had a short history. Small engines hadn’t yet got powerful enough, so 2 were needed. They were a pain to tune in synch, but if you got it, these things would scream. Sadly, liability has claimed all but the big tracks, and the karts are so “cut back”, it’s barely fun, not unlike NASCAR,,,I know that was a low blow, but it’s true. Great find, but not for the faint of heart, for sure. And for the record, a “supercharger” for a 2 stroke, would be an expansion chamber, which I don’t see here. If I’m not mistaken, a supercharger on a 4 stroke, forces the charge in, while, a 2 stroke, it’s advantageous to get the exhaust out faster, hence the chamber. They do make a big difference. Cool find.

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    • Dave

      My brother had one with twin 2stroke 9 hp engines … the thing was scary fast !

      1
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Drove a friend’s 3 engine cart once while in college. They were Mcculloch chain saw engines, a bit smaller than these. Didn’t get to the top speed but at around 80mph, with no helmet or goggles, my eyes started watering and I couldn’t see. I think maybe that was a good thing as far as my survival was concerned. Never did find out how fast the cart would go. This cart is well built and the first one like it I’ve ever seen.

    8
  4. theagent39

    I raced this exact same go-kart in the late 70’s. Yes, it would do 100-105 mph on the straight away!

    14
  5. Randy Forbes

    I have the same kart today, except it runs a pair of Mc91s. It was a basketcase when I got the frame and a few parts back in 2004, but via locals and ebay, had it restored within a few months. I most recently took it to a Vintage Karting Association (VKA) meet in Bushnell, Florida this past January for a thorough thrashing out on the track. I would say that vintage kart popularity__and prices (parts, engines and whole karts)__has at least doubled since the early 2000s.
    Some pictures of mine here: http://spcarsplus.com/piwigo/index.php?/category/193

    5
    • denny knebel

      i had one–it was a mac 300–color was light blue-not yellow-my parents bought it new for me-i’m still looking for a mac cart today–if that was in st.louis area-it would be mine–if anyone knows of one near st.louis–contact me please-CLKDLK2672@yahoo.com–hope to hear from someone please

  6. Fred W

    Just wondering what happens if by chance the left and right engines aren’t running at the exact same speed?

    4
    • Arby

      You go round and round.

      2
      • Dave

        Like Ratt?

        4
    • Chris

      Live axel so no chance if that.

      3
  7. AMISHTRUCKER

    Guy in our neighborhood had a similar set up. I’m pretty sure it was the twin chainsaw set up. You’d hear it all the way in the back of the neighborhood, like a swarm of bees, and he would rip past the house doing an easy 70mph. There’s an enormous track not too far over the Indiana Ohio line, on the Indy side. You’d think it was a Nascar event with all the RV’s and trailers there.

    7
    • Jerry Brown

      Thats the TRack at NewCastle in Indiana , Spiceland to be exact and it is a Major desitination for current National races

      1
      • John

        The track at NewCastle in Indiana is having a vintage event this weekend.

        2
  8. Teach35 Member

    WOW, yes this brings back memories for this 69 year old. My neighbor had one of these things, 1963 we had a local track that did go under. I got one myself in 1963, it had the Clinton engine with the rope start and the finger shut off on the spark plug. I forgot all about that until Dave above mentioned it. I replaced it with B&S 5 hp and drove it on the dirt roads by our cabin. Had a belt system that I had stacked pulleys on that one side was for speed other was for power, hill climbing. Fun times and did teach me to drive at age of 13.

    3
  9. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    There is a nice kart track near me that still rents race karts. Near Brodhead Wis. Cant think of her name now, Aaron Rodgers wife used to race there as a kid. Pretty fun place. https://sugarriverraceway.com/

    5
  10. Chas358 Chas358 Member

    When I was high school, many years ago, 🙄 I was crazy about go-carts and mini-bikes. I bought a new Clinton engine from a mail order ad in a magazine. Came home from school early one day which I never did, (didn’t feel well) and my new Clinton engine had arrived! I was so geeked I mounted it to the work bench and ran it off and on for a few days. Finally installed it on the mini-bike. My buddie’s Mom clocked me at 35 MPH. I was happy kid.

    8
  11. Hemidave

    Awesome to find in as is condition nearly complete. It will bring big money and hopefully never be restored. Get it running or hang on the wall? I have two Go kart 1200s that need to be fixed one with twin Macs and other has twin Benders, Someday…

    3
    • BillCinMA

      My 70’s aluminum Stellar Super 500 frame with a purpose made McCulloch MC101 Kart motor is unrestored and hanging on my garage wall.

      What is a kart 1200s motor?

      2
  12. emeltz Member

    They also made the J-2 autogyro around that time. One of the only type certificated gyro planes in the U.S.

    https://airfactsjournal.com/2017/10/whirlygig-troubled-life-j-2-autogyro/

    3
    • BillCinMA

      Those were the McCulloch MC101 Kart motor with tapered output shaft, and with a round shaft, for light aircraft. They were not painted yellow, and the shrouding was chrome plated with a large American flag decal.

  13. Max

    I remember we called them Mac 90,s and they were hard to push start. 12 year old lungs helped.

    2
  14. Steve Feld Member

    We spent a lot of time that summer of ’69 pushing a friend’s McCullouch-powered go-kart to get it started. My buddy finally agreed to let me take a seat in the kart at the edge of the church parking lot, and with a short push the engine came alive at high RPM. I rode the brakes hard to stop as the end of the parking lot was coming up fast – direct drive, no clutch! No engine kill switch either – whew.

    4
    • BillCinMA

      Steve Feld – In the summer of 71, my friend’s newly purchased used go-kart, had a McCullouch with, twin carburetors and velocity stacks, exhaust (unmuffled) deflector, direct drive (which meant it was setup for racing) engine. To get it started, three of us would pick up the rear, fast walk it to speed and slam it down to overcome that first compression stroke. We always lost sight of him being on mini bikes, until it was gas-up time. It was so loud with unmuffled intake and exhaust! Eventually it caused local irritation from no stop driving and noise. A stone down the intake put it out of commission and was traded for a tachometer that was stolen from his school locker.

  15. Rex E Rice

    In the 50’s i had a cart without an engine so borrowed one from my dad’s lawn mower. Without a proper clutch, it soon wore out.

    2
  16. Craig

    My cousin in a small town in Texas had one in the early 60s . It was fast. A lot of dirt roads . You could hear it see a dot in the middle of a cloud of dust coming at you. His dad would load it in his truck and take us to the high school to ride and leave us. The highway in front of the school speed limit was 70. After a while my cousin would get on the shoulder and get up enough speed to pass vehicles. Well he passed his dad coming to get us. Next year when I visited it had one engine. The next time it was gone. Fun while it lasted.

    6
    • BillCinMA

      Wish I could leave a sad emoji symbol for you. Same story with me, a friend passing cars w/his kart
      . Still regret not having a chance to buy it after he finished abusing it.

  17. Mike

    Those were the days that Go Kart was the Ultimate in cool.

    4
  18. Rick

    This story brought back memories growin up in the 60’s. Anything with wheels was unsafe around us. I was driving my minibike when I heard a weird noise. I turned around and saw my gas tanks was on fire. I remeber one guy had a minibike with a small motorcycle on it. We would also go the the Detroit Race Course (DRC) to make runs.

    3
  19. tesla209 Member

    WOW! If it was $700 I would go pick it up! Wildest rides I ever had! The stories I can tell! Survived a twin engine with the gas tied on because the rider before me broke the throttle. Only way to stop was hit max speed, and spin until centrifugal force starved the gas from the motors. Took a few try’s. I still shiver thinking about it. I rolled off one just before it slid under a car. Hit my head on the rear axle of the car, but I still had my head! People watching thought I was dead! The good ole days! More fun than anything in that price range. I want it!

    4
  20. C5 Corvette

    I wanted one of these so bad. Even with 1 engine. But alas, we were far from wealthy so no could do! Several kids in the neighborhood had them, and I got to ride once in awhile. I promised myself someday I would drive something really nice. Well flash forward 50 years and I have had so many nice cars that I have lost count. Presently I’m on Corvette #4, a beautiful C5 LS1 in Black.

    3
  21. Will Irby

    Ah, this brings back memories! A few people in the neighborhood had karts with various frames (McCulloch, Pat Patrick, etc., and later Birel, Coyote, and Margay) and engines (McCulloch, West Bend, and Clinton were the most common, with Parilla, Yamaha, etc. coming along a little later). One guy lived about 7 blocks away, and I knew he was on his way over when I heard him crank his kart. We had a couple of local sprint kart tracks, where Lake Speed dominated for years. He won the U.S. Karting championship six times, before winning the world championship in ’78, beating a few other notables including Ayrton Senna. He is still active in vintage karts:

    https://www.lakespeed.com/our-history-1

    4
  22. luckylugnut

    Yep, my neighbor had a single McCulloch engined cart. They used an old bag truck with a car battery and car starter attached, to start the thing.
    I was told it was capable of 60MPH.
    And with your a$$ only inches from the ground, even 45 seemed darned fast.
    I remember it was loud as hell too.

    3
  23. William Cockayne Member

    My father bought us one back in the 70`s. We could ride it all over the paths in the woods and fields behind the house, but could not ride it in the backyard. We had a long straight a way coming down the road between the gardens. I learned to come down that lane full bore and at the last minute hit the brake and crank the steering wheel and do a complete 180 before I hit the backyard. One time I was halfway through the 180 when the tires caught some exposed tree roots and flipped it multiple times. Broke a few fingers, broke the muffler and fuel tank off the cart. Dad hung it up from the rafters never to be ridden again.

    2
  24. Patrick Anderson

    In the LA suburbs of my youth, it seemed like the local fuzz lived to bust kids riding go karts and mini bikes on local streets. You’d see someone riding by, then a few minutes later they would come the other way, pushing their ride, sometimes with a ticket in hand. A couple of local crazies got chased by the cops and decided to take the.kart on the freeway, one standing on the rear frame and holding on to the seat. He bails, hops the fence and gets away. I don’t remember what happened to the driver.

    3
  25. Will Irby

    That’s hilarious! I think if I would have seen that in L.A., I would have assumed it was being filmed for a movie scene.

    2
  26. Patrick Farmer

    In Houston it rains an awful lot, that didn’t stop me and a friend from raising hell on my street. It was a single engine go kart. The best days were when it was hot and just enough rain to get the street wet, but not the ground under my neighbors front lawns. The lawns were used to ditch into. We would get going about 20mph and yank the wheel and spin/slide down the street. If it rained to hard it would wash off the oil on the street and it wasn’t as fun. The last time we raised hell we were 35 years old just before I gave it to my sister so she could enter it in the art car parade which is held every year. I am saving a 20 horse engine to use in a new go kart for the grand kids.

    3
  27. Jaker76

    Friend of mine had one of these that was second hand back in 64 or 65, we had a blast taking turns terrorizing the roads around the old swimming pool and golf course!!! Seems like we both got grounded a lot back in those days and one day, his dad sold it, lol!!! Ah to be 11 or 12 yr old small town kijd again!!! back in those days, not now tho!

    1
  28. MattR Member

    Great stories. I am 50 years old and my boy is 9. Lately I have been thinking about how to get him to know how to use tools and I thought about getting him a go kart kit and having him do most of the work putting it together with my guidance. I found this azusa kit: https://azusaeng.com/product/go-kart-kits/ – frankly it was the ONLY kit I found. It looks well made, but I am surprised at the cost. They were so cheap when I was young. That said, I think the experience with my son will be worth it. He will put the time in to get it done and sure he will know a lot about basic tools afterward. I look forward to it.

    6
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I’m glad to hear that you are taking a positive approach to get your boy into something that he’ll be able to build skills on. I’ve always said that one of the best gifts you could get your kids is a set of tools. So many just get I-pads and cellphones and do nothing but play video games. I bookmarked that page and am going to send it to my SIL. He’s got (almost) five kids and he takes them out to the shop to show them things. Maybe a go-kart will help things out immensely…

      5
      • MattR Member

        geomechs I have a few projects ahead of this, but I will follow up with pics. Thanks for the kind words. It’s my daily challenge to get him away from a screen. He’s a great kid though. I’m blessed.

        2
  29. DavidH

    Yes I am 60 and I remember the McCullogh twin engine carts and we usually heard them before we saw them. Someone in our neighborhood had to bring one of these to our race track to show us up which was done pretty easily even with just one motor operational.
    Our “go kart “ was a lot of fun but consisted of a scrap of plywood, with a 2×4 to support and steer the front wheels that came off an old wagon. A mostly centered pulley on a rear wheel, hook whatever belt could be found to some old lawn mower motor, fill it with $0.37 per gallon gas, stuff a rag in the fuel tank because we lost the gas cap, wind a piece of clothesline around the flywheel and remember to stop as quick as your Chuck Taylor high tops allowed when your friends who were waiting their turn started to scream and wave their arms. That meant the makeshift fuel cap had got to close to the straight pipe exhaust catching on fire and someone couldn’t wait to be next.

    7
  30. Mike

    As a couple of grease monkey kids, my friend and I found a two cylinder McCullough chain saw, at a yard sale, for like $10. It made like 8hp. That engine on a gokart was crazy fast. We tried working a 3 speed transmission, from a Toro riding lawn mower into the equation, by changing the pulley sizes, but they kept blowing apart.The last engine on the kart, was from a 320 Olympique Skidoo. 18hp air cooled one lunger. FUN TIMES!

    3
  31. Al

    More comments on this than any other listing I can recall. We still have a great competitive track nearby operating every weekend during our short summers. Also have a rental place within 5 or so miles of the racetrack with some pretty decent (read quick) carts. Oh to be young enough to get out of one of these again. Hard enough to exit my C4.

    2
  32. Reid Hall

    Wow, l didn’t realize how collectible, and or desirable these have become, the one l had my first cousin had, then l got it,and still have it,mine is red with a white seat, with,black stripe,and higher seat,with short seat side’s,l believe it originally had the Clinton motor,it ran for years, original gas tank rusted out, but still run’s,with a plastic tank, a believe my Dad, and or brother upgraded to a 5hp.,Honda motor,but why, l think 1 Clinton motor is more than plenty of power.

    1
  33. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Thanks for posting this, Barn Finds.
    And thanks to all for sharing their stories!
    Very entertaining.

    My only go cart was a home made special with baby carriage wheels and was powered by whoever you could get to push you around.

    5
    • Will Irby

      Haha! I had one of those too–orange crate body, 2×6 single frame rail, and a “steering rope” attached to both ends of a 2×4 that pivoted on a single bolt through the front of the frame rail. Brakes? Who needed brakes? Just turn into the yard at the bottom of the hill.

      3
  34. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Dang…lots of excitement over a kart…..we or actually my brother started out with a MC-49 which was just a base motor on a Cates frame. When he moved up to a MC-91A motor I got the MC-49 and another frame. We/me would sell it off in the 70’s but I bought it back and restored it for him for his 30th birthday as he had a young boy – my nephew. Sadly he let a buddy have it to bond with his step kids out of town and it was lost in that friends divorce. Still pissed at that loser friend of his that comes around every now and then.

    1
  35. Michael Ridley

    wow sold for almost 5000$ I was thinking it might get to 3k

    1
  36. Alan Peckenpaugh

    We still race these….. Google : Vintage Karting

    • denny knebel

      was hoping a few listings of some mac 300 karts for sale–you forgot to list some (ha ha) they also made a mac 200 kart–i believe they were marroon–think they made a mac 100 kart also–not sure on the 100 model

  37. diamond farmer

    Thanks for all the comments. Brought back a lot of memories. Went to school in Quincy Ill. Cart racing was big their as well as in West Quincy Mo (across the river) 1969-72 Came from MI during muscle-car era and used to speed but did 50-60 mph in a duel Mac engine go cart and I shake a little writing about it now. they laughed at me cuz that was like half throttle. Have a MR2 spider now—-call it my go-cart on steroids. never forgot the handling. Thanks for the grins–gonna look for a local track

  38. chrlsful

    kids, yes. adults, no. If I could ‘get down in it’. It’s like ridin a skate board (ohhh, they do it). Y get wipped arounf like that, knees cruched up, tryin to get elbows’n wrists together? Tiny wheels. Me up-over-on top? Naw, no fun. Get a lill bigger wheels, a drop frame, legs straight, knees un-bent. Now I can dig it…

    Think of the motorcycle side car racer (the co-pilot that is).

  39. Dave Miller

    Back in the late 70’s a friend from school had one I think it had a left and right hand motors they would go down the street during that time I spent a whole summer at a lawn mower shop I learned a lot

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