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I have for some time been searching for missing cycle fittings (mudguards, lights, & RH Side panel) in restoration of a rather uncommon Hercules Corvette Moped rescued from scrap several years ago in the most dire of conditions. I recently received a visit from David Evans who turned up on his Phillips Panda Plus (Mk2) and we quickly realised both machines shared many common fittings! Also having a Mk1 Panda myself, all three machines in the same place for comparison and referring to manual pictures of the Corvette for the missing parts, it became clear the Hercules and Mk2 Panda used the same front forks and wheel, brake plates, both mudguards, front & rear lights and even the rear frame stay. All three machines share the Lycett saddle and most notable was use of the same stand since this component originated on the Mk1 Panda in 1959 while the Mk2 Panda and Corvette did not appear till 1960.
Though Phillips and Hercules were both Birmingham based major cycle firms, our conclusion was that Phillips probably made and supplied many of the main cycle parts to Hercules. While the petrol tank make-up and fittings are differently configured on the Hercules, the main pressings are strikingly similar to the Phillips Gadabout. The Corvette engine is Lavalette and its die cast flywheel certainly of French origin but the brake plates are clearly stamped "Made in Birmingham" and faced with such evidence it must surely bring into question the claim of Roy Bacon's book, "A-Z of British Motorcycles from the 30s, 40s, 50s" that the Corvette was no more than an imported and re-badged Lavalette. Did Phillips actually make the whole machine for Hercules? Can anyone shed more light on the puzzle?
[Phillips and Hercules (and Norman as well) were part of the British Cycle Corporation in the late 1950s, so it is quite likely that these machines had several parts in common. Phillips was also a large supplier of cycle parts to other manufacturers. The BCC, which was owned by Tube Investments, was the main rival to Raleigh at this time. In 1960, TI took over Raleigh. The entire ranges of mopeds from Raleigh, Hercules, Phillips and Norman were dropped and replaced with the familiar Mobylette-based range of machines, which was sold with Raleigh, Norman and Phillips badges.
While this goes some way to explaining the commonality of certain parts, it still does not make their origin any clearer. While it would have made sense to use British-made brakes that the company could have been making already, it is still possible that other parts - pressings for example - could have originated elsewhere. - Editor]
First published - August 1999
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