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Autocycle A B C

No.15 - Malvern Star

Although not a British make, the Malvern Star, both in its history and appearance, closely follows the pattern of its British cousins.  Malvern Star Bicycles was founded in the early years of this century by Tom Finnegan who ran a small bicycle shop in Malvern, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.  Ton Finnegan retired in 1920 but, under the ownership of Bruce Small and with the publicity gained from its association with the renowned racing cyclist Sir Hubert Opperman, Malvern Star grew greatly in size.  From producing five bicycles a week in the 1920s to having 100 branches and 1,000 agencies throughout Australia by 1945.  Through a series of mergers and take-overs it became part of General Accessories, Australia's largest cycle maker in 1980.  Although different sources dispute the date when Malvern Star began production of autocycles in Australia, the Malvern Star followed the pattern of British autocycle and it is most likely that their first model was a Junior Deluxe powered machine, built just before the War.  The evidence of surviving machines indicates that a number of autocycles was built during the war years and, as in Britain, these were intended for essential workers such as Civil Defence wardens.  There were two models, an unsprung Economy model and a de Luxe version with a pressed steel girder fork.  The Malvern Star carried the small type of fuel tank, like many of its pre-war British counterparts, and was finished in black with cream tank panels.  After the war, the Junior powered model was replaced by one using the Villiers 2F engine.  This 2F-engined model was identical to the British-built Norman (or Rambler) autocycle; its manufacture was short-lived, ceasing in 1952.  Although the Malvern Star name survives it is now carried by Taiwanese-built bicycles.

Malvern Star Auto-Byke
Brochure for the Post War,
Villiers JDL version of
the Malvern Star Auto-Byke

The next article in this series will describe the New Hudson autocycle.

First published - March 1999

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