1949 Ardent Baby Scooter
with VAP4 Engine
This description comes from my sales website. I sold the Ardent Baby in 2010.
The Ardent Baby is a very rare machine. Not many were made and, apart for a few in museums, not many survive 60 years later.
But this particular one is rarer still, being the first version, with the chainset, casing and chains on the left side – in 1950, the engine was reversed.
The VAP4 engine functions well, and the scooter is totally rideable.
Manufacture Française des Scooters Ardent
47 rue Georges Clémenceau
Cannes may be known now for its film festival and beautiful beaches but the city was once also host to the manufacturer of a charming line of baby scooters made by Ardent. I’ll let The Scooter Bible (by Michael & Eric Dregni) take up the story:
‘At the end of the 1940s, the moped and the scooter were just beginning their career in France and Ardent tried to reconcile these two designs in their 1949 scooter-bike, the Baby-Scooter. It had an open tubular frame, small wheels with detachable rims, clad in slim 350 x 55 tyres, with trailing-link front suspension and rigid at the rear. The engine, ABG’s 48cc VAP4 with a cone clutch, fitted into the space between the saddle tube and the mudguard, and was topped by the fuel tank and tubular luggage rack that also held the support for a spare wheel.
Two adjustable sections formed the handlebars, from where a single lever operated the drum brakes (above), whilst a casing on the left side covered the chainset and the two chains.
The basic model was finished in red or blue, to which were added cream, green and black on the de luxe version, which also sported a spare wheel, twistgrip throttle, reserve fuel tap and Duralium pedals with rubber blocks. The whole thing weighed 55lbs and could manage 25mph.
The following year, the Baby-Scooter underwent a few alterations to the frame and trailing-link front suspension, while the engine was mounted the other way round, so that the chainset, casing and chains were now on the right hand side, with the carburettor at the front and exhaust directly to the rear. A year later and the Baby-Scooter was now provided with a large legshield integral with the front fork and an engine cover with a grille over the cylinder. There were one or two changes to rear end of the frame, and the left arm of the rear fork hinged open to release the wheel.’
A new scooter, the Azur, was introduced in 1952, followed by the company’s final model, the Esterel, in 1953. By now, however, so many manufacturers had started making cyclemotors, mopeds and scooters that, in 1954, the company ceased trading.
My friend Alain collected the Ardent for me (well, actually his daughter picked it up on her way to Disneyland as her route took her past the seller’s house; I feel a bit embarrassed when I hear how Alain sometimes enlists his family’s help in collecting my purchases from obscure locations in France). When he delivered it to me, he also gave me a spare engine that he had in his shed. The scooter doesn’t need it, as it starts easily and runs well, but it’s always useful to have one; and I do like VAP engines: I have one of the earliest VAPs in my collection.