You’re lying asleep in the middle of the path. In a corner of your dreams you hear a faint rumbling, getting louder by the second. You open one eye, then the other – immediately – to try and focus on the strange apparition approaching fast. The picture above is what you see. What is it? A curious mechanical insect about to trample and devour you? An alien spacecraft bearing down on you to convey you to Mars? Then you realise …this is no alien spacecraft …it was built here on Earth …in 1947. Phew. You’re safe. It’s…
‘THE FINEST THING ON THREE WHEELS…’
BUILT IN THE TRADITION OF BRITISH PRECISION ENGINEERING.
BUILT FOR STRENGTH – BUILT FOR SAFETY – BUILT FOR YOUR GIRL OR BOY.
IMPORTED FROM ENGLAND – THE WAVEX WIZARD TRICYCLE
AVAILABLE IN AMERICA FOR THE FIRST TIME
1947 Wavex All-Star Wizard Tricycle
Lines Bros (Triang) dominated sales of kid’s bicycles, tricycles and toys in Great Britain before and after WW2.
In the late 1940s, our country was saddled with an enormous war debt to America, so all new cars and motorcycles had to be exported to raise much-needed foreign exchange. Our primary export market was the USA.
Most British factories had turned their premises over to war production during the war. With a return to peace, the British government assisted many companies to set up export businesses. The British company Mercury Industries Ltd was a prime example: Mercury bicycles were exported and also supplied to Cyclemaster Ltd – another new company established by EMI with government help – for fitting Cyclemaster engines.
Wavex Engineering Ltd built the most elaborately ‘streamlined’ children’s tricycle for the American market, and a New York office was opened on 5th Ave to handle sales. In a normal market environment, Lines Bros or another large cycle company would have been better situated to export and retail such an item, but I suspect that during this period, US import tariffs must have been lowered to help British government-backed exporters such as Wavex. So it was that the most advanced children’s tricycle ever built in England was the product of an unknown small independent London company. My research has only turned up one other fact about Wavex: in 1953, its director S. Bobroff bought a Bentley:
‘One of just 34 Bentley R-Types to be bodied as a Lightweight Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner, chassis B136TN was exhibited on the famous coachbuilder’s stand at the 1953 Earls Court Motor Show. Following the Show, chassis B136TN was supplied to S. Bobroff Esq of Wavex Engineering Ltd.’
I wonder what Mr. Bobroff did during the war to help the British? – there’s definitely a story waiting to be told about Wavex Engineering!
The tricycle itself is a marvel of detail that would have made it the envy of any child. The curved pedal cranks, enclosed mudguards (called ‘fender skirts’ in America) and unique headlamp style bell are its stand-out features. But it also has dual-controlled brakes and adjustable handlebars and seat (the company advertised that it grew up with the child from age three to eight). The backbone curves wonderfully to the seat support. This is a top quality design that would have required the expertise of specialists. These advanced features are reminiscent of pre-war American streamlined cars, trains and bicycles, designed by famous stylists such as Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky (to compare his designs PLEASE CLICK HERE).
I’ve not come across any of these tricycles in the USA, and I doubt that many were sold in Great Britain. This unrestored Wavex Wizard is a rare survivor.
CURVED PEDAL CRANKS