Old Woodies for Enthusiasts of Wood-bodied Cars and Trucks

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Red Bug

The Little Buckboard Woodie

Red Bug woodieRed Bugs are small, two passenger, wooden buckboard cyclecars that were produced from 1914 to about 1930. Early Red Bugs where powered by a fifth wheel with an integral motor. The Smith Motor Wheel and the Smith Flyer were first manufactured by the A.O. Smith Co. of Milwaukee in 1914. Five years later, Briggs and Stratton bought the manufacturing rights and produced the little woodie for several years.

The rights were sold to Majestic Engineering & Manufacturing Co., later known as Automotive Electric Service Company of North Bergen, New Jersey in 1924. Now called Red Bug or Auto Red Bug, production of the car continued. For a while, the Red Bug was powered by either the Motor Wheel or a Dodge 12 volt electric starter motor. The Motor Wheel was ultimately replaced with a five horsepower Cushman engine with chain drive to the rear wheels. The company was renamed Automotive Standards and in 1928, and an amusement park version featuring a wrap-around bumper was announced.

In March 1930, a news report indicated that the Indian Motorcycle Company in Springfield, MA was to build the diminutive vehicle on a "cost plus" basis. Little is known of the Red Bug after this date. After all, it was the depression and a new Red Bug sold for more than a used Model T Ford.

Red Bug woody

Red Bug Specifications
  • Wheelbase - 62 inches
  • Track - 30 inches
  • Weight - 150-240 Pounds, varies with motor and batteries
  • Chassis - Ash wood
  • Top Speed - 12-25 MPH, Gasoline; 8-16 MPH, Electric
  • Wheels - 20 x 2" clincher (early non-drive wheels 20 x 1-5/8")
  • Price - About $150 in the late 1910's, $300 in 1928
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