If you’re into three-wheeled motorcycles or old, quirky vehicles in general, check out this new auction listing at Bonhams. You may not have heard of the Seal brand before, but that won’t stop you from squinting, furrowing your brow and maybe cocking your head at this uniquely fascinating 1925 motorcycle hybrid.
From Britain’s National Motorcycle Museum collection, this 1925 Seal Family Motorcycle Combination will be auctioned off during the International Classic MotorCycle Show in Stafford, UK, on June 2-4, 2021.
A production vehicle made by Seal Motors Ltd. from Hulme, Manchester, this hybrid proves that engineers were challenging the definition of a motorcycle more than 80 years before Spyders and Slingshots.
The first thing you may have noticed from the photos is that the actual motorcycle has no place for a rider. No seat, no handlebar, no footpegs. All controls—including a car steering wheel—are inside the covered driving compartment.
The motorcycle unit features a 980cc JAP V-twin engine mated to a three-speed countershaft gearbox and a chain drive. Both of the rear wheels are drive wheels, and the chassis was built specifically for this setup—the sidecar was not an afterthought.
Inside the sidecar you’ll find a steering wheel with a throttle control attached, a shifter outside the right window mated directly to the motorcycle’s gearbox, and a speedometer that goes up to 60mph. With a sleek body, windshield, convertible canopy, and seating for four, the Seal Family Motorcycle Combination would have been quite the competent family vehicle in 1925. If only we knew how it handled...
The whole reason for the design was, as Seal advertised, to offer "the comforts of a car at the cost of a motorcycle combination." That cost referred to registration fees of putting a motorcycle on the road in the UK at the time compared to a four-wheeled auto. Plus, as Seal posited at the time, "Who would ride on a saddle, exposed to all weather and road mud? No one, only those who do not know the Seal."
Gallery: 1925 Seal Family Motorcycle Combination
If you’re prepared to bid on the unit you see here, be mindful that the vehicle’s mechanical condition is not known. However, it’s probably best suited for another collection rather than being put back on the road. It is not known how many were ever made, but records indicate this is one of just two still in existence.