Many motorcyclists of today, myself included, will surely be unfamiliar with the motorcycle manufacturer that went by the name of Dollar. Indeed, after spending quite a bit of time researching about the now-defunct brand, I’ve found that very little information, if at all, is available.
What I was able to uncover, however, is that Dollar motorcycles was a French motorcycle brand with operations prior to the Second World War, more specifically from 1925 to 1939. The company was made by Ets. Delachanel in the French commune of Joinville-le-Pont.
Back in the day, Dollar’s motorcycles were considerably high performance, with the brand focusing on two-stroke engines with displacements ranging from 98cc to 750cc. The bigger engines in Dollar’s arsenal were particularly impressive, with overhead valves and four cylinders. Meanwhile, the smaller motors consisted of single and twin-cylinder configurations. As for the bikes themselves, they made use of sheet metal frames and featured a Cardan shaft final drive—similar to what we find in modern day BMWs. Apart from developing its own engines, Dollar also used Chaise overhead valve engines.
At the 1923 Motor Show, the company debuted its first model, a 125cc powered by a Moser engine. The brand adopted the name Dollar and a logo with the effigy of an Indian head in order to appeal to the then-growing number of motorcyclists, and capitalize on the interest in post-war American and British models, which are reminiscent of the incredibly stylish Harley-Davidsons and Triumphs.
Dollar saw a great boom in the late 1920s and early 1930s and unveiled ground-breaking new models every year. It excelled in numerous races held at the period in France, demonstrating the high caliber machinery and mechanics created by Maurice Chaise. The firm was weakened in 1930 by the crisis-related takeover by Omnium Métallurgie et Industriel (OMI) and the 1936 social upheavals. The company's operations were eventually discontinued by the Second World War.
With that brief intro of Dollar Motorcycles out of the way, we’ll soon be able to learn more about this historic French company as it will be showcased at the upcoming Retromobile show to be held at Porte de Versailles in February, 2023. With just a decade in existence, Dollar has left an impression in French motorcycle history books, thanks to the use of technology that was well ahead of its time. The Retromobile show is scheduled to happen from February 1 to 5, 2023, and is a show traditionally more oriented towards vintage and classic cars. In the case of Dollar Motorcycles, around twenty models ranging from 1926 to 1936 will be on display.