Home » This May Be The Grandest Grille Badge To Least Grand Car Ratio Ever: Cold Start

This May Be The Grandest Grille Badge To Least Grand Car Ratio Ever: Cold Start

Cs Powerdrive 1
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What caught my attention about this little three-wheeled roadster I suspect may be what also caught your attention: that huge lion-head badge in the middle of the grille. Well, to be fair, I’m not even really sure that is a grille, because this thing is rear-engined, with a two-cylinder, 15 horsepower two-stroke 322cc engine out back. I think it’s air-cooled as well? Also, this is a three-wheeler, though the body design seeks to disguise that a good bit. It’s an interesting little car I wasn’t aware of before, and it’s called a Powerdrive. Also, look at that lion head!

The Powerdrive was built from 1955 to 1957, by a designer named David Gottlieb, who had experience designing interesting and fun microcars when he designed the Allard Clipper, which I’ve actually written about before.

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You remember, right? Allard was a sports car maker who decided to get into the microcar business after the war, since there was a big and growing demand in the UK for cheap transportation.

Allard1

The Clipper was a sleek little thing and was Britain’s first fiberglass-bodied car, but it was also kind of a steaming pile and suffered all sorts of problems, including overheating all of the driving excitement that comes from a one-wheel drive (the left rear, if you’re curious) car. It wasn’t really a hit.

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Cs Powerdrive 2

The Powerdrive wasn’t really one, either. It was a bit more mature and refined than the clipper, and larger, too, able to sit three abreast in its bench seat, snugly, and if the people aren’t terribly huge, and it featured luggage compartments front and rear. Being three-wheelers meant they could get the tax breaks offered for three-wheeled cars weighing under around 900 pounds, which was a huge advantage.

You know, the Powerdrive also had only one powered wheel, the lone rear one, via chain, but somehow that seems less weird than the Clipper that powered just one on one side. I mean, it likely barely matters, but still.

Cs Powerdrive 3

According to that ad, these were £412 back in 1956, which translates to about $16,000 American dollars today. For comparison, a 1958 Austin-Healey “Bugeye” Sprite (the first year those were sold, and the closest four-wheel equivalent to this thing I can think of) sold for £669, which would compute to about $24,000 USD today. So, yeah, it was dirt cheap.

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Of course, the Bugeye Sprite is a much more real and capable car than the little Powerdrive, though the Powerdrive did have hydraulic brakes and an electric starter, and wasn’t as crude as a lot of microcars of that era.

It’s not clear how many of these were actually ever sold, and it’s hard to say they were a success – but damn, that’s a fierce lion-head.

 

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Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
25 days ago

What I got from that Clipper pic:
“I can get 70 miles to the gallon on this hog!”

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
25 days ago

I realize that I probably read waaaaaayyyy too many British classic car magazines when I saw “322cc” and my brain instantly responded with “Anzani.”

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
25 days ago

The only car good enough for Max Power!

Bob Boxbody
Bob Boxbody
25 days ago

To me it looks less like a lion, and more like a guy dressed up as a lion. Which would be a fantastic automotive mascot. Or not. One or the other.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
25 days ago
Reply to  Bob Boxbody

Tony the Tiger

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
25 days ago

Where’s the hole for the wind-up key?

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
25 days ago

Welcome to Lee Carvello’s putting challenge.
I am Carvello.
Now choOse a club… You have chosen a 3 wood. May I suggest a putter? 3 wood.
Now enter the force of your swing, I suggest feather touch. You have entered POWER DRIVE, now push 7 – 8 – 7 to swing.
Ball is in parking lot. Would you like to play again? You have selected No.

Last edited 25 days ago by Trust Doesn't Rust
Myk El
Myk El
25 days ago
Jakob K's Garage
Jakob K's Garage
25 days ago

I think it’s a bit of a Peugeot 403 rip off, but it’s a very beautiful car, so I don’t mind 😀

The Lion
The grille shape and the grille strikethrough line
Headlight and blinker pods placement

Check for yourself 😉 https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/bd/Peugeot_403_2014-09-07_13-01-55.jpg/640px-Peugeot_403_2014-09-07_13-01-55.jpg

It even has a little mustache (in the ad with the price) Magnifique!

Last edited 25 days ago by Jakob K's Garage
A. Barth
A. Barth
25 days ago

somehow that seems less weird than the Clipper that powered just one on one side

I think it’s because as humans, symmetry generally makes more sense than asymmetry.

There might also be an element of familiarity. There were a lot of motorcycles in post-war Britain, and most motorcycles at the time were propelled by a chain drive to a single rear wheel; people were accustomed to that design.

Vee
Vee
25 days ago

It looks like something you’d see in a ’40s adventure comic. “BUX BRIFFGO IN: WHAT’S WRONG-O IN THE CONGO?” Cue a panel Bux driving with a woman leaning over the side to get a full frame of leg while the text box explains four years of comic backstory in thirty six words.

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
25 days ago
Reply to  Vee

“BUX FIGHTS CRIME AROUND THE WORLD”
“BIG BUX ACTION! LITTLE BUX PRICE!”

Bux also has an unusually smart chimp and unusually dumb kid as his sidekicks.

Library of Context
Library of Context
25 days ago

“by a designer named David Gottlieb”

This is the design you get when you hire guy who makes pinball machines. (Yes, I know, this is a different David Gottlieb.)

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
25 days ago

In a stiff wind, it bounces around.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
25 days ago

Kinda looks like a baby with a pacifier in it’s mouth.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
25 days ago

When I was little I had an RC Lamborghini from Radio Shack that was one-wheel-drive. It would turn much tighter in one direction than the other. I mentioned this to my dad, who, being the engineer that he was, explained the concept of differential gearing to me. As an experiment, he added a wheel collar and a set screw to the non-powered wheel, giving it power to both rear wheels, and then it wouldn’t turn at all – unless I drove it on the back patio where there was some sand on the surface, then it would drift (though I didn’t know the term at the time).

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
25 days ago

Powerdrive sounds like the name of an album from an 80’s metal band.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
25 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

With the charting single having “turbo” in the title.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
25 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Tess Turbo was briefly their lead singer before the booze & drugs dragged her back down to Bloom County

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
25 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

Ack Thbbt!

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
25 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

I wanna be your love rhino!

A. Barth
A. Barth
25 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

*grimaces musically*

StillNotATony
StillNotATony
25 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Tuba solo!!!

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
25 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony
StillNotATony
StillNotATony
25 days ago

It’s a REAL song?!? Not just a Bloom County/Billy and the Boingers hit?

“I wanna run through your veldt!
I wanna stomple your albino

I’ll be your love rhino!”

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
25 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

It’s on the internet! It has to be real!

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
25 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony

It IS a real song: I had the incredibly flimsy 45 that was included in the book.

-of course, I was very inebriated when I finally tore it out & played it, so I can’t tell you how good or bad it was. I do seem to remember laughing the whole time, so there’s that

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
25 days ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Not gonna lie: I toyed with ACK THBT as a tag.

-if I saw that in traffic, they would get a huge grin & enthusiastic thumbs up

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
25 days ago
Reply to  TOSSABL

I have “Classics of Western Civilization”, which I bought in the ’90s, sitting on my bookshelf right now.

It’s been brought back to the front of my consciousness via the strip’s plotline where Donald Trump’s brain gets transplanted into Bill’s body.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
25 days ago
Reply to  StillNotATony
Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
25 days ago

It’s like someone ripped off and slapped on Ebenezer Scrooge’s door knocker.

I dig it.

Last edited 25 days ago by Taargus Taargus
A. Barth
A. Barth
25 days ago

I had the same thought! Which one were you picturing?

Mine was from the 1970 version with Albert Finney. It’s kind of a musical but the songs are catchy little earworms. Bonus: it has Sir Alec Guiness as Marley.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
25 days ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Wait for it…

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol from 1962. For whatever reason, this version has always been my family’s standard Christmas Carol choice, and I’m not 100% sure why. It’s shockingly solid. And yes, this version also has surprisingly catchy songs as well.

A. Barth
A. Barth
25 days ago

Interesting – I haven’t seen that one

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwguCV9XDDQ

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