His Own Car
Fathers know how a boy sits behind the wheel of the big car, holding back the longing that besieges his heart every time the motor starts. He wants to drive – he wouldn’t be a real boy if he didn’t. The Briggs & Stratton Flyer is the boy’s car, created for red-blooded youngster’s whose greatest hope is to sit behind the wheel and GO. – Briggs & Stratton advertisement
Originally called the Smith Flyer and manufactured by the A.O. Smith Company in Milwaukee, in 1919 rights were sold to Briggs & Stratton and it was renamed the Briggs & Stratton Flyer. The near Flyer is a 1920 model. The Flyer is a small, simple, lightweight, two-seat vehicle with a wooden frame that doubles as the body and suspension. A small gasoline engine is mounted on a fifth wheel, or motor wheel, to drive the Flyer. Since the 5th wheel was direct drive, the engine had to be started with this wheel lifted into the air. The driver then lowered the 5th wheel by lever, to start moving. In 1925 they sold the rights to the Flyer to Automotive Electric Services, who continued producing the Flyer until the supply of engines ran out, and then they substituted an electric motor driven by a battery. The far Flyer is a 1928 electric model.
Briggs & Stratton kept the motor that had been the heart of the Motor Wheel and adapted it to other applications such as lawn mowers and running small equipment. The Motor Wheel motor was the progenitor of all Briggs & Stratton motors to follow. I ran many a lawn mower with a Briggs & Stratton in it. Flyers were painted red and were known widely as the “Red Bug”. The Flyer is listed by Guinness as the most inexpensive ‘car’ of all time. List price for the 1922 Briggs & Stratton Flyer was $150.