Lightweight and cheap transportation was in great demand after World War II, especially in war ravaged Europe and England. But the scooter style of machine, lightweight and cheap, also caught on with new, mostly young American customers and current two-wheel enthusiasts.
It would seem natural that Harley-Davidson and Indian would be developing these new products since they had superb manufacturing capabilities and distribution networks to sell them. But aside from the Harley Topper, most American scooters came from other new and more adventurous and innovative manufacturing concerns, or were imported from England and Europe. California-based Gladden Products Corporation was one of the U.S. makers, developing and releasing the Mustang Colt in 1946 as the first product of the Mustang Motorcycle Corporation. Gladden thought of their scooters as “miniaturized motorcycles.”
The first prototypes were based on a machine that Gladden engineer Howard Forrest had built for himself in 1941, but used a simple Villiers 191cc “Double Century” engine, though soon Villiers took that engine out of production. Next the Burman transmission and a 125cc Villiers engine became the drive train for the first production run of 235 Mustang Colts which ran on eight inch wheels. Almost yearly new designs came about using better engines, larger wheels and Mustang first innovated the telescopic fork for U.S.-made scooters including the featured Pony.
A curious side note is that AMA Hall of Famer Walt Fulton Sr actually raced Mustangs in regional AMA TT-style races, running against much larger, more powerful machines. Fulton had the advantage of maneuverability with his dealer-sponsored Mustang. In fact, Fulton began winning races and embarrassing the traditional motorcycle manufacturers. This prompted changes in AMA racing rules which began to state minimum wheel diameters! Fulton even ran a highly modified Mustang to 100 miles per hour on the dry lakes.
Mustang sales began to decline in 1956 and the company went out of business in 1965 as lightweight and more sophisticated motorcycles came into America from England, Europe and Japan.
When you visit the National Motorcycle Museum you’ll see about 15 scooters from the tiny Iowa-made Doodle-Bug to to the Vespa, several fine Cushmans and even a fully polished Rumi.
- Engine: Busy-Bee* Side-Valve Single
- Bore & Stroke: 2.875″ x 3.00″
- Carburetion: 7/8” Amal or 22mm Dell’Orto
- Ignition: Magneto
- Horsepower: 9.5 Rated
- Transmission: 3-Speed Burman
- Chassis: Tubular Steel
- Wheels: 12 Inch Front & Rear
- Suspension: Telescopic Fork / Spring Seat
- Wheelbase: 49 Inches
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The “wild ones” I rode with in 1955 included My Allstate 125, sold by Sears, a Cushman Eagle, a Vespa, a Tiger Cub an Indian & a Mustang.
I’ll never forget———-
I too owned a Sears Allstate scooter in the late 50’s. Mine had a 3 HP Continental engine. I rode with three friends, one had a Cushman and the other two had Vespa scooters. I was so jealous of all of them. We lived in the Panhandle of Texas and did a lot of camping together. We would load down our scooters and take off for one of our favorite camping/fishing spots. Typically, they would run down the road ahead of me till I was no longer in sight then stop for a smoke waiting for me to catch up. I ran as hard as I could but my Allstate just couldn’t keep up with the Vespa/Cushman crowd. I think it had an advertised top speed of about 28 MPH which was just fine with my parents. The Vespa of that era would do about 45 or 50 MPH as I recall and the Cushman maybe even a little faster. After I had owned it several years my Grandfather showed me how to disable the engine governor. I picked up about 10-15 MPH of top speed and could run with the Vespa after that. That was a close-kept secret between me and Grandpa.
Neat little bike. The era was so fun. The vehicles of the era were about freedom to roam and style. There was no need to promote safety as most people pretty well understood the world you live in need not require warning placards on everything to prevent self destruction. It seemed if one lived with an eye to his her surroundings survival odds were good. If not……… great display good article thks.
I know that some of the custom builders of the era used the Mustang seat.
I’ve loved motorcycles since I was a boy, but had never heard of this model.
Thanks for furthering my education – looks like the wife and I will have to come and visit again. And buy a t shirt or two… : )
One of my High School Chum’s rode one to school in the early 60s, I was envious as all I could manage was a worn out Ouch moped and Harleys and Triumphs were way out of my reach! In my youth kids had to earn what they desired.
I briefly owned one of these back when I was in jr. high; the guy I bought it from could never produce the papers for it, so he had to give me my money back. I loved the scooter, and bought a Cushman Eagle, then later rode a Honda 305. Got my first Harley when I was 22.
I owned a Mustang Thourobred in the early 60’s It was a great little bike,and supplied a lot of fun memories!!
My dad had a Mustang motorcycle in the 60’s. It had a P-pad on the back fender. I was always getting busted sitting on it. I would fiddle with the switches and not put them back where they were. Dad would come back from a ride and the headlight was on. Oops. The bike was loud and I believe it was a hard tail frame. I was in the 3rd grade and this was my introduction to motorcycles. My dad rode since the 40’s, I started riding in the 70’s. I did see a Mustang with a Honda 350 motor stuffed into the frame. I also saw a Sportster 883 motor stuffed in a Mustang frame. I bet that ride hauled some serious ass. Thanks for the memories.
Nice story, I have two Mustangs, 1961 Throughbred, and a 1963 Bronco. My Dad Jim Cavanaugh worked at Mustang for 15 years he was the production manager when he left. They built and crated 10 bikes a day 5 days a week. He road tested every bike that came off of the assembly line on his watch!
Any 4 ad transactions with clutches available? Sure would like to finish a project.
Tell me about your project.
I’m wanting to sell my 52 Mustang will a 58 Ducati 350cc motor in it with a custom paint job if you want to know more please call me at 937 716 6777
How much are you asking for it. Does it have a title. Good day