Every once in a while, an auction will catch our eye. Usually, it’s for a four, or at least two, wheeled mode of transportation, but this motorized toboggan from 100 years ago is a worth edition to this week’s coveting.
OK, so first off, riding a toboggan is already dangerous as hell. Take this from a kid with 37 years of midwest winters under her belt; there will be tears, split lips and spilled cocoa. But shooting down a snow-covered hill on a rickety piece of wood strapped to two equally rickety pieces of metal wasn’t enough of a thrill for one of our last century’s youngsters. No, what this little danger-hungry tyke needed was the spice of life that only comes from internal combustion.
Strapped to the back of this supped-up sled is a red Smith Motor Wheel with matching fuel tank and fender. This little guy is a single carb, single cylinder mini-engine that produced about 1.5 horsepower. About 250,000 Smith Motor Wheels were produced between 1914 and 1919, according to Smith Pumps. It was popular with bike riders in the early 20th century as a sort of proto e-Bike. It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more than enough to turn a mild ride into a wild one.
I suppose strapping the motor to a toboggan could have been dreamed up by a lazy kid, rather than an adventurous one. One looking to skip the arduous trudge back up hill using a little help from the Smith Wheel, but I chose to look at a ramshackle motorize toboggan and believe in the best of people.
This particular toboggan comes with a Smith Motor Wheel that can be tilted up for pure gravity-fed sledding. The toboggan was part of the John Parham Estate Collection and recently sold at auction with a ton of other interesting wheeled items, both motorized and regular. Whoever bought the toboggan, however, I hope is committed to our own personal maximum of “drive the cars,” or in this case “fly upon the toboggan.” They just need to make sure their health insurance is up to date first.