1956 Mercury Hermes Scooter

The Scooter that destroyed Mercury Industries…

The tie-up with Cyclemaster proved lucrative and, as a result, Mercury appear to have got the ‘scooter bug.’ It’s quite understandable, as every manufacturer wanted to cash in on the crazes that was revolutionizing transport. However, this next foray into motorized vehicles was not so successful.

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Because, unfortunately, the Mercury Hermes Scooter was a total disaster. Although Mercury tried introducing several more models over the next few years in a desperate attempt to recoup losses, by 1958 the company went into liquidation. With such limited production, examples of the Mercury motorcycle, moped or scooters are now very hard to find.

 

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My unrestored Mercury Hermes scooter came from the Combe Martin Motorcycle Museum in North Devon, which closed down some years ago.

The Hermes has many little touches of originality. Look, for example, at the Mercury name stamped into the brake plate, seen below behind its frame number (number 305 out of a production run of 1201)

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1955 EARLS COURT SHOW

 

After WW2, Great Britain had to repay its massive war debts to America, and the overwhelming majority of new vehicles were exported in order to bring in foreign exchange. Petrol rationing was still in force in Britain into the 1950s. So it was interesting to see the new models at the annual Earls Court Show …but you couldn’t buy them!

But, by 1955, the country had recovered, and motorcyclists once again had a wonderful choice of machines to buy. The Hermes made its debut at the 1955 show.

 

The 1955 Show provided the debut of the new-fangled ‘mo-ped’ (for a review of the 1955 Earls Court Show PLEASE CLICK HERE).

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Although the German machines used the reliable Sachs engine, when Mercury built the Meister Solo-Roller under license in Great Britain, they used the JLO engine instead.

It was a decision that was to doom the Hermes to failure.

Its pull-start – similar to lawnmowers – was a troublesome device, and because so many of the scooters were returned for repair under the warranty, Mercury sued JLO for £20,000.

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Few Mercury Hermes scooters were still on the road by the following year; though mine was first registered by Birmingham County Council in 1958, so I assume it must have remained unsold in a shop somewhere until a gullible customer bought it. Its taxdisc shows an expiry date of 31st December 1959, and the pull-start on the engine is broken, so I assume this one suffered the same fate as the others, and did not last more than a year before it came off the road.

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Meister Solo Roller

Compare the Hermes with its ancestor, the Meister Solo-Roller, which came on the market in Germany in 1955.

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The 1955 Solo Mammut-Roller (below) sported the same 50cc Sachs engine as the Meister.

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Below you have a better view of the accessories on offer.

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Published on January 25, 2009 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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