Some bicycles are interesting to collectors because of their design or features; others are sought-after because they were made by a company with a top reputation. This machine is just an ordinary postwar roadster with no apparent special interest. However, it is an extremely rare machine because, despite being manufactured by the Norman Cycle Co, it is not badged as a Norman. This is one of Norman’s export bicycles, badged as a Rambler. As export models were presumably all sent overseas, a Rambler is a rare sight on these shores.
It sounds like I’m describing a rare bird that suddenly appears after decades away, with its sighting attracting bird-spotters by the car load!
I’ve been looking for this particular ‘rare bird’ for many years. This Rambler turned up, not on the Isle of Harris like the White-Throated Needletail, which was spotted in June this year and has only been seen in the UK five times since 1950 …but on ebay. I was the only bidder. But, there again, I’m also the only member of the ‘Rambler Owners Club.’ I suppose some vintage bicycles are just too obscure for general enthusiasm.
Rambler was the main model name used by one of the top early American cycle manufacturers, Gormully & Jeffery. Two British companies used the Rambler name too: Rambler Ltd of Empire Works, Holliday Road, Birmingham, in the 1920s; and Norman Cycle Co of Ashford, Kent after WW2. Their logos were very similar, except that the earlier Rambler company’s logo says ‘Birmingham’ at the bottom, and the Norman version – used for its export range of bicycles and autocycles after WW2 – says ‘Bicycle.’
The badge on this bicycle is the latter variation.
1939/1946 Rambler Roadster
Sturmey Archer ‘Model AW9’ Three Speed
Similar to the Norman ‘Gent’s Model C’ Light Roadster