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Page 661. 1961 Valmobile ‘Suitcase Scooter’

1961 Valmobile Suitcase Scooter

49cc

Weight: 75lbs

UNFOLDED and READY TO GO IN 30 SECONDS!

VALMOBILE FOLDAWAY MOTOR SCOOTER

The motor scooter of a thousand uses. Instant transportation for one or two, completely portable, folds compact (27 x 14 x 24″) …stores like a piece of luggage. Automatic transmission. Easy starting. Smooth riding. Up to 35mph. Up to 165mpg. Air cooled 2-cycle. 2.8hp engine. Under $200.

 The Valmobile Suitcase Scooter is one of the world’s most interesting scooters. Designed by French inventor Victor Bouffort, it was extensively marketed in Japan, America and Europe, but did not meet with great success. It missed the scooter boom years of the fifties, and was adversely affected by the flood of Japanese mopeds in the early sixties which killed off all competition from European manufacturers. It did sell in small numbers in America, as there was a niche market there for small scooters, and it was far superior to any of the American models.

 

This example is in excellent original condition. It starts easily and runs well, the folding mechanism functions perfectly, and the seat has been professionally recovered. It has American registration papers. Further down the page you can see it being transformed from a ‘suitcase’ into a scooter.

Perhaps even rarer than the scooter itself, you can see its original brochure, below.

 

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UNFOLDING THE SUITCASE SCOOTER

The brochure says: ‘UNFOLDED and READY TO GO IN 30 SECONDS!’ My first time doing it took five minutes, which included the photos below, as well as stopping to scratch my head a few times. It was easy enough to do, and I’m sure I could do it in 30 seconds now I know what to do.


 First you remove the handlebar stem.

 Next remove the font wheel assembly.

 

Fit the front wheel assembly to the frame, and fold out the front footrests so that the front wheel can slide round 90 degrees into position. Secure it with the ring.

 

 Fit handlebars. That’s it.

 

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HIRANO FOLDING SCOOTER 
In the 1980s I owned the same model of scooter, although that one was badged as a Hirano. I sold it twenty years ago. The picture of me sitting on it was taken for an article by Scootering magazine.

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VICTOR BOUFFORT

Victor Bouffort was a French designer who is best known for the outlandish Bouffort three-wheeler (above) he created in 1945. It used parts from the Citroen Traction Avant and was a two-seater with hydropneumatic suspension. Not many were made and production dates are quoted variously as 1947-1950 or up to 1960. A clearer picture of a Bouffort can be seen below.

Bouffort made various prototype vehicles for the French army and, around 1952, worked on prototype bubblecars, as below. None of these met with much success. However, Brutsch and Tourette came up with very similar vehicles, which they claimed to be their own ideas.

 Bouffort gave up car design and started work on the Valmobile. The French army were initially interested, but eventually used the Vespa instead.

In France, the scooter was marketed by Martin Moulet & Co, who were pump manufacturers.

Hirano (below) was the Japanese distributor. I’m not sure how successful the scooter was in Japan: probably not very successful, as Hirano went bankrupt soon after. Worldwide rights were owned by the Japanese company Gosho. American company OCCO Specialties Inc of South Hackensack, New Jersey was the American importer: they bought the worldwide Valmobile rights from Gosho, and all parts from the factory were shipped to OCCO in the USA before Hirano/ Gosho went bankrupt.

 In America the Valmobile was also offered as an accessory for motorhomes, as you can see below.

1960s TRAVCO/ DODGE MOTORHOME

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VALMOBILE INSTRUCTION BOOK

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Info thanks to - http://automobiles-voisin.pagesperso-orange.fr/e_pfi_08_vehicule.html

http://www.valmobile.com/

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