A Little Project – 1953 Mochet CM-125Y

project microcarMochet was one of those pretty remarkable little companies that none of us have ever heard of. During the early twentieth century and operating out of Puteaux, France, Charles Mochet successfully built pedal cars for kids and, more importantly, four-wheeled pedal vehicles for adults. His two seat “Velocar” sold quite well in France among people who wanted personal transport but couldn’t quite afford a car with a motor in it. Then, to address cornering problems with the Velocar, Mochet came up with something that, unlike his company or his cars, we are all probably quite familiar with. By dividing his Velocar in half, Mochet created the recumbent bicycle. Because of better aerodynamics and the rider’s ability to exert more force on the pedals, it was significantly faster than upright bikes and was so successful in European cycling competitions that it was banned by the sport’s governing body. It remains banned to this day.

Charles passed away in 1934, soon after the crushing blow dealt by the ban of his half Velocar, and his son Georges took up the mantle. Georges steered the company in a new direction after the Second World War by making the move to microcars, but looking at the little Mochet automobiles it’s easy to see that it was a natural step from their earlier, human-powered products. The tall, skinny wheels on Mochet’s cars even look a bit like bike wheels. Mochets were very basic little things with not much in the way of amenities and primitive stuff like external contracting band brakes. 100 to 125 cc engines that produced only a handful of horsepower, meanwhile, ensured that they were also rather sluggish performers.

Mochets, though, sold rather well for a number of reasons. Obviously a car so tiny and basic was going to be cheap, but people were also encouraged to buy them because the wait to get a new one was very short and because you didn’t need a license to drive anything below 125 cc. In 1958, however, the French Government changed the laws, requiring you to have a license for anything over 50 cc and Georges decided to call it quits, moving on to work on agricultural equipment.

You don’t see Mochets, well, ever really, but two did sell at the RM Microcar Museum sale earlier this year at hammer prices of around $17,000. Those were rather nice examples, but this one very much isn’t. Located in Hopatcong, New Jersey, it’s crammed tightly in the back of someone’s garage and looks to have been there for some time. It’s mostly complete apart from the seats, but obviously it needs a restoration. One of the later  full-bodied CM-125Y’s (125 for engine size, Y for Ydral, the manufacturer of the engine), it would certainly be a neat little head turner when it’s finished. You won’t be finding Mochet parts at Auto Zone, but since there’s so little actual car there to restore, hopefully it will see the light of day again very soon.

Check out the 1953 Mochet CM-125Y here on eBay, where the “Buy It Now” price is set at $5,995 and open to offers.

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