Britain has a rich history of motorcycle manufacturers, with Phelon & Moore being a famous one. P&M were responsible for launching the Panther motorbike. During WW1, the company supplied the Royal Flying Corps with motorbikes, highlighting their importance. We’re looking into the history of P&M to see how successful they were.
In 1900, Joah ‘John’ Carver Phelon and his nephew Harry Rayner patented their sloping single-cylinder engine as a stressed member design. The duo made the first chain-driven motorbike, but couldn’t afford to put their machine into production. They sold the design to Humber for royalties, who produced the design up to 1907.
Rayner died in a car accident and Phelon started a partnership with Richard Moore. Phelon & Moore was founded in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire in 1904. One of their earliest models came with an inclined single-cylinder four-stroke engine as a stressed member in the frame with a two-speed gear and chain drive.
P&M were eager to get their designs into the spotlight, so they entered the 1913 International Six Days Trial. Three P&M 498 cc motorbikes also competed in the 1914 ACU Six Days Trial. This helped to build the company’s reputation and in November 1914, P&M introduced a new 770 cc V-Twin engine. This design laid the groundwork for what would become the first Panther motorbike.
Enter The Panther
In 1924, P&M launched the first Panther. Perhaps the most famous model from this time period was the Panther Model 100. It possessed an OHV 600 cc single-engine and stayed in production up to the 1960s.
Panthers were characterised as heavyweight ‘slopers’ and promoted as ‘The Perfected Motorcycle.’ Their bulk made them ideal for pulling sidecars. P&M also produced various lightweight machines such as the Red Panther. At under £30, this model became famous for being the cheapest complete motorbike in the 1930s.
The marquee also looked to take advantage of the scooter boom in the 1950s. They developed the Panther Princess, but it wasn’t successful. P&M stopped producing motorbikes in 1967, but Panther models remain popular classic vehicles. This is due to their robustness and relatively low cost.
What do you think of Panther motorbikes?