Gormully & Jeffery was one of the top American cycle manufacturers – second only to Columbia. After the company sold their cycle division in 1899 (to focus on making Rambler automobiles), the Rambler bicycle continued to be built and sold in Sweden. The design was not updated. So, though discontinued in the USA, in Sweden this turn-of-the-century American bicycle remained unchanged for the following decades. In fact, the only difference on the machine featured here is a Torpedo coaster brake.
The Men’s Rambler of the late 1890s was a superbly built machine equal in quality to any other bicycle on the market, and with interesting design features that helped it stand out from the crowd. As well as the unique chainwheel and handlebar grips, its rococo lugwork (below) was a trademark Rambler detail.
1913/1914 Swedish Rambler
Built in USA by Gormully & Jeffery until 1903
Production continued in Sweden by Husqvarna
28′ Wheels (tyres 622 / 28 x 1 3/4″)
Torpedo Coaster Brake (dated 1928)
Frame No 105535
This Rambler is an old-time restoration with dull but well-preserved nickel, nice old-style tyres and a beautiful saddle supplied by master saddle-maker Paul Watson. It’s in excellent all-round condition and ready to display and ride.
1910 RAMBLER MODEL A3
Thomas B. Jeffery was born in Stoke, Devonshire, England. At the age of eighteen he emigrated to the United States, and moved to Chicago. Later he worked making models of inventions for submission to the U.S. Patent Office by inventors. With partner R. Phillip Gormully he formed a bicycle company that subsequently became the 2nd largest bicycle manufacturing company in the U.S. One of his accomplishments was developing a clincher rim and tire so that pneumatic tires could be used more effectively on bicycles.
Rambler was the main Gormully and Jeffery bicycle brand. In 1895 they started the Shelby Cycle Manufacturing Co to make the Ideal bicycle, a cheaper model. This was marketed both as a Rambler Ideal and a Shelby Ideal.
In 1900 Jeffery and Gormully sold their interest in their cycle company, which was taken over by ‘The Trust’, a conglomerate of US cycle makers which operated as the American Bicycle Co. It in turn became Pope Cycle Co.
The Rambler brand continued in Sweden, built by Husqvarna. The American Rambler pedals and grips continued in production in Sweden, the pedals using the generic name ‘Reform’.
After selling their cycle business, G&J bought a factory in Kenosha Wisconsin to start making cars. They kept the name, so their cars were also called Ramblers. Jeffery’s first Rambler car is seen above.
Some of the early Rambler automobile designs had a front mounted engine, and a steering wheel, but the first production models conservatively followed the Duryea pattern, and had a tiller and a rear engine.
The Ramblers cost in the $750 to $850 range, with an 8-hp, 1.6L, 1-cyl. engine mounted beneath the seat. In the first year of sales the Rambler became the second largest selling car, with 1500 automobiles sold, second only to Oldsmobile.
In 1898, Thomas B. Jeffery’s son Charles built two more sophisticated single-cylinder cars with front-mounted engines. They were left-hand drive, unusual for an American car of the day. The Rambler’s design evolved by 1902, moving the driver to the right-hand side and moving the engine from the front of the vehicle to the back under the seat.
1917 RAMBLER MODEL A3
Husqvarna Vapenfabrik Frame numbers:
Thanks to Hakan Sodergren & Andreas Bengtsson in Sweden for researching the Rambler and providing catalogue illustrations.