1959 Dunkley Popular Scooter

1959 Dunkley Popular Scooter

49cc 4-Stroke OHV Fan-Cooled 2-Speed

Starts Easily and Runs Well

(Now sold)

I sold this scooter in 2010. This description is from my sales website:

Another very rare scooter, the Dunkley Popular was only manufactured for one year, as W.H. Dunkley ceased trading in the same year.

This scooter starts easily and runs well. It’s not very fast, but it does have 2 gears and a 4-stroke engine to its credit.

It was totally restored by the previous owner, at considerable cost.

I recently had it MOT’d and it’s ready to jump on and ride.





Fitting this machine with a British-made 49cc four-stroke engine was a good marketing strategy in a mainly two-stroke moped and scooter market. Another good sales ploy was the Popular’s price and advertising claim: ‘A scooter for the price of a moped.’

You can see how the styling owed a lot to the German scooterettes. Mercury Industries was associated with Dunkley; the 1956 Mercury Hermes Scooter was a copy of the German Meister Solo Roller. The Mammut pictured below was also a Meister clone.

While the convergence of mopeds and scooters – developing into the ‘Scooterette’ – was a logical progression, and Dunkley were right to produce this model, especially with a four-stroke power unit. Unfortunately for them they were not the only company to have developed a 49cc four-stroke scooterette. Because, in 1958, the Honda Cub made its debut in Japan. Life would never be the same again.


SUMMARY: This is what I would describe as a good home restoration. The two points I’d criticize it on are:

1. The bodywotk is pitted under the paint. It doesn’t show up very well in the photos, but if you look closely at the pictures below, you can see it. It would obviously cost well over £1500 to restore this scooter from scratch. So, as I’m selling this Dunkley for much less than that …as they say, you get what you pay for.

2. The petrol tap could originally be turned on and off through a hole in the side panel. The petrol tap fitted does not have an extension enabling you to do that. So, to turn it on, you must remove the side panel. This is easy enough to do, but if I were keeping it I’d add an extension to the tap.

Neither of these points stop you using this rare scooter, as it’s in running order and quite pleasant to ride. And the four-stroke engine sounds sweet.



Jamaica Row, Birmingham, England

The National Archives reveal ‘Tenancy agreement for shop in Jamaica Row and Upper Dean Street: W H Dunkley, perambulator manufacturer …1887‘ so we assume that is the time that the company established their business. The following is extracted from Mark Daniels’ excellent Dunkley article:

Versatility was the key to survival in Victorian times and a catalogue of 1880 illustrates their imagination: “Prams, rocking horses, see-saws, pedal tricycles, hobby-horse tricycles, mail carts, steam circuses & roundabouts with organ complete”!  In 1886 they commenced production of a series of “gas cars”, which came equipped with a rubber tube for refilling off gas street lamps!  Various models of motor cycles appeared around 1913, and a 3½hp Dunkley fitted with a 499cc Precision engine was entered into the 1914 Senior TT by G N Norris.  It completed three laps before retiring.  Despite diversions into other varied products, prams remained a constant in the core business.  Appearing at the 1922 Motor Show, and powered by a 1hp Simplex engine, The Pramotor was a mind-boggling creation!


To read the full article on Dunkley and the Whippet, please click on the link below:



As you can see below, reporting on the Dunkley ‘Gas Cars’ in their June 1918 edition, the American magazine Popular Science Monthly ‘relocated’ W.H. Dunkley to Birmingham Alabama!