11. The Hercules Grey Wolf & Her-cu-motor

The 1955 Hercules Grey Wolf

…Subsequently renamed ‘Her-cu-motor’


The Grey Wolf was launched with some fanfare at the Earl’s Court Show in November, 1955. It appeared on Stand 100 and was described in the motorcycling press as a ‘pleasing and practical design.’


It was a totally British machine when every other model (except the disappointing 32cc Norman Cyclemate) was either imported or used foreign components. Its JAP engine was a unique design. The Hercules name was an established marque famous for well-built bicycles. It was priced very competitively.


I am unashamedly biased because I own one. But don’t you think that the Her-cu-Motor was by far the best of the new ‘mo-peds’ that appeared at the show? (See the Show review below)


The engine was British-made too, a JAP 49cc 2-stroke. The engine is interesting, with the crankshaft running fore and aft; a pair of bevel gears turn the drive through 90° and then via a chain to the rear wheel.


‘Power and Pedal’ magazine published a short road test of the Her-cu-Motor in their August, 1956 edition.


Miller supplied the flywheel magneto, lights and horn, and the front suspension was a bottom leading link type.


The toolbox of the first Grey Wolf was as you see here, but was very soon replaced with a triangular style toolbox.


As you can see below, the Her-cu-Motor sports an unusual front suspension set-up, with a bottom leading link.





Although initially announced as the Hercules Grey Wolf, the marque and model was promptly renamed ‘Her-cu-Motor.’

I assume this was because a key part of its advertising strategy was that it was an all-British machine – which would fall rather flat if confused with the well-established German Hercules. (See the separate page of this Hercules Museum Website Museum for a history of the German Hercules company).

It has been mentioned elsewhere that the name change was because after the initial launch, a wider colour choice was offered for the Grey Wolf than the original grey. However, though German Hercules mopeds and scooters were officially re-badged in Great Britain to avoid confusion over the identical name, it would be likely that in due course some German Hercules models would arrive in Great Britain with their German Hercules name intact.

The review below, in ‘Power & Pedal’ of December 1956, shows the autocycle-style version of the Her-cu-Motor that was also offered


In 1958 Villiers pulled the plug on the supply of JAP engines. No other engine could be fitted to replace the shaft-drive and in-line arrangement, so the Her-cu-Motor ceased.

For a brief history of J.A. Prestwich, original manufacturer of the JAP engine, please visit the www.BuyVintage website.co.uk and see Page 10. PLEASE CLICK HERE













Below, you can see some of the mo-peds on display at the 1956 Earls Court Show, including the Hercules. (The word mo-ped had only recently come into usage).

[If you print out both of the above pictures, you can join them together side by side]


Published on October 30, 2008 at 12:20 pm  Leave a Comment  

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