MANUFACTURE D’ARMES et CYCLES de Saint-Etienne

1950 Manufrance Hirondelle 6-Speed Tandem No 39

1950 Manufrance Hirondelle 6-Speed Tandem No 39

I’ve not got round to restoring this monster. It’s one of my treasures. I keep it in a dark shed and bring it out each year to look at it again.

hirondelle copy

At 37,500 francs, the top of the range Hirondelle 6 Speed Tandem was the most expensive bicycle produced by Manufrance.

Public holidays were enshrined in French law, and this was the heyday of family tandem holidays in France.

Postwar austerity forced many families back onto bicycles. There were small cars – ‘velocars’ with 125cc motorcycle engines – available at the bottom end of the market, which could be driven ‘sans permis’ ie without registration or license. But the 49cc Velosolex cyclomoteur and, subsequently, small and cheap mass-produced cars like the Citroen CV, had not yet made inroads upon the bicycle industry.

Bicycles ruled …and large tandems were family transport.  Monster 6-speed tandems were the juggernauts of the road!

hirondelle copy1

hirondelle copy2

OTHER 1951 MANUFRANCE MODELS

By way of comparison, here’s the cheaper 1950 Hirondelle 3-speed tandem available at the same time as my 6-Speed.

hirondelle2 copy

And here is the most expensive of the solo bicycles on offer in the same year…

hirondelle4 copy

mf_tandem10

MANUFRANCE HIRONDELLE TANDEM HISTORY

Now for a potted history of Manufrance tandems, as featured in the famous Manufrance catalogues. You can see their year of manufacture on the bottom of each illustration.

hirondelle5 copy

hirondelle6 copy

hirondelle8 copy

hirondelle9 copy

hirondelle10 copy

mf_tandem13

mf_tandem15

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