Gibson Mon-Auto scooter is one of the oldest

By: On: January 8th, 20103 Comments »Updated: December 17, 2011

Gibson Mon-AutoSeveral really interesting motor scooters were manufactured years ago.  Some of the most clever designs were for small scooters that could be carried and easily stored, like the Valmobile scooter for example.  But, a very old scooter, and perhaps one of the first, is the Gibson Mon-Auto scooter.

Small motor scooters have often gained attention for military applications, and the Gibson Mon-Auto was one of them.  Keep in mind this scooter was designed and manufactured near the start of WWI, well before motor scooters, such as the Cushman were ever around.  Mr. Gibson realized the military may want such a vehicle, as shown in the photo below of the early fendered version with the rifle attached to it.  The bullet styled frame seemed appropriate for that use too.

Gibson Mon-Auto scooterThe Mon-Auto was invented by Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson of New York and was sold through his company, the Gibson Mon-Auto Company.  The company had offices in the Woolworth Building in New York City.

This clever little antique scooter is just 48 inches long, 18 inches tall, and a mere 9 inches wide.  It had a single cylinder engine that ran on gasoline and was rated at 2.5 hp. The entire scooter weighed just 45 pounds. Top speed of the Mon-Auto was approximately 25 mph per back in 1915. The price for the Gibson Mon-Auto scooter was $100 US in 1917.

Mon-Auto Gibson scooterAccording to old news articles from the period, Gibson introduced the Mon-Auto scooter in 1914 at automobile shows.  Apparently, this was a concept vehicle to test the public’s response.  The story is that people called it a “motor skate” because it looked like an old fashioned roller skate or perhaps an ice skate.  It also became known informally as the “world’s smallest motorcycle“.  The seat height was described as being about the same as an ordinary chair.

A patent was applied for in 1916 by Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson of the Gibson Mon-Auto Company, and it was issued in 1918.  Mr. Gibson described it as a small, light road vehicle “which may be easily carried by the rider and stored in a small space when not in use”.

Mon-Auto ScooterThe long round, bullet-like cylinder portion of the frame was hollow and was internally divided to serve as both the fuel tank and oil tank.  It held enough fuel and oil for about 75 miles riding distance, which is pretty impressive considering the time.

As with many modern scooters, there was no clutch to operate and the engine was located close to the rear wheel. The engine drove a gear that connected to a mating gear at the wheel.  The transmission was a 5 to 1 ratio direct drive system; however the drive gear could be disengaged from the rear wheel via an innovative control lever at the handlebar grip.  The same lever mechanism was also used for controlling the engine throttle.  It was not quite like an automatic motorcycle, but similar.

The Mon-Auto scooter has faded into history.  It seems the Gibson Mon-Auto was probably about 25 to 30 years ahead of its time.  Motor scooters of all sizes and shapes really started to sell after WWII since it was a relatively inexpensive form of transportation that could navigate on a variety of road conditions.

If anyone knows of any existing Mon-Auto scooters, or has a Mon-Auto related story to share, please leave a comment and tell us about it!

About John Clay

John Clay is the author of MotorcycleInfo.Org. He and his family reside in North Carolina in the United States. A graduate of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Experienced Rider Course, he enjoys riding his Moto Guzzi in charity rides and serves as a volunteer motorcycle marshal for an annual bicycle charity event in the Carolinas.

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3 Responded

  1. Paul says:

    Anyone interested in Gibson Mon-Auto stock?

  2. Sarah Gibson Thompson says:

    This was my great-grandfather…Arthur Hugo Cecil Gibson…I am asking family if they have a Gibson Mon Auto tucked away in an old barn somewhere. Fingers crossed.

    • John says:

      Hello Sarah, thank you for writing, it is really wonderful to have you visit my site! Please keep us posted as to what you find!
      John