1922 Alexander 'Carette'

It's amazing how these ancient FFs keep coming out of the woodwork! I thought I'd seen 'em all from the 1920s but this one is new to me, almost a century after it was built. All I know is what was written here by the legendary Ixion in The Motor Cycle, aka 'The Blue Un':
“‘CAR COMFORT ON TWO WHEELS’ has become so trite a phrase that we hesitate even to use it, but nevertheless it conveys more adequately than otherwise possible the aim of Alexander Motors in producing the vehicle illustrated. Incidentally, the designer, Mr AH Alexander, is the well-known Scottish competition rider. At the outset, it may be stated that, clothed in an ordinary lounge suit without overalls, the driver in the photograph gained a gold medal in a recent muddy trial organised by the Edinburgh Club. Cleanliness is, however, only one of the advantages claimed; absence of skidding is another, for the centre of gravity is low; and cheapness of production should eventually be a third, for the only ‘finish’ consists of enamelling the outer shell, the other parts being ‘waterproofed’, as on a car. Finally, comfort for the rider figures largely in the design, which is sprung front and rear, and provided with a large cushion and backrest; and, if that is not enough, a windscreen will be added, and probably a waterproof apron.”
Many thanks to Nick Jeffery for passing this on from Dave Richmond's timeline blog here:
Update 11/2/2021: see below for more info from Colin 'Pulhamdown' in Bonnie Scotland!

1922 Alexander 'Carette'

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A H Alexander

A H Alexander was quite a man! He rode in several TTs, Junior, and Senior. Riding Douglas and Indian motorcycles, his best performance was in the 1913 Senior TT, coming third on an Indian. He also rode in the 1923 Scottish Six Days trial, so clearly was a talented rider. That leads me to suspect that the Alexander Carette would have been an excellent, well engineered machine. His family business was Alexanders of Edinburgh, probably the largest motor cycle dealership in Edinburgh in the 20s. They were listed as BSA agents in my 1927 BSA handbook, were the main Ford Agent in Edinburgh. They also had a coachbuilding division, building car bodywork onto bare chassis. Interesting that the front wheel of the Carette is much larger than the rear. A Bagger for the 20s! It certainly looks very modern compared to my 1927 BSA! What a shame there are no details of it's mechanical specification. More research needed!


The History section of Bikeweb, of which this is clearly an outstanding example, is really worth study. Apart from a few details (Trigger throttle?) every feature of FF design and layout has been done before, usually decades before. Every generation seems to have furthered evolution a bit more, while being ignored by manufacturers utterly dedicated to selling what they sold yesterday. The whole excercise is worthy of study by phychologists as an example of globsl denialism. My Favourite is Mr. Marzochi's "Futura".

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce" and finally as pantomime, which is why Voyagers have such excellent mirrors. It's behind you!

H E Fairley

Turns out that H E Fairley, the chap in the photo above, was the cousin of A H Alexander. He was also an observer on the Scottish Six Days Trial in 1923. It must have been great fun in the 20s if you had sufficient money to indulge in motor cycle sport.

Henry Alexander jnr

A H Alexander had a brother, Henry Alexander jnr, who also rode bikes competitively. Their father, Henry snr, had a Ford dealership in Edinburgh, selling model T Fords. It was Henry jnr, who famously drove a model T to the summit of Ben Nevis, Scotland's highest mountain, in 1911. Their aunt, H E Fairley's mother, was apparently the first woman to gain a driving licence in Edinburgh, and also a pilot's licence. They definitely led privileged lives!