Bond Minicar Mark C
|Production||1952–1956 6,399 made|
|Successor||Bond Minicar Mark D|
|Engine||Villiers 6E & 8E 197 cc (12 cu in) Single cylinder 2 stroke|
|Wheelbase||5 ft 6 in (1,680 mm)|
|Length||9 ft 10 in (3,000 mm)|
|Width||4 ft 9 in (1,450 mm)|
|Height||4 ft 2 in (1,270 mm)|
|Kerb weight||460 lb (210 kg)|
Around the same time as the Mark B was launched, work had begun on what was referred to subsequently as a "streamlined version" of the Minicar. Badged as the 'ESC' (England's Smallest Car), this prototype utilised the main body and rear suspension of the Mark B, but added mock front wings, a passenger side door and a valance beneath its oval-shaped grill.
By the time of the Earl's Court Cycle and Motor Cycle Show in November 1951, several pre-production Mark Cs were on show. On these the front wings had become longer and less triangular in profile than the 'ESC', the grill was also lower and more rounded and the front valance was now a more defined bumper shape.The new Minicar design was very well received, and was due to go on sale in early 1952. By July however, "owing to supply difficulties" it was still unavailable, and the earliest production cars were not recorded as being built until October 1952. Four of the cars were on display at that year's show along with a Sharp's Minivan.
The change in the body style from the Mark B was both functional and aesthetic. The Mark C utilised the same 180° steering lock and worm and sector steering system that was seen in the prototype Commercial and the front wings allowed for ample clearance at full lock. They also addressed a demand from customers for a "greater smoothness of line",and allowed a more robust location for the mounting of the front lights. Other improvements included rod and cable operated brakes on all three wheels, which "appreciably shortens stopping distances."
During development, the Mark C had utilised the same sliding pillar suspension on the rear as the Mark B, but by September 1952, this had been changed for Flexitor suspension units produced by George Spencer Moulton & Co. Ltd. The Flexitor units were a type of lever arm shock absorber which used bonded rubber in torsion as the shock absorber. On these units a stub axle is mounted upon a trailing-arm with the pivot point being a steel rod. This rod is bonded inside a rubber tube which runs through and is also bonded to an external steel housing. The housing is bolted to the underside of the car. The units provide about 3 in (76 mm) of vertical movement to each independent rear axle.
The engine mounting was substantially different. Instead of being suspended from an alloy cradle as on the Mark A and B, the engine now sat in a steel cradle bolted to a steeply inclined steel tube that pivoted directly behind the engine through an alloy steering head bracket. This bracket, holding the engine and front wheel unit is bolted to a cast alloy bulkhead which forms a major structural component of the car. The engine mounting was said to have been a regular source of failures on both the Mark A and the Mark B, and this new design was again the work of Granville Bradshaw.
The single side door, which had been introduced to around 6 1/2% of Mark B production vehicles after November 1951, became a standard fixture on the Mark C. Because the car's monocoque construction depended principally upon its skin for rigidity, the size of door was severely limited and to overcome the resulting decrease in structural rigidity, vertical steel strengthening brackets were fitted either side and along the bottom edge of the door aperture.
By January 1953, some cars were being fitted with fibreglass rear wings. Bonnets in fibreglass followed soon after, but these were not used on production vehicles until December 1954. The production cost of the fibreglass parts was said to be about the same as those of aluminium, but the parts were said to be both lighter and stronger.
Initially, the Mark C was available only as either the Standard Tourer or the De luxe Tourer with a single bench seat, seating two or three people. The De luxe version included an electric starter along with rear bumpers. The range was expanded in March 1954, when the Family Safety Standard and Family Safety De luxe versions were added. On these models the bodywork was extended behind the front seat and, like the earlier Bond Family Safety Saloon, two child-size inward facing hammock-style seats were added in the gap. Factory advertising material resurrected the Safety label as part of this model's name, but it was generally dropped elsewhere.
The Sharp’s Minitruck continued in production but now incorporated all the new Mark C styling and mechanical features. The last one was made in March 1956.
Attempts were made to penetrate the American market in 1953-54 where the car was marketed by Craven and Hedrick of New York and renamed the Sharp's Bear Cub. However it appears it made little impact and the arrangement was short-lived.
As with previous Minicars, the Mark C was improved and developed over time with numerous minor changes. Most notably, Villiers replaced the 6E engine with the 8E version in June 1953. This had the same overall capacity, but slightly increased performance, now 9 bhp (7 kW; 9 PS). In October 1953 a new Triplex windscreen and surround was introduced, the dash board glove box was removed, a two-roll seat replaced the earlier round top variety and the old gearchange and steering shaft u/j's were eliminated. Steel was sometimes used for rear wings when supplies of aluminium became difficult to obtain. The following October's updates redesigned the braking system, introduced rear bumpers on the Tourer models and front bumpers for all De luxes. Several more minor changes in October 1955 were marked by a much more notable change to the shape of the front grille from the familiar oval to a more angular design (designated Type II).
In Film and Television
Bond Minicar Mark C in Gideon's Way TV series from the 1960s