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New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day

Hi everyone:
My name is Johnny Sweet and I started manufacturing sidecars in 1972. I designed and built each sidecar in a small shop in Southern New Hampshire and by the middle of the 1970's we built up to 4 units a week. My sidecars were called the Sweet SL-110 and in all I built five different models that sold for $635 by the mid 70's. That would be like $5,000 in today's money. All my sidecars where custom mounted to the customers motorcycle. At the time the biggest sellers where for the Honda, and other Jap bikes along with a few BMW's although the BMW caught on in time and I built over fifty units specific for the German bike. I did mount around 50 units on Harley's, but they where not very popular at the time. Harley's at that time where built by AMF better off left in the garage before they broke down.

For those of you that are new to this forum may find pages 3 and 4 very interesting with stories from the past and how I built my sidecars.

This is a few of the different SL model sidecars along with the builder Johnny Sweet in the 1990's about the time that he was winding down building sidecars .

There was a sidecar rally once a year somewhere in New England, and my Sweet SL 110's would make up over half the entrants. We at the time would donate the trophies, and more than once took home the winning awards. It was by peoples choice, so no favoritism could be claimed.
Last year I pulled out my old molds and built a new plug for the original SL-110. Over the last almost forty years my Sweet Sl-110 sidecars have been mounted on many different types and styles of motorcycles. Many write up's have been written and they always come up with the same conclusion. The Sweet SL-110 sidecar is a timeless design.
I moved out of New England in 1988, and live in South Carolina. I built about 12 sidecars in the last twenty years. Most where the Harley copy of the Liberty that I still to this day have the molds. I keep around five sidecars in stock even if no one knows I still have them. I have a passion for these things, and it's like a security blanket for an old man. O, By the way I'm 66 as of this writing. As you can see I've been involved with sidecars most of my adult life.
In 2008 I sculptured the Lehman Victory Crossbow Trike for Lehman Trikes of Spearfish South Dakota. It was an interesting project, and the finished product has been successfully excepted by the customers, and public.
I'm new to this General Discussion board, but if any of you need help or information about sidecars. I know a few things, after all I did built 450 of them. You may email me at jsweet450@yahoo.com.
If you would like pictures of my Sweet SL-110 just drop me a line.

Johnny Sweet PE.

Hi Johnny: Welcome to the forum. I'm relatively new to sidecars and I've only seen your cars in pictures, but they sure looked nice. Thanks for posting up, and for you offer of assistance.

Lee Summer Grove, LA R1100GS/CSM Sidecar, Burgman/Texas Ranger, Zuma 50F, MB5, TW200, CRF250L

Hi Lee: I should have joined years ago, but it's never to late. I have built all new molds of my SL-220 sidecar and if some need a new sidecar I would be more than happy to build one for someone. When I was a little shaver back just after WWII my dad who raced for the Indian Motorcycle Factory always had a sidecar. His sidecar was custom built when he took four 1936 Buick front fenders and molded the front end out of them. The front of the sidecar looked like whats called a Goulding. He raced midget race cars and molded the back end like a midget racer tail section. He painted the sidecar with a shark mouth, and it was a girl shark, because it had big eye lashes. On the very front he placed a model airplane propeller so that when he was riding down the street the small propeller would spin with the wind. As a young kid this was the ultimate sidecar and who wouldn't enjoy riding in it. Years later I was talking to my dad after being away from home for many years. I asked him about the old sidecar and as he told me the story I didn't realize it was a one of a kind, and that he had custom built. That's when the conversation turned to me designing and building a sidecar because of the opportunity that existed. My background is in Automotive design, mechanical Engineering, and fiberglass having been in that buisness since 1968. My dad at the time was a Captain in the Merchant Marines and had been making the trip from Japan to the United States caring motorcycles. He new that there where no sidecars being shipped into the US and at the time a guy named Doug Binghem was the guy in the know when it came to sidecars. Mr. Binghem was on the West coast so gave him a call and he sent me a drawing of his design for the frame. Later when I designed my frame for my new sidecar I used the boat trailer wheel and swing arm arrangement that Binghem was using. I placed the first sidecar frame on a moto cross bike and ran the hell out of it. The shock arm weld broke so I braced it and from then on I used the same set up on all 450 of my sidecar. I did make some changes over the years but the basic design back then and even today has been the same. I needed a body and I had a good friend that was a better artist than myself. Dick Lion, and I drew out the design and we spent six week sculpturing the original plug for the fiberglass mold. (see story about how the body and mold was made on page 4.) Once the frame and body where completed it was time to mount the first unit on a bike. I had a Honda 750 and that became the proto type. I had a buddy the was an upholsterer, and said he would do the upholstery for me on my prototype sidecar. great! but we had a problem; the original selling price was going to be $400, that would be $4,000 in today's money. When I took the sidecar to my upholstery buddy I happened to ask him what it was going to cost to upholster my sidecars. He said it wouldn't be bad about $350 per unit. I told him I was selling them for $400. Needless to say I didn't have him do any upholstery work. So I went into Boston to Reliable Sowing Machine Company, and purchased a brand new KONSEW machine. I then had to teach myself how to stitch; well four hundred and fifty sidecar upholstery's later and I still have the machine and it still works like the day I purchased it. I sold a few sidecars to local dealers, but all my sales where direct to the customers. I ran adds in all the Boston papers and covered the local towns for about fifty miles around my shop in Southern New Hampshire. We made friendships that have lasted for almost forty years and some of my sidecars are still being driven by members of the same family. Kids where born riding in there dad's sidecar, and later there children would ride in the same sidecar. I got into helping the handicapped, and in the future Ill show pictures of some of the different rigs I built over the years. (check pages 3 and 4 for stories.) It's been fun writing about the old days. If any of you out there have any questions, and I can help write me an email. Later, Johnny Sweet PE.

So post some sweet pictures here.

Phelonius

I did finally figure out how to post pictures; enjoy. Johnny

Johnny Sweet - 4/21/2011 10:43 PM

Ill try and figure out how to do [post pics]....I should be able to figure it out in a few days....

Johnny, it may be easier to first set up and Album on this forum, with caption notes. For example: https://www.sidecar.com/mbbs22/photos/photo-main.asp?viewmember=5975

It took Phel and me both several, several tries to figure out the photo posting process.

Here's "my" method:
1. Resize pic, that is, make it smaller so it will display in the "saved" size (such as "Web-Large" or Web-Small" on your photo editor, such as Microsoft Photo Picture Manager);
2. Post to web hosting site -- such as smugmug, photobucket, our albums, etc.; and
3. Insert in forum post: where "xxxxx" is the "Image Location" without spaces after before .

By the way, the code for the Image Location needs to be the the specific pic rather than a group/collection/album location.

So you get this: Here's a pic from our album of Corkie's first "solo" ride in July 2010:

When eliminating the three dots "..." after "" you get:

See more discussion here: https://www.sidecar.com/mbbs22/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=8035&posts...

Lee Summer Grove, LA R1100GS/CSM Sidecar, Burgman/Texas Ranger, Zuma 50F, MB5, TW200, CRF250L

hi johnny,welcome aboard. i remember seeing sweet sidecars around northern mass-southern new hampshire in the late seventies, from time to time i come across one, i often wondered what happened to the manufacturer of them, happy to hear you are doing well, mike

Hi Chad:
Like I mentioned I built all my Sweet SL-100 and 220 sidecars in Southern New Hampshire. It wasn't uncommon to go out on any summer day and see a Sweet sidecar traveling down the road. As it turned out New England was a very unique place and over time would become a hot bed for sidecars. New Englanders are somewhat adventuress, and they beat a path to my door wanting my sidecar. Through the years when I talked to other sidecar manufactures in other parts of the country I found that they had to market to the entire country, but all I had to do was market around the greater Boston area to fill my production schedule.
When I moved down South I found the market to be totally different. Southerners must have a handicap before they will even consider a sidecar, or that's the way it was fifteen or twenty years ago.
I can't beleave the dozens, and dozens of personal emails I've received in the last few days. I'm going to set up a special email account just for sidecars.
Well thanks for posting a reply. Later, Johnny Sweet

http://www.johnnysweetdesigns.com/scc.html

Is this your design? Are they for sale?

Aloha Johnny,

Maybe you can help me on this; I have a 1983 Honda Shadow 750cc. I want to add a sidecar.

Q. Is there a brand name I should look for?

Q. Can I purchase just the undercarriage and then custom build out of plywood the car body?

I am thinking plywood and a retro 'Woody' look. Also expense is a factor as I need to get into this as low cost as I can.

Your ideas are appreciated.

Jonathan in Kohala, Hawaii.