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Valmobile Fold Away Scooter- 1950
While not a household name, Victor Bouffort (1912-1995) was a prolific French inventor of the mid-20th century. He began working as an aeronautics engineer in the 1930s, and decided to try his hand at designing automobiles after World War II. He is credited with designing several one-off microcars. The French military also commissioned Bouffort to design the Lohr Fardier, a four-wheel drive vehicle that could be dropped by parachute, as well as the Chenillette HB 40, a tracked polar exploration vehicle.
Inspired by the collapsible Welbike motorcycle used by British paratroops during the war, Bouffort developed a prototype for a folding, stow-away scooter in the early 1950s. He dubbed his creation the Valmobile (roughly translated as “mobile suitcase”), and it was most likely powered by an Alter 60cc two-stroke engine. Unfolding the Valmobile involved lifting up the seat, taking out the handlebars, cross-member, and front wheel, and putting it all together without tools. Folded up, it weighs about 75 lbs.
Bouffort filed for a patent in 1953. The Martin-Moulet company began production of the Valmobile in 1955, but sales were slow. Martin-Moulet ceased production the next year, but the Hirano Motorcycle Company of Tokyo would take up production in 1956 and bring the Valmobile to scooter-crazed Japan and North America. Clever marketing helped sell nearly 100,000 Valmobiles before production finally ceased in 1961.
When Lane Motor Museum acquired this Valmobile in 2018, it was purported to be the original 1950 prototype. However, further research indicates the prototype was actually built in 1951 and looks quite different than the one seen here. We are continuing to research this model and will update the website as new information becomes available.
Manufacturer: Victor Bouffort
Country of Origin: France
Drivetrain Configuration: Mid-engine, rear wheel drive
Engine: 49cc VLT2, two-stroke, air-cooled, one-cylinder, 2.8hp
Transmission: Two-speed manual
Top Speed: 35 mph
Years of Production: 1950
Number Produced: 1
Development Cost: unknown