Rare Running Project – 1985 Pulse Autocycle

In 3 Wheels, America by Tim HuberLeave a Comment

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Post Sale Update: This Autocycle sold for $8,600 after 71 bids on eBay.


It probably comes as no surprise to learn the Pulse Autocycle was the brainchild of an aircraft designer. Jim Bede is best known for bringing the world the BD-4 and BD-5 aircraft kits — the latter of which made an appearance in the 1983 James Bond movie Octopussy. Bede’s idea was to offer an affordable aircraft kit that buyers could build themselves, eliminating the steep labor costs typically associated with producing an aircraft. Though a few thousand kits were sold, Bede’s company went under in 1975.

A couple years later the aircraft designer founded Bede Design, the company responsible for introducing the Litestar Autocycle. Bede — who built the very first example by hand — would then sell the design to the Owosso Motor Car Company which supposedly produced 347 units between ’84 and ’90. The first 21 units were sold under the “Lightstar” moniker, while the remaining 326 units went under the “Pulse” name. The very first examples were powered by 450cc Honda engines, though this would later be changed to 400cc Yamaha mills. Eventually Owosso started offering 1,100 and 1,200cc Goldwing-powered versions, though every version of Owosso’s autocycles used five-speed transmissions that also boasted a reverse gear.

In 1990, the Owosso Motor Car Company folded, at which point production of vehicles and parts came to an abrupt end. This makes sourcing replacement parts particularly difficult, though that hasn’t stopped a dedicated, albeit niche, group of autocycle enthusiasts from owning, driving, and enjoying these bizarre 2+2 wheelers. 2018 actually marked the 20th anniversary of the International Litestar and Pulse Rally and Convention held every Labor Day weekend in Marion, Indiana. Fun fact: a Pulse was actually featured in Back To The Future 2 alongside some other “futuristic” looking vehicles that were dressed up for the film. Universal Studios supposedly leased more than half-a-dozen Autocycles for the production.

This particular example was purchased new in Texas prior to ending up in storage in Pennsylvania where it then sat for the next two decades. When the current owner stumbled upon this example it was apparently in pieces inside of a trailer. After getting it home, the owner replaced the brakes and tires, greased the wheel bearings, gave the engine — a 400cc Yamaha DOHC engine — an oil change and rebuilt the carbs.

As the seller states in the ad, this example is far from perfect, and can use a fair amount of TLC both mechanically and cosmetically. The frame is said to be “clean and rust free”, and the seller says they have all the original pieces, with the exception of the mirrors, front turn signals, and engine cover. The odo (which currently reads 7,216) reportedly doesn’t work either. Restoring this example will probably be tricky due to the rarity of parts, however these are worth a decent amount when in clean condition. Plus, the massive windscreen/shield (the most expensive and difficult part to source or have custom made) looks to be in really good shape.

Because only a few hundred examples were produced, these airplane-esque vehicles are pretty rare. Surviving examples are usually worth a decent amount, based on the $27.5K asking price of the Pulse example I featured last summer, and the $40,700 sale price of a clean 1986 example at a Mecum auction in 2014. Having said that, this example is a 400cc version, and is a bit rough around the edges, so it should be interesting to see what this thing sells for.

You can find this 1985 Owosso Pulse (VIN: 17jtv12j1fm000073) for sale in Millbury, Massachusetts with bidding up to $1,725 and the reserve met

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