Westrand Car Show - 1916 -17 Clyno Prototype

Clyno – The thin red line between success and failure


This is the story of a young company that had the potential of greatness, but failed in circumstances beyond their control combined with one or unexplained moments of poor judgement. The thin red line between success and failure is clearly demonstrated in this post.

In the early 1900’s two cousins, Frank and Alwyn Smith, designed and manufactured a variable belt pulley. This pulley was designed for early belt motorcycles and was called an inclined pulley. It was later called ‘Clined’ and finally ended up as ‘Clyno’. Thus, the Clyno marque was born.

Westrand Car Show - 1923 Clyno Car Advert
1923 Clyno Car Advert
Tea Garden, cakes and puddings

The “Clyno” pulley was in fact one of the earliest adaptations of the “CVT transmission” credited to Milton Reeves in 1879 and successfully used by himself in a motor vehicle in 1910 and by DAF of Holland in their entire DAF range from the DAF 600 in 1959 to the DAF 66 in 1976.

CVT is today fairly common in Honda and Nissan vehicles and experimented with by many others, including BMW, Mercedes, Subaru and Volvo in the Volvo 66.

The Clyno Engineering Company was founded in 1909 and that same year they exhibited two of their motorcycles at the “Stanley Show” – a single cylinder 3HP machine and a 5/6HP V twin. Both motorcycles were fitted with the patented Clyno variable speed pulley.

Clyno went on to develop their own motorcycle engines which included a V twin 5/6HP motorcycle and a pioneering 2 stroke lightweight engine. The war years came and the 5/6HP that proved to be very successful was supplied to the Motor Machine Gun Corp. Halfway through the first world war Alwyn left the company while Frank continued as the sole owner.

In 1918, Clyno employed Charles M. van Eugene to assist in the design of Clyno’s first motor car. At the same time the company was reformed as the Clyno Engineering Company (1922)Ltd.

Westrand Car Show - 1925 Clyno Regent Advert
1925 Clyno Regent Advert

The first production car was introduced in 1923. It was 10.8HP lightweight model using a Clyno badged Coventry Climax Model F engine. The car was well received by motorists and immediately the Clyno brand was established and seen as competition by other manufacturers including Morris and Austin Motors, who were at Clyno’s throat until the decline of the Clyno Company in 1928 and its demise in 1929.

Clyno went on to produce a range of cars from two-seater open tourers to luxury saloons using engines known as the 11 HP, 12/28HP 13 HP and 12/35 HP. The cars were very well designed and built, not bad looking and consistently undercut the selling prices of equivalent competitors.

Clyno grew to be the third biggest car manufacturer in the UK, behind Austin and Morris, and they moved into a bigger factory in 1927. Unfortunately, the depression badly affected smaller businesses of all types, including Clyno, who, on top of that, made a few bad business decisions at the time. They also introduced the Clyno Century which was not well received in the motoring world and the company sadly went into liquidation in 1929.

Approximately 45000 Clyno Cars were produced in 5 short years.

The Westrand Car Show is a Classic Car Show. TO QUALIFY FOR ENTRANCE TO A COMPETITIVE CLASS, VEHICLES MUST HAVE BEEN BUILT OR REGISTERED FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 1999 OR EARLIER. Only the first 180 QUALIFYING vehicles will receive a commemorative medallion. Any newer vehicle is welcome to be entered as a “non-competitive vehicle” and to be placed on show just because of “the spirit of motoring” and the desire to share the joy that your wheels bring you, with all of the rest of us. See the list of classes below and the entrance form. Remember its a fun day, so don’t take it too seriously.

Non-Competitive vehicles may enter at the gate on the day.

The Westrand Car Show is an alcohol-free event and any person found to have in their possession or to be consuming alcohol will not be admitted and/or will be asked to leave the premises of Dr. Havinga School. 


Die Westrand Car Show is ‘n klassieke motorskou. OM TE KWALIFISEER VIR TOEGANG TOT ‘N KOMPETERENDE KLAS, MOET VOERTUIE VIR DIE EERSTE KEER IN 1999 OF VROEËR GEBOU OF GEREGISTREER WORD. Slegs die eerste 180 KWALIFISERENDE voertuie sal ‘n gedenkmedalje ontvang. Enige nuwer voertuig is welkom om as ‘n “nie-mededingende voertuig” ingeskryf te word, en dit net te danke aan” die gees van motor” en die begeerte om die vreugde wat u wiele vir u bring, saam met ons almal te deel. Kyk na die lys van klasse hieronder en die ingangsvorm. Onthou, dis ‘n pret dag moenie dit te ernstig opneem.

Nie-mededingende voertuie mag op die dag by die hek inteken.

Die Westrand Car Show is ‘n alkoholvrye gebeurtenis, en enige persoon wat bevind dat hy in besit is en/of alkohol inneem, sal nie toegelaat word nie en/of gevra sal word om die perseel van die Dr. Havinga skool te verlaat.

Competition Classes Enter Your Vehicle

IMAGE ATTRIBUTION – We are indebted to the authors of the “History Website” of the UK who very kindly allowed us to make use of their images and some of the most interesting history of the Clyno.