This is an original David Bradley “Sport Kart” from 1959, it was created just three years after the go kart had first been invented by Art Ingels in Los Angeles in 1956.
With the advent of the go kart Sears wasted no time in selling their own version designed and built by their wholly-owned subsidiary David Bradley, they made it available for nationwide delivery through their catalogue.
Fast Facts – The David Bradley “Sport Kart”
- The David Bradley Manufacturing Company was founded in 1884 by David Bradley and Conrad Furst , it was originally called Furst and Bradley however the Bradley family bought out Furst sometime later and changed the name.
- The company became one of the largest manufacturers of farming and gardening equipment in the country, they would later become famous for their ride on mowers and their walk-behind, two-wheel garden tractors.
- In 1910 the company was bought out by Sears, after which their products began appearing in the nationally famous Sears catalogue.
- David Bradley developed their own version of the go kart in the late 1950s and sold it through the catalogue. It was powered by a simple Clinton single-cylinder engine with power sent to the rear wheels via a belt drive.
The Arrival Of The Go Kart
The genius of Art Ingels go kart design lay mainly in its simplicity. Anyone with basic welding ability could create one, and many of the parts needed could be sourced from pre-existing machinery – like lawn mowers which often supplied the engines.
The popularity of the go kart took off like wildfire, first on the West Coast and then nationwide with the first official race taking place in the parking lot of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California with several dozen home-built go karts of various shapes and sizes taking part.
Before long there were local, state, and national racine leagues, followed by international championships that are still running today.
The key thing that holds many people back from getting into motorsport is the high costs that are typically involved. Go karts suddenly removed this barrier due to their extremely low costs to buy, race, and maintain.
As a result many generations of world champion racing drivers started their careers in karting.
The David Bradley Sport Kart
The David Bradley Sport Kart was one of the first mass-produced go karts in the world, it was designed and built by the David Bradley Manufacturing Company which had been acquired by Sears, Roebuck and Company in 1910.
After the purchase company’s garden machinery including the famous “Garden Riding Tractor” were sold through the wildly popular Sears catalogue.
With the advent of the go kart in the mid-1950s the Sears catalogue wasted no time in selling their own version built by David Bradley. It was about as simple as a go kart could possibly be, with just a single steel tube forming the backbone chassis.
There are red steel wheels at each corner fitted with solid rubber tires (non-pneumatic), riding on solid axles. Simple bumpers are fitted front and back, and the singe-cylinder engine was sourced from Clinton – one of the biggest industrial engine manufacturers in the country at the time.
A simple padded seat is fitted behind a semi-circular steering wheel that was chosen to ensure the driver would have clearance to get their legs under it when sitting down. Up front you’ll find two large pedals, one to go and one to stop.
Exact sales figures of the David Bradley Sport Kart aren’t known, though we do see them come up for sale from time to time in varying states of preservation or restoration.
The 1959 David Bradley Sport Kart Shown Here
The David Bradley Sport Kart you see here benefits from an extensive restoration that appears to have returned it to as-new condition throughout – right down to the engine and chassis ID plates.
As you would expect it’s powered by a Clinton single-cylinder engine that powers the rear axle via a belt drive system. The seat, steering yoke, pedals, and wheels all look to be in excellent shape, and the chassis is too.
If you’d like to read more about this unusual historic go kart you can visit the listing here on The Market by Bonhams. It’s being auctioned out of Newburg, Oregon with a price guide of $1,000 – $1,500 USD.
Images courtesy of The Market by Bonhams
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.