Three wheels on my Popemobile

I am a subscriber to Real Classic magazine and do not usually get to see Old Bike Mart.

However, recently a friend showed me an article from your August edition by Mick Payne about sidecars, as he saw that I was mentioned in the article and it concerned my sidecar outfit, which has always been nicknamed the ‘Popemobile’.

I would like to assure Mick that the sidecar is still very much in circulation, although for a variety of reasons it does not get used anywhere near as much now as when he knew it.


As Mick says, it was Keith Wash of Unit Sidecars who gave it that nickname, as its first owner was named Pope and it was built around the same time as the real Popemobile.

The Harley Sportster that was fitted to it when Mick tried it out for a write-up in Motorcycle Sport magazine in 1994, and which was not the bike attached to it when I got it, was a rather disastrous and costly mistake by me.

I then compounded that with another even more costly disaster with the next bike I chose for it, a Moto Shifty.


After that experience I sort of gave up and left the sidecar on its own, stored in the garage for five years before deciding I wanted a sidecar again and getting Unit Sidecars to fit the current bike in 2004, a BMW R1100GS which had been owned by one of the Unit Sidecars team.

It is never going to be an agile or sporting outfit to drive and the sidecar woodwork, which is mainly plywood, is now starting to show its age, but it is still okay for what we want it for and, after all, even though the bike is only 26 years old the sidecar itself is now 37 years old, which is not bad going.

Colin Atkinson


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