1957 Type C Nimbus Motorcycle
The Danish Solution
Jamie Spitzley's 1957 Nimbus Type C sidecar rig.
Photo by Clement Salvadori
Type C Nimbus
Years produced: 1934-1959
Total production: 12,500 (est.)
Claimed power: 18-22hp @ 4,500rpm
Top speed: 70mph (no sidecar)
Engine type: 746cc overhead cam, air-cooled inline four
Weight (dry): 185kg (408lb)
Price then: $1,200 (std. model, approx.)
Price now: $6,500-$11,000
A slow run down a country road. Stopping to smell the roses, having a picnic, or maybe working in a California vineyard, the sidecar holding baskets full of grapes and bags full of fertilizer — or just going to check that the irrigation is working right — that’s the purpose of this Type C Nimbus motorcycle sidecar rig.
And that is the workaday reality of the fine machine portrayed here, still in its original 50-year-old livery, not all spruced up with flashy paint and polished chrome. After all, when was the last time you saw a real farmer detailing his elderly John Deere tractor?
Read Jamie Spitzley's review of owning and riding the 1957 Type C Nimbus
No, this Nimbus motorcycle is not one of those shiny restorations, nor is it the machine you want for running along the Interstate at 80mph or ripping past Porsches while going over 12,000ft Independence Pass. This was intended to be a utilitarian workhorse, a back-woods hauler; run it slow, and it would run nigh on forever.
This makes sense when you appreciate that this machine was originally conceived in the small, flat nation of Denmark back in 1915, when roads were unpaved and motor vehicles still made way for horse-drawn wagons.
This 1957 Type C Nimbus, the third rendition of the Nimbus, is powered by an inline 750cc four, with a single overhead camshaft, three-speed transmission and shaft drive. The engine and gearbox are bolted into a strap-steel frame, rigid-style with no rear suspension and telescoping front forks.
With a modest 5.4:1 compression ratio, the engine starts first kick, will cheerfully idle all day long, and will last for many years if the external valve mechanism is occasionally lubricated. In line with the Danish thinking on sensible environmental policies, the crankcase breather runs straight into the body of the slide carburetor, ensuring maximum combustion of all petroleum by-products and minimal contamination of the air.
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