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New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 4/21/2011 8:55 PM (#57452)
Subject: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.

Hi everyone:
My name is Johnny Sweet and I started manufacturing sidecars in 1972. I designed and built each sidecar in a small shop in Southern New Hampshire and by the middle of the 1970's we built up to 4 units a week. My sidecars were called the Sweet SL-110 and in all I built five different models that sold for $635 by the mid 70's. That would be like $5,000 in today's money. All my sidecars where custom mounted to the customers motorcycle. At the time the biggest sellers where for the Honda, and other Jap bikes along with a few BMW's although the BMW caught on in time and I built over fifty units specific for the German bike. I did mount around 50 units on Harley's, but they where not very popular at the time. Harley's at that time where built by AMF better off left in the garage before they broke down.

For those of you that are new to this forum may find pages 3 and 4 very interesting with stories from the past and how I built my sidecars.

 

 This is a few of the different SL model sidecars along with the builder Johnny Sweet in the 1990's about the time that he was winding down building sidecars .

 

 

 

There was a sidecar rally once a year somewhere in New England, and my Sweet SL 110's would make up over half the entrants. We at the time would donate the trophies, and more than once took home the winning awards. It was by peoples choice, so no favoritism could be claimed.
Last year I pulled out my old molds and built a new plug for the original SL-110. Over the last almost forty years my Sweet Sl-110 sidecars have been mounted on many different types and styles of motorcycles. Many write up's have been written and they always come up with the same conclusion. The Sweet SL-110 sidecar is a timeless design.
I moved out of New England in 1988, and live in South Carolina. I built about 12 sidecars in the last twenty years. Most where the Harley copy of the Liberty that I still to this day have the molds. I keep around five sidecars in stock even if no one knows I still have them. I have a passion for these things, and it's like a security blanket for an old man. O, By the way I'm 66 as of this writing. As you can see I've been involved with sidecars most of my adult life.
In 2008 I sculptured the Lehman Victory Crossbow Trike for Lehman Trikes of Spearfish South Dakota. It was an interesting project, and the finished product has been successfully excepted by the customers, and public.
I'm new to this General Discussion board, but if any of you need help or information about sidecars. I know a few things, after all I did built 450 of them. You may email me at jsweet450@yahoo.com.
If you would like pictures of my Sweet SL-110 just drop me a line.

Johnny Sweet PE.



Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/22/2017 9:00 PM
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SwampFox
Posted 4/21/2011 9:21 PM (#57453 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Location: Summer Grove, LA USA
Hi Johnny: Welcome to the forum. I'm relatively new to sidecars and I've only seen your cars in pictures, but they sure looked nice. Thanks for posting up, and for you offer of assistance.
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 4/21/2011 10:22 PM (#57455 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Hi Lee: I should have joined years ago, but it's never to late. I have built all new molds of my SL-220 sidecar and if some need a new sidecar I would be more than happy to build one for someone. When I was a little shaver back just after WWII my dad who raced for the Indian Motorcycle Factory always had a sidecar. His sidecar was custom built when he took four 1936 Buick front fenders and molded the front end out of them. The front of the sidecar looked like whats called a Goulding. He raced midget race cars and molded the back end like a midget racer tail section. He painted the sidecar with a shark mouth, and it was a girl shark, because it had big eye lashes. On the very front he placed a model airplane propeller so that when he was riding down the street the small propeller would spin with the wind. As a young kid this was the ultimate sidecar and who wouldn't enjoy riding in it. Years later I was talking to my dad after being away from home for many years. I asked him about the old sidecar and as he told me the story I didn't realize it was a one of a kind, and that he had custom built. That's when the conversation turned to me designing and building a sidecar because of the opportunity that existed. My background is in Automotive design, mechanical Engineering, and fiberglass having been in that buisness since 1968. My dad at the time was a Captain in the Merchant Marines and had been making the trip from Japan to the United States caring motorcycles. He new that there where no sidecars being shipped into the US and at the time a guy named Doug Binghem was the guy in the know when it came to sidecars. Mr. Binghem was on the West coast so gave him a call and he sent me a drawing of his design for the frame. Later when I designed my frame for my new sidecar I used the boat trailer wheel and swing arm arrangement that Binghem was using. I placed the first sidecar frame on a moto cross bike and ran the hell out of it. The shock arm weld broke so I braced it and from then on I used the same set up on all 450 of my sidecar. I did make some changes over the years but the basic design back then and even today has been the same. I needed a body and I had a good friend that was a better artist than myself. Dick Lion, and I drew out the design and we spent six week sculpturing the original plug for the fiberglass mold. (see story about how the body and mold was made on page 4.) Once the frame and body where completed it was time to mount the first unit on a bike. I had a Honda 750 and that became the proto type. I had a buddy the was an upholsterer, and said he would do the upholstery for me on my prototype sidecar. great! but we had a problem; the original selling price was going to be $400, that would be $4,000 in today's money. When I took the sidecar to my upholstery buddy I happened to ask him what it was going to cost to upholster my sidecars. He said it wouldn't be bad about $350 per unit. I told him I was selling them for $400. Needless to say I didn't have him do any upholstery work. So I went into Boston to Reliable Sowing Machine Company, and purchased a brand new KONSEW machine. I then had to teach myself how to stitch; well four hundred and fifty sidecar upholstery's later and I still have the machine and it still works like the day I purchased it. I sold a few sidecars to local dealers, but all my sales where direct to the customers. I ran adds in all the Boston papers and covered the local towns for about fifty miles around my shop in Southern New Hampshire. We made friendships that have lasted for almost forty years and some of my sidecars are still being driven by members of the same family. Kids where born riding in there dad's sidecar, and later there children would ride in the same sidecar. I got into helping the handicapped, and in the future Ill show pictures of some of the different rigs I built over the years. (check pages 3 and 4 for stories.) It's been fun writing about the old days. If any of you out there have any questions, and I can help write me an email. Later, Johnny Sweet PE.<br />

Edited by Johnny Sweet 2/4/2015 9:46 AM
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Phelonius
Posted 4/21/2011 10:40 PM (#57456 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Elite Veteran

Posts: 725
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Location: N.lat 20- 13' -58" W.lon 155 - 48' - 31"
So post some sweet pictures here.

Phelonius
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 4/21/2011 10:43 PM (#57457 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
<p>I did finally figure out how to post pictures; enjoy. Johnny</p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/uCWfDsLzhI672whDMoHhqC0uVcyFhophk84LPwVB8AYpX92IB?viewBox=923%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/XWD9LLPrcC5YVuOdpIPY4b7MPknbLngVVbtRwXYQ3cgpX92IB?viewBox=910%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/g8BEM18ZdQId4FDTDgri2sS07_unMqcwNLMXfS_f6VspX92IB?viewBox=901%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/I9UbEXzSSJ5BqWLYAFkxMqRU46tqi8AhTnaOoUOntFkpX92IB?viewBox=939%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/8Sinjvt2ybg9AK6_BmHQltykZ00Tyztwdd1a7-ckgu4pX92IB?viewBox=883%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/bg_P53RIpdlYoVn4IHu953TlH2P4kW6pabOwbuVaXD0pX92IB?viewBox=822%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/_5apz3L6UE1m5tPINJLq_00R39JjS7_pEfRlhsqLDW8pX92IB?viewBox=939%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> <img src="https://content-na.drive.amazonaws.com/cdproxy/templink/F5raPi-Zx0_9neNfCCIBmVOmHgrTAfGKhpa8V91dWzYpX92IB?viewBox=957%2C659" border="0" /></p><p> </p>

Edited by Johnny Sweet 8/22/2017 9:08 PM
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SwampFox
Posted 4/21/2011 11:40 PM (#57458 - in reply to #57457)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Location: Summer Grove, LA USA
Johnny Sweet - 4/21/2011 10:43 PM

Ill try and figure out how to do [post pics]....I should be able to figure it out in a few days....


Johnny, it may be easier to first set up and Album on this forum, with caption notes. For example: http://www.sidecar.com/mbbs22/photos/photo-main.asp?viewmember=5975

It took Phel and me both several, several tries to figure out the photo posting process.

Here's "my" method:
1. Resize pic, that is, make it smaller so it will display in the "saved" size (such as "Web-Large" or Web-Small" on your photo editor, such as Microsoft Photo Picture Manager);
2. Post to web hosting site -- such as smugmug, photobucket, our albums, etc.; and
3. Insert in forum post: < img src=xxxxxx > where "xxxxx" is the "Image Location" without spaces after before <&>.

By the way, the code for the Image Location needs to be the the specific pic rather than a group/collection/album location.

So you get this: Here's a pic from our album of Corkie's first "solo" ride in July 2010:

<...img src=http://www.sidecar.com/mbbs22/photos/get-photo.asp?photoid=2890...>

When eliminating the three dots "..." after "<" and before ">" you get:



See more discussion here: http://www.sidecar.com/mbbs22/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=8035&posts...
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chaddokid
Posted 4/24/2011 7:55 PM (#57511 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Regular

Posts: 53
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Location: mass usa
hi johnny,welcome aboard. i remember seeing sweet sidecars around northern mass-southern new hampshire in the late seventies, from time to time i come across one, i often wondered what happened to the manufacturer of them, happy to hear you are doing well, mike
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 4/24/2011 8:48 PM (#57512 - in reply to #57511)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Hi Chad:
Like I mentioned I built all my Sweet SL-100 and 220 sidecars in Southern New Hampshire. It wasn't uncommon to go out on any summer day and see a Sweet sidecar traveling down the road. As it turned out New England was a very unique place and over time would become a hot bed for sidecars. New Englanders are somewhat adventuress, and they beat a path to my door wanting my sidecar. Through the years when I talked to other sidecar manufactures in other parts of the country I found that they had to market to the entire country, but all I had to do was market around the greater Boston area to fill my production schedule.
When I moved down South I found the market to be totally different. Southerners must have a handicap before they will even consider a sidecar, or that's the way it was fifteen or twenty years ago.
I can't beleave the dozens, and dozens of personal emails I've received in the last few days. I'm going to set up a special email account just for sidecars.
Well thanks for posting a reply. Later, Johnny Sweet

Edited by Johnny Sweet 3/1/2013 11:25 AM
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Hackpirate
Posted 5/2/2011 11:12 AM (#57592 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Member

Posts: 5
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http://www.johnnysweetdesigns.com/scc.html

Is this your design? Are they for sale?
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alohajon
Posted 5/3/2011 1:10 AM (#57617 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Aloha Johnny,

Maybe you can help me on this; I have a 1983 Honda Shadow 750cc. I want to add a sidecar.


Q. Is there a brand name I should look for?


Q. Can I purchase just the undercarriage and then custom build out of plywood the car body?

I am thinking plywood and a retro 'Woody' look. Also expense is a factor as I need to get into this as low cost as I can.

Your ideas are appreciated.

Jonathan in Kohala, Hawaii.
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SidecarMike
Posted 5/3/2011 8:09 AM (#57620 - in reply to #57617)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Expert

Posts: 1710
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Location: Menomonie, Wisconsin USA
http://www.dmcsidecars.com/Sidecars/sidecar%20frames.htm
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/3/2011 8:19 AM (#57621 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Hi Jonathan:
I'm in the process of doing a photo book on how to build a sidecar frame and mounts for as little as a few hundred dollars All my 450 sidecar frames and mounts where and are easily made at a very reasonable price. I will start with the mounts and a history of how I simplified the process over the last forty years. Also how to determine the sidecar wheel in relationship to the rear wheel of the motorcycle. This is the starting point. I have noticed over the years when looking at different sidecars mounted to different bikes they seem to be just mounted without any thought as to where the sidecar wheel should be placed., When a guy writes in and has a problem with the bike and sidecar darting all over the road I have wondered why no on mentions first to check the sidecar wheel lead.
A guy has to have some hand tool experience. You, or a friend MUST know how to weld, and use an Oxygen/ acetylene torch. Most of my frames are made from 1 1/2" square tubing. I use 1" hot rolled solid round stock steel for the mounting rods. I originally used 3/4" round stock. It will not work. It will bend. I do not use tubing. Over time they will bend. Years ago I did a structural analysis of the frame. I'm a Mechanical Engineer with a PE. The mounting hardware went through changes over the years. When I started building sidecars I was twenty seven years old. The woman in there forty's where concerned that the sidecars would come off while being driven along the roadway. Years ago any TV show with a sidecar always had the sidecar break loose from the motorcycle. So I used a 3/4" nut and bolt. Later I down sized to 1/2", and finally to a 3/8" bolt, nut combination. I was young when I started manufacturing sidecars and not privy to the real world and what a pain in the ass most woman are. I also spent one year driving my sidecar without nuts on the mounting bolts for all to see. The chances of them falling out are slim to none. I drove all year without them ever come out of the mounts.
We estimated that my sidecars traveled over a million miles. We had one guy drive his BMW over 100,000 miles. We also had some that purchased my sidecars and took them home and removed them. When I asked they said they had no intention on driving it. They just wanted to say they owned one. As you can see there is no rhyme nor reason to some peoples thinking. I would drive whatever unit I had at the time about eight thousand miles a year. I never new when someone would come along and give me two to three times what the unit was worth. You just can't figure things at times.
While I was manufacturing my Sweet SL-110 sidecar I raced what's called Hydroplanes racing boats. On any given weekend I was racing at speeds as high as 175MPH. We at one time owned the Miss Bardahl. I set up an account just in case I got injured, or worse so that any customer would get there deposit back if I couldn't for fill my commitment building there sidecar.
I've always wondered why some young guy didn't design and build sidecars. I guess not all are Entrepreneur's.
You may email me at jsweet450@yahoo.com and I will send you some pictures of my sidecars, and the drawings of my mounts and frame. I'm still working on setting up the pictures with captions under them instructing how to build the frame, and mounts from scratch.
I have also built Super Modified race cars, Pitts aerobatic airplanes, I had a factory building 55 T Birds with twenty five employees. In the last three years I've sculptured a 51 Merk Lead Sled, Shelby Cobra reproductions. But something you can see in real life is the Victory Crossbow trike for Lehman. There at a local Victory dealers around the world. I sculptured the original proto type for Lehman in 2008. Or you can Goggle images and find the Victory Crossbow. I love this stuff, but sidecars and the people I've built them for are my favorites, along with hydroplanes. I would like to see more people building sidecars. It doesn't take a full blown company to do it. I proved that. You can get an insurance policy to protect your assets if that stopping someone. That's what I did.
I'm blabbing, so let me move on. Later, Johnny Sweet
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newenglandjim
Posted 5/8/2011 10:10 PM (#57727 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: RE: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



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Posts: 134
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Johnny, is this one of your hacks ?



(photo10.jpg)



Attachments
----------------
Attachments photo10.jpg (119KB - 80 downloads)
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/9/2011 7:21 AM (#57734 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
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Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Yes it's an original SL-110 model that someone installed a windshield on. The SL-110 was a wind in your face designed sidecar and this one looks to be in good shape for being around thirty six, or thirty seven years old. The paint and trim is one of my originals with the crest on the front. (For more about the crest check out the story on page 4.) I built fifty of the original SL-110's and then came out with the SL-2220 that had three changes with the tail light being blended into the rear of the body, and the windshield area being designed with a more pleasing look to accommodate a windshield. The SL-110 model was widely excepted even though it didn't have a windshield but even after I stopped building them in favor of the newer SL-220 I still received requests for them.
Thanks for posting the picture. I still have that mold. It's over forty years old.
Johnny Sweet

Edited by Johnny Sweet 3/1/2013 11:32 AM
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newenglandjim
Posted 5/10/2011 1:12 AM (#57754 - in reply to #57734)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 134
10025
Johnny Sweet - 5/9/2011 7:21 AM

Yes it's an original SL-110 model. Someone installed a windshield on it. That looks to be in good shape for being around thirty six, or thirty seven years old. Tht paint and trim is my doing. I built fifty of the original SL-110's. The next model had the tail light blended into the rear of the body, and the windshield area was designed with a more pleasing look to accommodate a windshield. That model was widely excepted even though it didn't have a windshield. After I stopped building it in favor of the newer SL-220 I still got requests for it.
Thanks for posting the picture. I still have that mold. It's going on forty years old.
Johnny Sweet

John
that's great, what are the chances of me running across one of your sidecars that soon after you sending me pictures of your work. I'm going to be posting it in the for sale section for him. I have a bunch of pics I'll post. I would have bought it myself if I hadn't already found the california sidecar.
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/10/2011 5:01 PM (#57765 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
You should have great luck with the California Sidecar, and Yes what's the chance. Although remember there where 450 units built, and over four hundred where sold within thirty miles of Boston. At one time in the late 70's the greater Boston area was the sidecar meca of the world. On any given weekend from May till October you couldn't make a trip up or down the main roads without seeing a sidecar. I have been told stories that people would make the pilgrimage to Hampton Beach and there would be as many as twenty five sidecars. Others would make the trip up to Mount Washington to drive to the top on the toll road and the gate keeper would comment about " Didn't you come threw here yesterday". In the early years most would wave when seeing another sidecar, but I noticed as they became more and more noticeable on the road the waves slowly stopped. It was a grand time, but like all things in life, times change.
I could have been still building my Sweet Sidecars without a let up, but I wanted to design and develop other products. Sidecars are unique to any other kind of transportation. It was fun building them and making friendships that have lasted for decades. I have many friends that where in business for years. They always complained about the bad customers. Ill be honest with you. I didn't have any. Many of my customers became my good friends. I watched young kids become adults and they then drove there children around in the sidecars. As far as bad customers. If a guy was an out and out jerk. I just gave him back his deposit and threw him out of the shop. Did it happen? You bet your life it did. Not very often, but it did happen. My buddies and myself where all combat veterans, and we where only out of the jungles about ten years back them. If a guy came into our world and didn't know how to act he was straightened out in quick order. We where never bully's, but took no crap from trouble makers. In fact the customers, and those that became friends always felt safe at our place. We had biker types that came in for a sidecar. We would take them around back and educate them to our world and how we expected them to behave. It was funny seeing different types all getting along like they new each other for years.
How about accidents. My sidecars where involved in eight that I know of. It was always driver error. They would bring them back and I would mount them on another bike. I forgot to mention that there would be minimal damage to the sidecar, and in most cases the bike was totaled. No deaths where ever attributed to my sidecars. Just thought I would throw that in there.
Thanks for the post.
Later, Johnny Sweet
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sturgis1982
Posted 5/22/2011 10:16 PM (#58039 - in reply to #57765)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Member

Posts: 31
25
very interesting,are these the Windhan, NH cars ? What can you tell me about this one, did you install it / would sure like to hear more of your thoughts....
ok AFTER READING A bit OF THIS FORUM i AM
A. Unsure why a few took your comments personal
B. ain't sure if you still have posting "privledges"
C. my e=mail address is scootaro@yahoo.com
D.still interested in your knowledge.
E if i don't hear from you I'll be sending a mail your way
F.sign me thickskinedandeasygoin

Edited by sturgis1982 5/23/2011 12:26 AM
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/23/2011 7:54 PM (#58054 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Yes my shop was in Windham. New Hampshire. The sidecar that was in the attachment before it was removed was what I called an SL-440 model. It was the third model in a line of five. It took the 220 model and stretched it 4". Not that the 220 needed any more length. With the longer length in the passenger compartment I installed a dash. That way if the customer wanted to install a radio they could. At that time in history not many bikes had fairings. The other thing about the 440 version was that the color came out in the fiberglass finish. I built the 440 in black, or white. I would say that 95% where black. The one in the picture was black. That's not my trim paint job. Someone would have added that extra color. All SL-110, and SL-220's where custom painted by me.
If a few took my comments personal don't give it a second thought. There where three I think. I've received over twenty personal emails from others that have a different view. In the process I've made new friends with like minded people.
I've been asked by many to write about my experiences building my little sidecars. At this time I've been doing that more on a personal bases. and haven't open up everything to the public. There again I only confide in like minded people.
My email address is jsweet450@yahoo.com.
Later, Johnny Sweet
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sturgis1982
Posted 5/23/2011 8:08 PM (#58055 - in reply to #58054)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Member

Posts: 31
25
Got your e-mail i'll forward a pic soon Still have more ???'s and will back channel them too

i think i deleted the pic on edit ill try to redo it soon.

Edited by sturgis1982 5/23/2011 8:14 PM
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ehadams
Posted 5/25/2011 4:01 PM (#58076 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Member

Posts: 8
0
Johnny,
Glad to see you pop up on the forum. We just picked up a sidecar rig for my wife yesterday. A 79 GL1000 with one of your sidecars on it. i did some searching to find out info about your products and that helped up decide to purchase the car.



Edited by ehadams 5/25/2011 4:01 PM
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/25/2011 5:21 PM (#58078 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
I would have built that one in 1979, or 80. It looks to be in good shape. Remember that rigs over thirty years old. As I mentioned before I built the SL-440 in black, or white. It did come with the side trim, but not that striping. It looks to me like the windshield has been replaced, or that it was cut down for some reason. Early on I found an easy way to attach the windshields by using the same snaps as I used on the upholstery. The upholstery is in good condition, and I can see the cover it still there. That sidecar back in the day was priced at $750.00 The cockpit cover was an additional $35.00. In todays world it would come out to about $5,500. The SL-220 sidecars built from 1974-1977, or 78 where priced at $600. and the cover was an extra $35. I built 4 units a week. In today's world that would be about $25,000 a week in sales. I had $118. in materials per sidecar. I would walk around the shop with a stop watch hanging around my neck timing every step. I was always trying to improve productivity. I find it interesting that many of my sidecars lasted all these years. They where built with the simplest of design, and I guess when I was manufacturing them I never thought about thirty years into the future. There was one thing that I've always known, and that was my sidecar shapes are whats called timeless designs. In later years I've reproduced the 55 T Bird, 51 Merk lead sled, and the Shelby Cobra's. All are timeless designs.
I've been asked about the mounting brackets and rods, and will they fit this, and that. Every Sweet sidecar was custom mounted to the customers motorcycle. I looked at adjustable mounts and decided against them. The biggest reason at the time was that I made money building sidecars. Not just a little money, but a lot. It afforded me the funding to race my World Class hydroplane racing boats. I would be building sidecars during the week, and on the weekends I would be racing hydroplanes at over 150 MPH. I later moved to Super Modified race cars. Very similar to World of Outlaws sprint cars. All this was posable because of the sidecars. If I took the time to do the R&D work it would have eaten up most of the money. Anyways that's how I looked at it. Every customer to me was important provided he wasn't a smart ass. I gave those guys the buisness almost immediately. My customers made me. Without them I wouldn't have a buisness, so I took the time to custom mount every unit. I started production in late March, and built sidecars until October. I would advertise in the Boston papers, and the smaller local rags. The adds where to the point, and didn't cost but a few $. " Motorcycle Sidecars manufactured, and installed $600.00 and a phone number" . The customers would start coming into the shop in March and I worked on a first come first served basses. I had a billboard on the shop wall. When a customer ordered a sidecar they got placed up on the wall in the order of sales. They had a number, and all the details of what was going to be done to there sidecar was written out. This way when they came in to see where they stood on the list, and how long it would be till it was there turn they could read over the details. If the details where incorrect they could be rectified. It worked great. You will always get a potential customer who wants to pay extra to be put at the head of the line. I always loved those guys. I'm an old Special Forces soldier, and we didn't have guys cutting line, or we would teach him a lesson. I guess I carried that thinking right on into my sidecar buisness. No line cutting. As each unit was delivered they got crossed of and the next numbers moved up. As I write this I can't explain how much fun we had, and how many great people we had a chance to meet.
Well I guess I got a little long winded, but hay, it was sure one good time. Later, Johnny Sweet jsweet450@yahoo.com
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Peter Pan
Posted 5/26/2011 3:18 PM (#58095 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Expert

Posts: 1914
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Location: San Isidro de Heredia, Costa Rica
Johnny,
your words sound very much like Hr. Döring back in Germany many years ago. Since the 50tees he was making fabulous row boats and his grand kids for sure continue near Lübeck.
God bless you.
Sven
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/27/2011 9:43 AM (#58098 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Hi:
I would like to thank the countless numbers of you that have taken the time to send me personal emails. I never thought there where as many of you reading this website. It's almost overwhelming.
Many of you have asked different questions about the processes I used when designing my original Sweet SL-110 sidecars, and how I over came them.
Early on I hit a wall when it came to the wives of some potential customers being concerned about the sidecar coming off while driving along. If you go back in history almost every time an old sidecar was in a movie, or on a TV show they always had a skit showing the sidecar going down the road on it's own. The wives would inspect the mounting bolts, and comment about there small size.
One day my dad came back to the shop with a 5 gallon plastic bucket full of 3'4" diameter Aluminum bolts, and nuts. These bolts, and nuts where huge, but didn't weight anything. He picked them up at a surplus yard somewhere. So I designed my mounting brackets, and rods to accept the larger light weight bolts, and nuts. I built around fifty units with this combination. It's funny, but the question about the sidecar detaching from the bike didn't come up as often once they saw the size of the bolts that I was using. The aluminum bolt, nut combination didn't have a lot strength, but they where sufficient. I later reduced the size of the bolts to 1/2".
Around this time I built another sidecar for myself. It always seemed that a customer would show up at the shop and whatever sidecar I was driving that's the one they want. The price was always 30% more and they didn't care. They could say it was my personal sidecar, and they where happy to pay the difference. While building this latest sidecar for myself I reduced the mounting bolts to 3/8". I also left the nuts off the bolts. On my design there are four 1" solid rods having adjusting fixtures on the two top rods and just a holes drilled in the two bottom rods. You can remove the sidecar from the bike in two to five minutes, and reinstall it in five to ten. You don't have to readjust the sidecar trim every time it's removed. I removed the nuts from the bolts and drove the unit all season long just to show that it was almost imposable for the sidecar to fall off the bike. Every so often I would have to tap a bolt back in place, but I never lost one. I finally ended up building all my sidecars with the 3/8" bolts, and nuts.
Years later I almost built a sidecar using 1/4" aircraft bolts just to screw with people. I built Pitts aerobatic airplanes in the 90's. Many of the wing components are held on using just a 1/4" aircraft bolts. Some of these bolts cost $5.00 a piece, and have strength values in the 250,000 range.
When I designed my original Sweet SL-110 sidecar I soon realized the mounting brackets would be the most complex part of the build. Every model, and brand is different. If I wanted to build sidecars for just the Honda for instance It would limit my market. I bit the bullet early on and decided to mount my sidecars to any motorcycle. This could only be done by having me mount every unit.
One of my first customers was a local dealer in town that sold Banelli motorcycles, boats, and in the winter snowmobiles. He wanted a sidecar on one of his bikes. I installed one of the early SL-110's on a 650 cc painted in silver, and black. He wouldn't sell the original sidecar, but would have me build a new one every time he made a sale. I had built around five of six units for these Banelli's and one day a guy pulls up to the shop, and introduces himself. He was the US representative for Banelli Motorcycles of America. Banelli wanted to buy the rights for my sidecar. They where building a 6 cylinder, and they wanted to mount my sidecars on some of the road bikes, and at the same time have an exclusive. I must say I was offered at that time a substantial amount of money, and it was tempting. I spent some time thinking about it, but in the end I turned them down. I new that I could be building sidecars right on into the future, and I did.
You never know where life's going to take you. In 2008 I was asked to develop the body styling for the Victory Crossbow Trike. We all love sidecars, but lets face it there dead. Trikes are in. If that wasn't the case one of the most successful sidecar company's on the West coast wouldn't have started building trikes. I was asked about trikes for over thirty years, and wouldn't even respond. Who would ever think that I would end up designing, and sculpturing one of the most prestige's trikes on the market today. You just never know where life will take you. I guess timing, and opportunity are everything.
Thanks for reading. Johnny Sweet jsweet450.yahoo.com
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bill_powell
Posted 5/27/2011 7:48 PM (#58104 - in reply to #58078)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day


Johnny Sweet - 5/25/2011 4:21 PM
...I'm an old Special Forces soldier...



I'm just an old Grunt; good to 'meet ya.

Where are you located? I'm in the Fort Campbell area; I decided to keep near to my old 'home' ground, if you know what I mean.
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Johnny Sweet
Posted 5/27/2011 8:03 PM (#58105 - in reply to #57452)
Subject: Re: New Member who built 450 sidecars back in the day



Veteran

Posts: 164
1002525
Location: In South Carolina but grew up in Massachusetts.
Ya I know. At one time 1st 327. was 5th group 66-67 before that.
Let them try and figure that one out.
Later, Johnny Sweet
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