By Renee Crist, ACM Collections Manager
Higher fuel prices in the years following the 1970’s oil embargos opened the door for new manufacturers offering innovative options for those seeking fuel efficient transportation. The Pulse Autocycle, designed by aircraft designer Jim Bede and built by the Owosso Motor Company from 1984 to 1990, advertised its fuel consumption at 70+ miles per gallon.
The Pulse can be described as an enclosed motorcycle with outrigger wheels attached. It seats two, one in front and one in back. The car came equipped with a 400cc air-cooled Yamaha engine with 6 speeds and chain drive. It rides on a 120″ wheel base, has a total length of 192″ and weighs approximately 1000 pounds. The car has automobile-like steering, with clutch, brakes, and gas pedal on the floor just like a car. However, the gear shift, located on the right arm rest, shifts sequentially the same as a motorcycle.
The Pulse was also referred to as a “GCRV”, or Ground Cruising Recreational Vehicle. The term describes a vehicle that has the performance and acceleration of a motorcycle engineered into a comfortable weatherproof vehicle with many of the attributes of an automobile. It rides on two automotive type wheels and tires with outriggers, each fitted with a small 8″ diameter wheel, and because only one wheel makes contact with the ground at a time, the design met United States federal regulations to be licensed and operated as a motorcycle. To operate the Pulse on the road, most states in the USA required the driver have a motorcycle endorsement on their regular driver’s license.
The first 21 manufactured by Owasso were called “Litestars”. Owosso Motor Car Company made 101 cars in 1986 and records obtained from the Lightstar/Owasso Registry indicate that #223 was manufactured in April of 1986 and titled to an owner in Pennsylvania in July of that year. Only 44 were ordered from the factory painted yellow.
There was a total of 325 Pulses built by the Owosso Motor Car Company. America’s Car Museum’s Owasso Pulse is a complete unrestored original example that is frequently an object for study by engineering and design students.