Homegrown: Teenager’s snowmobile-powered cyclecar

Courtesy Deacon Fancher

Welcome to Homegrown—a limited series about homebuilt cars and the ingenuity of their visionary creators. Know a car and builder that might fit the bill? Send us an email to tips@hagerty.com with the subject line HOMEGROWN. Read about more Homegrown creations here. —Ed.

The concoctions we cover in our Homegrown feature series are usually the products of simmering adulthood creativity, constructed by individuals with superfluous time and money on their hands. But, as the cliché goes, for every rule there is an exception: The “car” depicted here began as 14-year-old Deacon Fancher’s sketches. It subsequently took shape over five years of effort between Fancher and his grandpa, Bill Spadafora, aka Popops.

19 Year Old Teenager Cyclecar plan drawings
Courtesy Deacon Fancher
19 Year Old Teenager Cyclecar CAD
Courtesy Deacon Fancher

Deacon, now 19, is a sophomore at Oakland University in Auburn Hills, Michigan, enrolled in journalism and film studies. He not only dreams about constructing cars, he hopes to someday write about them. (Please don’t hold that against him.) His other fantasy is to add bodywork, lighting, and the equipment that will make his car eligible for plates and street driving.

The term that best fits Deacon’s vehicle is cyclecar, reflecting that it is a motorcycle/car tweener with open wheels. The cyclecar’s brief moment of glory occurred in the 1910s and early ‘20s before the versatile Ford Model T booted them in automotive history’s ditch.

Deacon explains, “To get my project rolling, I bolted an 8.5-horsepower Honda single-cylinder engine and CVT from a snowmobile in the back of a steel-tubing spaceframe bent and welded by Popops in his garage. Grandpa is retired from an engineering career at GM, Bosch, Dana, and BAE in the Detroit area so he brings the expertise I lack to this project.

“Our wheelbase is 86 inches, track widths are 49 inches, overall length is about 11 feet. While the original idea was seating for two, there’s not going to be room for a passenger once I add a shifter and the necessary control pedals.

“Various chassis parts including the rack-and-pinion steering gear, brakes, and wheel hubs came from a Yamaha Rhino 700 side-by-side utility vehicle. Our control arm suspension system is homemade from steel tubing. Here, grandpa used Suspension Analyzer on screen to refine the geometry. The Factory Spec spring-shock units were purchased new via Amazon.

19 Year Old Teenager Cyclecar tube frame
Courtesy Deacon Fancher
19 Year Old Teenager Cyclecar horizontal
Courtesy Deacon Fancher

“I admire pre-war cars so we selected Ford Model A wire wheels fitted with Universal 19-inch bias-ply tires. Popops machined the adapters necessary to bolt these wheels to our Yamaha hubs. So far, our investment is about $2800 just for parts. My car runs, drives, and draws smiles wherever we take it. I belong to Oakland U’s Golden Grizzlies Formula SAE racing team so there is ample advice concerning what to do next.


“A 95-horsepower 1100-cc four-cylinder engine and five-speed transmission from a Yamaha Maxim XJ motorcycle are already in hand to add speed. My car’s curb weight is below 1000 pounds so excellent acceleration and decent cornering are assured.

“We’re just starting to think about bodywork. Naturally my SAE team members suggest using molded carbon-fiber panels which would require lots of learning on my part. More realistic options are fiberglass, aluminum, and canvas.

19 Year Old Teenager Cyclecar side
Courtesy Deacon Fancher

“The current John Deere bucket seat will definitely be replaced by something with a lower hip position to drop the top of my head well below the current 4-foot-tall upper frame loop.

“I feel very lucky on two counts—my family totally supports this fantasy and working elbow-to-elbow with Popops has been amazing fun. Every break I get from school gives us the chance to advance our project another step.”

While it hasn’t been Hagerty’s habit to cover Homegrown builds in progress, with installment reports, that’s precisely what we’re up to here. We’re not only anxious to see Deacon’s car finished, we’re hoping to be near the head of the line for a test drive.




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    I’m always tickled to see a young person that dives into this sort of thing – dreams a dream, draws it up, and then creates it for real. Deacon is sure a lucky kid to have Popops around, too. Both are inspirational! 👍

    That is super cool. The carbon fiber comment reminded of when one of my co-workers many years ago was making carbon fiber panels for his car in his garage. I believe it was the FBI that showed up one day to see what he was up to. He didn’t realize that many of the chemicals he ordered were also used in certain explosives.

    I’ve been saying for years if you can cut and join steel you can bring anything you can imagine into reality. Accurately bending and notching tubing is almost like cheating!

    Canvas!! Cheaper and lighter than carbon fiber, still keeps dirt and wind out. Sort of like the Czech Velorex three wheeler, or a WWI airplane…

    What a COOL little car/project! I bet it wouldn’t take much rearranging to expand it to a 2 place car. Double the fun! Grampa could ride along then too!

    Man, thanks for advocating for us Grandpas, Greg! I have been giving grandkids rides (on motorbikes, tractors, go-karts, in pick-ups, daily drivers, and my classic) since each was born, hoping that one day, when I can’t drive anymore and they can, I’ll be offered a ride in return! I’ll bet Popops would love this thing to be a 2-seater.

    It’s not snowmobile powered nor will it be after the engine swap.
    It’s not a snowmobile torque converter, although, yes, snowmobiles have TC’s.
    A teen didn’t build it; obviously gramps had as much if not more to do with realizing this thing than the boy.
    Is it really so hard to tell the truth?

    🤓☝️ “It’s not a snowmobile torque converter” it doesn’t say anything about a torque converter. Is it really so hard to tell the truth?

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