Welcome to Webster City, Iowa–Doodle Bug capital of the world and the birthplace of the famous motor scooter which has turned many heads in it’s 70 plus years of existence. During World War II automobiles were, in many cases, not being produced in the numbers that were experienced in prewar times. To help provide a cheap mode of transportation Beam Mfg. decided to design and build a small inexpensive motor scooter powered by a 1 1/2 hp gas engine that would originally sell for the staggering sum of $69.95. The “Little Red Bug” was sold by Gambles stores under the name of Hiawatha, and Western Auto Stores as either Western Flyer or Wheel Goods. The scooters were built in productions of 10,000 each and a total of 40,000 were built between 1946 and 1948. Most had a Briggs & Stratton 1 1/2 hp gas engine but a limited number of the Doodlebugs were equipped with a Clinton engine of the same rating. It is estimated that possibly no more than a few hundred of these scooters still exist, and naturally the Clinton powered unit is the rarest.
In an effort to perpetuate the legacy of the Doodle Bug, two scooter enthusiasts, Vern Ratcliff of Webster City, IA and William Moore of Mason City, IA organized the Doodle Bug Club of America and through their hard work and dedication there is a reunion each year during the 2nd weekend after Labor Day. The first reunion was held over 30 years ago and the club continues to grow in membership. At this time there are members from 36 states. The shows are held at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds in Webster City and people come from all over the nation including Alaska, New York and California to show their scooters as well as ride around the city on both planned and unplanned routes. Our members include people from all walks of life including mechanics, doctors, retired airline pilots,farmers and every profession you can imagine. The one thing all members have in common is that they enjoy the little motor scooter and want to keep the memory alive. On this website we have factory production information, names of members who have parts and manuals available, and other club information you may find of interest. If you are restoring a Doodle Bug to original factory specs, you will find the production information page of particular interest (courtesy of Don Jackson,Yesterday’s Rides Metalworks).
Please Contact Us if you have any comments, ideas, photos, or anything you would like to share.
To join our club fill out the Membership Application shown below.