Duffy Livingstone’s Mole

Columns: Legendary kart
Following the demise of Go Kart Manufacturing Incorporated in 1963 company principal Duffy Livingstone, considered by many to be the father of karting, went back to earning a living at his former business of GP Mufflers. (Text Frank Weir - Photos Frank Weir and Gary Moline)

Duffy nevertheless, still dabbled with karts and during early 1966 he came up with the Flexible Flyer frame which was his idea on a sidewinder kart. The Flexible Flyer featured a rear portion of the frame including the engine mount that attached to the main frame using rubber bushes and steel fasteners.
Towards the end of the sixties, enduro racing featuring lay-down karts and Formula Kart Experimental machines became popular in the USA. Duffy once again sharpened his pencil and designed an attractive FKE machine that was marketed as the Glove. The Glove was manufactured and sold through Horstman Manufacturing. Only the fibreglass bodywork was sold plus metal brackets to enable the bodywork to be attached to an existing kart. Initially the Glove was made for a kart that had the engine mounted behind the seat but was quickly modified to accommodate engines mounted sidewinder fashion and was then known as the Glove II. The specifications for the Glove listed the body length as 86½'', width 35'', height 19½'', wheelbase 48''; the fibreglass shell weighed 25 lbs. 

The Glove II subsequently underwent further design changes and became the Mole I. Not surprisingly the Mole had similar specifications to the Glove except the height was reduced to 16'' and the shell weight increased to 30 lbs.
By early 1969 the Mole II appeared. It was very much the same as the Mole I but featured a redesign of the front nose which now swept all the way down close to ground level. This new version of the Mole, first time out in Duffy’s hands, won the Willow Springs Enduro held June 14 – 15, 1969 at Rosamond, California. 

Decades later a similar FKE Mole II credited as being from Duffy’s 'stable' went on permanent display at the National Hot Rod Museum in Pomona, California. The kart which was owned by Gary Moline was in the museum for years; certainly for a decade or more. That particular Mole recently appeared on the Bring-A-Trailer (BAT) Auction site where it did not meet its reserve only realizing a top bid of $10,500. It should be noted that in the past a mass produced fully restored dual engine kart sold for $38,000 on BAT!
The Duffy Livingstone FKE Mole in the Pomona museum was powered by an air-cooled B-Bomb (Komet 135cc) equipped with dual Tillotson carburettors, a centrifugal clutch and a can muffler. The B-Bomb motor was rated at 23 BHP at 10,500 RPM. That particular Livingstone FKE was credited with winning the 1971 Road Racing National Championship at Ontario Motor Speedway where it was clocked at 120 MPH on the long straight.  

The fibreglass body on the Mole on display at Pomona and offered for sale on BAT was finished in a patriotic stars and stripes livery and fastened to a specifically fabricated tubular steel frame made from 1¼'' diameter 4130 chrome moly tubing. Four Airheart hydraulic brakes, dual callipers on the rear axle and individual brake callipers on the front wheels took care of the stopping duties. Dual master cylinders were used to pump the brake fluid. The front axle of the kart featured adjustable caster and camber.

A neat plastic windscreen, a rear view mirror, a side mounted aluminium fuel tank capable of carrying an hour’s fuel, air intake scoops, a four point seat harness, seating designed to support the driver’s shoulders fitted with plush upholstery, a steering tiller rather than a wheel plus a rev counter and a temperature gauge completed the chassis that ran on 6 inch diameter magnesium pin-striped red and blue Go Power wheels fitted with Goodyear tyres on the front and Cheng Shins on the rears.
Since the BAT reserve was not realized perhaps the Mole will get to reside at the National Hot Rod Museum in Pomona, California, for a while longer; I for one would miss seeing the Mole on display at the museum.

Created by: cggiuliano - 08/05/24

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