Kenna Sidecar History

New information and a picture of the very first Kenna Sidecar made.

The little girl on the left is Kenna, the little girl the sidecar is named after. On the right is Ronald R. The owner of the Kenna Sidecar company at that time.

Below is the Kenna Sidecar history as told by Ronald R. starting in the 1970's.


I was just reading your history of the Kenna Sidecar and thought you may like to know more about its earlier years.  It's history is very interesting and actually two generations older than you have written.  Back in the 70's, at the time of the Arab oil embargo, I was visiting a fiberglass production shop and noticed a very sleek fiberglass sidecar body sitting in a corner. As an old sidecar enthusiast from England I was interested enough to inquire about it. It turned out that in those days of gasoline shortage the owner of the shop noticed a motorcycle-sidecar outfit being ridden past his shop each day.  Always thinking of business, the thought entered his head that this must be economical on gas and if he could produce fiberglass sidecar bodies there must be somebody out there that could design and manufacture a chassis and sell a lot of them. He talked this over with the sidecarist and they agreed to design and produce the chassis and body between them. The mold was produced but the chassis production was not a success and the partnership broke up. That's when I came along and bought the mold with the agreement that I could order bodies, as and when I needed them at a fixed price. I designed a new chassis which I had fabricated by another company. It had torsion rubber suspension similar to that used on a light trailer specially adapted for my chassis. 


As a car history buff I learned that at the turn of the twentieth century Carl Benz was selling his cars to a dealer in France who added the name of his daughter, Mercedes, to the Benz name and Mercedes Benz was born. I thought that was a good idea and named the sidecar Kenna after my daughter. I still had a full time job at that time and my plan then was to finish upholstering the body, installing the necessary lighting and other equipment, and assembling the complete sidecar in my garage. This all became too much for me, particularly as I had to design new mounts for each model of bike, which took a lot of time. Two of my customers offered to buy the business and that is how it ended up in Merced/Modesto. I next saw on the Internet that it was being made in Washington state.

Here are the first Kenna Sidecars made by Ronald R. being sold at a sidecar rally in California.

The first OEM convertible top on a Kenna Sidecar.This sidecar was exported to Alberta, Canada and mounted to a Kawasaki. It was outfitted with a canopy top which clipped to the front windshield and a rear facing quasi windshield by means of press-studs. I did this on two sidecars. The customer was kind enough to send the photo.


I can tell you quite definitely that the nose was always flat from day one. At the top is a photo of that original body which must have been the first one off the mold. I  met the sidecar rider only once in passing and I don't know his name, but I do know that he and the lead man at the shop designed and built the plug and mold between them. I know they never sold a sidecar. That original body had a tatty orange and white paint job which I had stripped off and repainted a red color to match my Honda CB750.


Little girl Kenna and the sidecar named after her.

Here we are on our way to a sidecar rally in Missouri pulling a tent trailer.

A big thank you to Ronald R. for his history of the beginning of the Kenna Sidecar Company!!!


Above pictures are of the Kenna Sidecar designed by a fiberglass shop man from California. His wife helped him with the design by getting the wind reduced while riding in the sidecar. He also had an oil cooler mounted on the front of the Kenna and vented into the interior. He said he could put his lunch inside on the way to work and it would be warmer when he got there. LOL Barry suspect that was a slight exaggeration but made for a good story and explains the flat nose. The Kenna Sidecar mold was later sold to Ronald R. and he sold it to the two men from Modesto California.

    Those two men made a few sidecars and in 1982 Barry Bates and a friend bought the molds and have owned the rights to the Kenna Sidecar ever since. Barry was fortunate to meet with the original designer and look through his pictures of the development of the Kenna Sidecar design. The torsion suspension used when they bought the Kenna Sidecar was actually a small version of the
same unit used by Airstream trailers. Barry built a few sidecars in Mission, British Columbia, Canada using the same suspension.

 One "stretch" sidecar version was made adding six inches into the cockpit area for a friend with a Yamaha XS750 to help accommodate his family. Barry's friend still has one of the Kenna Sidecars he built back then on his Suzuki RE5.

Barry Bates then went to work for California Sidecar for a couple years and then helped to found Champion Sidecars (see our Champion Sidecar History Page).

    The Kenna Sidecar was brought out of hibernation when Barry went to work with DMC Sidecars in Washington state and made the "stretched" version of the sidecar permanent by building a new mold at that time. Barry also designed the current swing arm shock suspension on the new sidecar frame at that time. DMC Sidecars has been making the Kenna Sidecars under license ever since.

   A big thank you to Barry Bates for his help with this history of The Kenna Sidecar!!! He has retired from the sidecar business.


These pictures are of a Kenna Sidecar from the early 1980's and use a torsion arm suspension.

This is a later version of the Kenna Sidecar with modern coil over shock swing arm suspension and mag wheel. I talked to the owner at a swap meet in Webster Florida many years ago. He said he rode all the way out to Washington state to get his new Kenna Sidecar installed at the DMC Sidecar factory. He loved his new Kenna Sidecar very much.


Below is the Kenna Sidecar Double Passenger Version. It is the most affordable two passenger sidecar that I know of and very well made, in the USA by DMC Sidecars.

Side view with tonneau cover.

Kenna Double front nose view.

Kenna Double rear taillights view.

Kenna Double Sidecar seat and glove box in the front right side of the picture. It is in the front of the wheel well. On the left is the brass quick connector for the brake line.

Two women passengers in the Kenna Double Sidecar at a sidecar rally. A big thank you to Lonnie Cook for the great pictures!