Well, what can I say; my last post was September last year, so first of all I owe everybody who is good enough to look in occasionally to see if there are any updates an apology. There are reasons for the lack of broadcasts but they probably boil down to excuses really so I may as well just get on with it and say no more…
It’s been a very busy few months; (see, excuses already!). Before Christmas I went up to Scotland to film a pilot for a prospective classic motor cycle based TV show with my former boss at Motolux Indian, Eugene Reynolds who was (and still is) front man of punk band The Rezillos. It was an entertaining few days, although riding an Indian Scout around a twisty circuit with occasional kerb to kerb patches of sheet ice tested my ability to look calm and in control on camera, especially since it’s probably ten years since I last rode one of the foot clutch, left throttle vee twins. As it happened my only real lock to lock screamer came when I was heading back to the car park after filming and it was worrying how quickly I completely forgot where all the controls were, grabbing for things that simply weren’t there.
Anyway there’s many a slip twixt filming and broadcast so don’t expect to see my ugly face grinning out of the telly just yet (if at all) but it was an interesting experience all the same.
My return home was in a van filled with Sunbeams belonging to my mate Raymond from Edinburgh, which I optimistically thought I could sort out speedily. Regular CB readers may have read that it wasn’t quite so simple; in fact it was only this last weekend that the 1931 Model 9 project bike went back to its owner via Stafford show.
Here’s Raymond, with the bike on the Sunbeam MCC stand, trying not to think what it’s all cost so far…
While on the stand I was delighted to see my mate Andy Marks’ latest: a lovely CS1 Norton. The previous owner offered the bike to Andy for an affordable sum because he wanted it a) to go to someone young and b) to someone who would actually build it.
Andy only picked up the bike around the time of last year’s West Kent Run and has already got it together. He took it straight round to the former owner who was pleased to see it had gone to the right person. As part of the job, Andy organised making up the peculiar double barrelled silencer and now offers these for sale, he can be contacted at themagnetoguys.co.uk
Andy has decided to leave this bike in its present semi-unrestored state, like my Inter it looks like the tank has been repainted in the past but the rest is original paint; Andy also has previously restored an International, that I tested in the magazine a while back, so now he has the choice of a shiny or scruffy cammy Norton – not bad for a young fella, well done Andy!
I love the rider’s eye view from a CS1; that’s one moody motor cycle!
What else this year? There were a couple of unusual specials, this BSA with a cammy Velo engine caught Raymond’s eye in the autojumble, it looked well and as he pointed out would cost much less than buying an actual K model Velocette. I guess twin ports make this a KTP motor.
Then there was another M20 based special, this time military bike, allegedly abandoned on the retreat to Dunkirk and locally fitted with a JAP engine from a 1929 Terrot.
A tidy special with a nice history and good to see we are getting away from a time when in period specials like this would be automatically broken up to build yet another standard bike.
Now, when I was seventeen I desperately wanted a BSA C15…
A note on the seat of this one confirmed it was for sale (as opposed to awaiting collection by environmental health, presumably) but there was no price. Joking apart it probably got more attention than all the concours bikes put together but does that necessarily make it valuable?
The seller of this late T120V Bonneville must have thought so, unregistered and with just 182 miles on the clock it was also pretty weathered but carried a price tag of ’10k’ or near offer.
Now, I don’t know about this. I can see the appeal of a low mileage/unregistered bike to a collector and I’m always one for an un-restored machine but I’m just not sure the two fit together to create value; I mean, doesn’t a collector who’s into new old bikes want them to look new? I mean yes, as I said, few of us can resist looking at scruffy bikes but then you could say the same about a squashed hedgehog; it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to own it. I didn’t see if either bike sold in the end.
But then prices all seem a bit hard to follow, there was a late 40s Douglas T35 project in the jumble for £1500 (sold) which seemed a good price compared to this Vincent Comet, it looked a nice bike but is anyone really paying £20,000 for a Stevenage single nowadays? I don’t like the ‘half a Vincent’ remark but in reality at least the twin is not quite like any other bike, the Comet isn’t so different from any other Brit singles of the day.
And what about this C90E Cub – actually it’s not a C90 E as they had chrome indicators, neatly tucked in next to the headlight. From the C90G onward Euro regulations specified a certain distance between headlight and indicators – presumably so the indicators were more visible – and Honda had to use these crappy extension brackets, while the indicators became plain black…
But fascinating though all that is, I remember selling these new – in fact, if this one is 1996 that’s actually after I had left the Honda trade; why, it’s only yesterday – how can these be classics?!
Yes I know, I know but I think this is interesting. I fully appreciate why the Honda Cub deserves to be a classic but from memory, these square headlight Euro-Cubs came along (1985?) when popularity of the step-thru was already in decline, surely it’s the round headlight 50/70/90 that’s the real deal; aren’t we talking the difference between an FS1E and an RD50?
Perhaps, but then there must’ve been people who said ‘the only classic Bantam is the D1’ which I wouldn’t agree with.
I guess it’s an age thing; having been around classics for all my adult life it’s hard to accept that bikes I remember new are now ‘classics’ to some and there’s something else; I have noticed over the years that while I like my old bikes unrestored, I actually prefer to see Japanese bikes of the 70s/80s looking like new. This I have decided has to be because they are ‘of my time’. Old British bikes were always just that to me: old, and that’s why I liked them to look that way. With Jap bikes, I want to go back to my teens and see then as I remember them then. So perhaps that 182 mile Bonneville has less appeal to me than the C15 because it’s not ‘proper’ for the Bonnie to be rusty, I had one that was just three years old. It’s all very strange…
Anyway you can rely on Hodaka’s wacky model names to take your mind off the passage of time – they never go out of fashion
There was a good selection in the off road hall, we’re missing only the Combat Wombat but you can’t have everything can you?
And while in that hall, here’s another of my favourites – this one’s a classic because it’s a bit before my time, riding if not breathing anyway…
I always think there’s something very un-Honda about the slap it all over paint of the Red Rocket – brutal bike, brutal cosmetics.
A final blast from the past was seeing my old 1937 Fanny B Seagull on display at the show. Here it is, all restored, with owner Paul Rogerson.
I mentioned having seen the bike in the Banbury autojumble a couple of years ago. Talking about getting older, this bike is a bit of a landmark for me because I first saw it painted all colours like a circus clown’s bike, on a stall at the very first autojumble I ever went to with my dad in 1980. For years I wondered what the unidentified bike actually was until it surfaced again in 1990 and, well, I had to buy it. But I never got anywhere with it and sold it again a few years later. It was great to see it all polished up although Paul confessed he only got it finished the night before and hasn’t even tried to start it yet!
Anyway, that’s that over for another year, (the show, not my blog posts – wiseguys!) well until October’s Mechanics Show anyway. It’s good to be back and I’ll hopefully see you soon.