Eight months jail for dangerous riding
The rozzers get off Scot-free for dangerous policing
Did you hear the one about the biker who's just been jailed for eight months for dangerous riding on the M6? No? Well his name is Pawel Zietowski, he's from Harlow, Essex, and he was followed for 16 minutes (count 'em) by a couple of rozzers from Staffordshire Police. It happened on 3rd June this year.
The cops were in an unmarked Audi. Zietowski was riding a Yamaha sportsbike, and he was doing the usual moronic stuff such as popping wheelies, standing up on the pegs and enjoying the view, riding with his hands off the 'bars and removing his backpack, finding a camera and taking selfies.
Pretty much all of this was beyond the 70mph motorway limit, and some of it was well over 100mph. When the judge got to hear the tale of woe, he promptly gave Zietowski eight months in pokey and banned him from riding for 28 months.
Riders like that light our fuses too (partly because they demonstrate skills of which we ain't possessed). But the real story here is the one about the coppers who followed Zietowski for 16 minutes just to make sure they'd got sufficient evidence to throw a very large book at him.
And that means that the coppers forgot the first rule of policing which is to prevent crime, not to mosey around with a video camera and a note book watching some fool on a Yamaha dig the hole deeper and deeper. After the first wheelie, the cops could/should have jerked Zietowski's lead and gave him a stiff talking to at the roadside (and maybe a clout round the ear in the bushes). But instead, they also drove along at way beyond the speed limit and allowed Zietowski's "dangerous antics" to continue.
▲ If you want to know where your policing dollar is going, ask the Staffordshire Constabulary. They might not entrap you, but they're happy to give you plenty of rope before they jerk it. Check the badge design...
So who are the real morons here? Hint: It's the Staffordshire cops. These are the same misguided characters who routinely hurtle along through busy streets chasing miscreants not only for serious offences, but also for the trivial stuff too. These are the misguided characters who spend hours, days, weeks surveilling criminal gangs and ignoring their minor offences in readiness for the "big bust" and the chance of promotion. These are the misguided characters who persistently persecute and prosecute the populace for possession of a little cannabis (or similar mild recreational substances) whilst more serious issues are overlooked.
Don't misunderstand us. Aside from coffee and alcohol, we haven't got any interest in other drugs. We dislike criminal gangs as much as the next guys. And up to a point (and that's a very sharp point), we think the cops should pursue offenders or suspects. Trouble is, the twats in the M6 Audi evidently didn't know when to apply a little preventative policing and clip Zietowski's wheels. Or maybe they just didn't care.
▲ Now is this motorcycle control? Or lack of control. The answer is that is largely depends on which side of the handlebars you are. Publicly, we think this guy was pretty stupid to do this on a public road. Privately, we still think he's pretty stupid. But 28-months? Strewth.
Inspector Sion Hathway, from Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG), has been quoted as saying: "Such dangerous riding will not be tolerated on our roads. Zietowski showed a blatant disregard for the rules, and for fellow motorists. His antics could have easily resulted in tragedy."
And there's another angle here. As much as guys like Zietowski make us groan, maybe he wasn't so dangerous after all. The cops followed him for 16 minutes, and from what we've seen of the video footage, he looked pretty much in control at all times.
Put another way, you have to contextualise this kind of stuff. Imagine two vehicles on the M6. One vehicle is a top flight BMW saloon. ABS. Traction control. Airbags everywhere. Seat belts. Head rests. Padded dash. State-of-the-art crumple zone. And four very fat wheels. The other is a modern sports bike. Or cruiser. Or adventure bike. Or scooter. ABS and traction control. But no airbags. No state-of-art crumple zone (except the rider). And two relatively skinny wheels.
Now let's talk about dangerous.
Ultimately, it sounds more like vindictiveness on the part of the state. Zietowski was having fun (always suspect in the eyes of the law). He was showing off (and that usually irritates a significant section of the population). And he was clearly breaking the rules (and the coppers and magistrates are generally inclined to come down hard on rule breakers, no matter how dozy those rules happen to be).
Bottom line? Eight months sounds very heavy-handed (especially when the public purse has to pick up the prison tab). And a 28 month ban? That sounds a little harsh too. Here at Sump, it looks more like a suspended three month sentence (at most), and a year off the road.
But of course, we weren't there at the trial. It's always worth keeping that in mind.
Kickback Show reminder
Sunday 24th September 2017
Lorne Cheetham's next groovy motorcycle show (and we think the word "groovy" is entirely appropriate) will happen at Cheltenham Racecourse on Sunday 24th September 2017. That's in four days. This event, which builds upon the success of the established series of Kickback Shows, goes from strength to strength and is for many the perfect antidote to the depressingly shrinking days and the gloomy lengthening nights.
But it's not all about big numbers, note. This show is about the dedicated few who understand the subtleties and nuances of custom motorcycle engineering, and that's exactly how Lorne Cheetham wants it to stay.
The doors open at 11am. The doors close at 5.30pm. That gives you six-point-five hours to microscopically study the 100 or so customs, specials and classics on display—with a sufficient margin to stuff your face, buy some essential merchandise, talk the talk, make new contacts and press some greasy flesh before heading home with a satisfied soul and a head full of ideas.
All ticket holders get a free poster. Car parking is free. And kids under 16 can enter gratis. But the tickets ain't free. For one of those you'll pay the very fair price of £8.50 (and it really is a fair price when you consider the organisation that's involved). Or you can pay ten quid on the door.
Supporters of the show include:
Allstyles Motorcycle Insurance
Central Wheel Components
The full address of the venue is: Cheltenham Racecourse, Evesham Rd, Cheltenham GL50 4SH.
We've visited the inaugural Kickback Show and we were impressed. Chances are we'll be in the neighbourhood of Cheltenham this weekend, and if we do, we'll be sure to drop by.
See you there perchance.
▲ Nastassja Kinski and Harry Dean Stanton in Paris, Texas. He was often overshadowed on screen, but developed a loyal fan-base that loved his quirky characters and their inverted coolness. He's a minor movie legend.
Star of Paris, Texas is dead
He was working into his nineties
US actor Harry Dean Stanton has died aged 91. Perhaps best remembered for the cult indie movie Paris Texas (1984), he was also noted for appearances in the road movie Two Lane Blacktop (1971), the dystopian sci-fi movie Escape From New York (1981), and more recently in the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick The Last Stand (2013).
Lean and edgy looking, Harry Dean Stanton was at his best playing lost, amoral and socially marginalised characters (creeps, beatniks, gang members and suchlike). He was born in Kentucky, saw military service during WW2, and had once considered music or journalism as a suitable career path befitting his peculiar talents. But acting was also high on his personal agenda, and following some TV work in the early 1950s, he took a role (credited as Dean Stanton) in the western movie, The Tomahawk Trail (1957) starring Chuck Connors.
▲ Warren Oates was really the star of Two Lane Blacktop, a nihilistic road movie featuring singer James Taylor and drummer Dennis (Beach Boy) Wilson. But Harry Dean Stanton typically breezed in and out of the narrative, this time playing a homosexual hitch-hiker. We mention this movie because it always warrants a mention. Highly recommended.
Later, Harry Dean Stanton appeared in How the West Was Won (1962), The Man From the Diner's Club (1963), and enjoyed more TV in westerns such as Bonanza, Rawhide and The Rifleman.
Other movie credits include:
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Kelly's Heroes (1970)
Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid (1973)
The Godfather Part II (1974)
The Missouri Breaks (1976)
Repo Man (1984)
Red Dawn (1984)
Wild at Heart (1990)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
The Green Mile (1999)
The Avengers (2012)
But it's fair to say that later in his career, Harry Dean Stanton was largely famous simply for being Harry Dean Stanton rather than for any specific acting plaudits. Indeed, he was frequently the on-screen face that audiences vaguely recognised, but were unable to put a name to (until the titles rolled past on the screen).
However, he enjoyed a secondary—albeit less constant—career as an occasional singer/guitarist and worked with the likes of Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Art Garfunkel and Ry Cooder.
Of all his roles, it will be the part of Travis in Wim Wender's Paris Texas that he'll be remembered for—a movie that (arguably) runs out of steam half way through and is mostly enjoyed for the haunting Ry Cooder musical score.
Harry Dean Stanton, however, didn't run out of steam quite so quickly. He was still working until age 90 when time and tears caught up with him. His last film was Lucky (2017); a tale about a 90-year old atheist on a spiritual journey (with more than the odd echo of Paris, Texas).
Despite being "romantically" linked to numerous Hollywood actresses and personalities, Harry Dean Stanton never married and has no children to his credit.
The world's first driving simulator?
Sotheby's is anticipating $6,000 - $8,000
Here's something unusual we spotted tonight (17th Sept 2017) whilst trawling the classic bike and classic car auction schedules, and we thought we'd pass it on as ... well, as an amusing curio. That's all. No big deal.
Apparently, it's an educational tool from the thirties. It hails from Chicago, and it claims to be the first of its kind in the world. It was created for students at Lane Technical High school.
The driving positions are fitted with a steering wheel, clutch pedal, brake pedal and accelerator/gas pedals. There's no mention of a horn button, indicators/trafficators and clearly there are no mirrors. So it's driving at its most basic.
Driving students sit in the respective positions, and the teacher/educator switches on a film projector—presumably showing the view of the road ahead as witnessed from the perspective of the driving seat. The rest is down to imagination.
What we like (aside from the obvious appeal of all that time-worn wood and ancient riveted iron) is the quaintness and the innocent charm. For us, there's never enough of that in the world. But we don't understand why the seats are arranged tandem fashion—unless it's intended to inculcate in the minds of the students the notion of following the car ahead and/or queuing in traffic. Or maybe it's got something to do with managing back seat drivers.
Either way, if we owned a trendy loft apartment, and if we already had a British K2 telephone box in the corner, a sofa made from the boot (trunk) of a '57 Chevy, a Dalek from the Dr Who TV series, and maybe one of those funky hanging fibreglass chairs from the 1960s, we'd probably buy this driving bench and try and have some fun with it whilst watching the Dukes of Hazzard or something.
But at Sump, we live in more modest accommodation, so we'll pass up this antique opportunity. However, if you're interested and live a more trendy lifestyle, the auctioneers are Sotheby's.
The auction will be held at The Hershey Lodge, 325 University Drive, Hershey, Pennsylvania 17033, USA. The date is 5th and 6th October 2017. The estimate is $6,000 - $8,000.
Paul Sample's illustrious biking hero in one plush book
Prices from £85 to £250
We have to declare an interest here. Or, rather, a disinterest. That's because we hate Ogri and have never had much time for him or his madcap adventures. But then, we hate a lot of things, and most of the world doesn't seem to care much. It's a problem.
But don't misunderstand us. Yorkshireman Paul Sample's biker-famous Ogri cartoons are a great creation. They were a huge success, and they entertained tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists both at home and abroad. It's simply that we don't count ourselves among that number. That's all.
However, the real story here is that you can now buy The Complete Compendium of Ogri Strip Cartoons 1972 - 2013 and enjoy his antics all over again.
The humour is unarguable. The artwork throughout is fantastic. There are wonderful flashes of human insight everywhere. And as a biking character, Ogri is second to none. That said, we still see all this with the same kind of dispassionate interest that we reserve for the Financial Times.
Important stuff, but we're not subscribers.
In total, 443 Ogri cartoons were published. Bike Magazine had most of 'em and ran the strip between 1972 and the end of 2008 (and Ogri was a major draw to Bike Magazine, no pun intended). Then Back Street Heroes carried the fun until 2013 when Paul Sample parked his pen and contented himself with other matters.
Why did the strip end? We don't know. But we've heard various explanations, all of which went in one era and out the other. Regardless, the amount of creative effort that went into producing Ogri is staggering, and that no doubt played a part. If cartoonist Paul Sample had nothing else to his credit, it would still be a major achievement. But he's also illustrated numerous paperback books, posters and advertising literature.
The compendium has reproduced those 443 strips and has included a couple more that were never published. The covers of the book will be foil-blocked in antique gold. The main image shows Ogri leaping off a bridge in one of his time-honoured poses. And if it makes a difference, the Queen's own bookbinder, Blissett's, are throwing this package together.
Throwing? Well actually, it looks like this is going to be a high-quality collectors item which will be available in three binding options:
Bound in black buckram book cloth, £85.
Bound in black buckram book cloth, presented in a hand-made slipcase and numbered from 101 upwards, selling for £125.
A limited edition of 100 copies, bound in Wildman and Bugby black leather, individually signed and doodled by Paul, and presented in the slipcase. £250.
A paperback version is planned for release in 2018. We haven't seen a copy, and it would be wasted on us anyway. But if you were an Ogri fan back in the 70s, 80s or 90s—or even beyond—you're exactly who this compendium was aimed at. It's available from 29th September 2017.
You live only once, but you can laugh million of times. And this book, we're sure, will give you a few more to add to your allocation.
Rolling MOT exemption plan for forty year old motor vehicles
"Road tax" will be free for pre-1978 cars and bikes
The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has published plans to scrap the MOT requirement for almost all motor vehicles over 40 years old. The new rule will kick-in on 20th May 2018, and it will be a rolling rule—meaning that vehicles built before 1978 will be exempt, but come 2019, that will switch to vehicles built before 1979. And so on.
Additionally, by May next year the road fund licence (road tax) will become duty free for forty-somethings. And that will also be rolling.
▲ When the Leader of the Pack throws us a bone, it would be churlish not to be grateful. But aside from the odd comment in the House regarding scooter jacking in the capital, it's not clear if Queen Theresa knows what a motorcycle is. Still, a vote is a vote, and the classic world is significant.
Why the change? Ostensibly because classic vehicles are under-represented in accident statistics and MOT failure rates. But underlying that, cynics among us can assume that Theresa May's (weak) Conservative government is looking to make a few friends in anticipation of some very choppy Brexit waters ahead.
Or maybe that's a little unfair. The government has for some time been trying to save a cash and simplify motoring life, so we'll be generous and will leave it right there.
It's reckoned that 197,000 vehicles on UK roads are currently MOT exempt. By 20th May 2018, that will increase to an estimated 293,000. We don't know whose figures these are, incidentally (presumably the DfT's). And take note that vehicles which have been substantially modified will still be required to suffer an MOT test after May next year—but it's not clear if that will now include pre-1960 vehicles, all of which are currently MOT exempt. And it's not clear what "substantially modified" really means. We'll look for clarification on these points and will update this story when possible.
One final thing. Owners of exempt vehicles will still be able to have their wheels MOT checked on request. But what happens if such a vehicle fails?
Our guess is that, for practical purposes, there will be no sanction. You fail, you ride or drive away. But owners of all motor vehicles are reminded by the Department for Transport (and UK insurance firms) that vehicles must still be maintained and kept fit for the road.
Nice weather today, innit?
Demo a Trumpet. Buy it. Get a "five hundred quid" sweetener
2nd October 2017 is the cut off date
Okay, here's the pitch. Go to your local Triumph dealer. Test ride any of the (immediately) above motorcycles between the 16th and 23rd September 2017. Next, buy the demo bike and have it registered before 2nd October 2017, and Triumph will give you £500 which you can spend on accessories, clothing, insurance or finance packages (all Triumph branded, please).
These are the models that the offer applies to:
Speed Triple S/R
As far as we know, there are no other hoops through which you need to jump. Just ride the bike and buy it either with cash, or through your choice of finance packages—such as Triumph's own.
We should make it clear that this offer is tied in to handing the money back to Triumph, one way or the other. In other words, you won't be walking out with £500 of your own cash. You buy the bike, and you get the accessories, clothing, insurance or finance support.
Still not a bad offer. Just be sure you know what's on the table before you sit down to eat.
Campaign to stop the police misusing your custody photograph
A petition has been launched
If you've been arrested by the coppers, had your mugshot taken, and later released without charge or found innocent in court, you might be disturbed to know the coppers have retained your image and may use it for computer "line-up" purposes without consent.
Moreover, the police are able to use your image for biometric facial recognition programs or systems. Put simply, they own your image. Or act as if they do. In fact, back in 2012 the courts declared it illegal for the rozzers to behave in this manner. But as ever, the police are a law unto themselves wherever possible.
Well, Big Brother Watch has launched a campaign called "FaceOff". The idea is to force the government to act, jerk a few leads and have this image retention policy stopped.
Currently, if you were released without charge or found innocent in court, you can apply to the coppers to have your image removed from their database. And in certain circumstances you might be able to have your image removed if you were found guilty. But you have to apply "manually"—which means that your image won't automatically be deleted. You can also apply to have your fingerprints and DNA sample deleted.
It's a serious issue that affects hundreds of thousands of people. It means that one of your neighbours could find himself sitting in front of a computer "helping police with their enquiries", perhaps having witnessed a robbery, and then see your ugly mug flash up on the screen. That neighbour won't know if you're innocent or guilty of a crime. But they'll probably make the assumption that you've been up to no good.
If you're happy with that, and happy that big brother can monitor your progress through the world via high-tech cameras with face recognition software, then do nothing. If not, sign the petition and/or write to your MP. Big Brother Watch has made that easy through their website by creating a draft letter.
Next time you're sat in front of a police camera, remember it's not the birdie you have to watch; it's the government and their agents who have arrested your image and will use it in whatever way they choose.
Spread the word if you will, please.
Details of Mortons' autumn shindig at Stafford
Tickets are £12. Usual programme
You've got about a month to get ready—and when you're of a certain age, one month feels like ten seconds. So start looking for your bike keys now.
The underlying (or is that overarching) story is the Empire's autumn Carol Nash Classic Mechanics Show which will take place this year on the weekend of the 14th - 15th October 2017. The venue is, as usual, the Staffordshire County Showground.
Motorcycle racer Aaron Slight will be at the show. Apparently, he's the best rider never the win the World Superbike. Means nothing to us. But he'll be chatting and pressing flesh and telling tales of derring-do on and (possibly) off the track.
Regardless, Mortons events manager Nick Mowbray is apparently pretty chuffed about it. So we're probably a long way behind this particular curve. Meanwhile, it's reckoned that around 1,000 trade stalls will be at the show along with zillions of people, dozens of bike clubs, Jim Moody's record-breaking factory TT bike, an unspecified number of off-road bikes, a Restoration Theatre courtesy of the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club—and Bonhams will be holding another auction. If this sounds like your kind of fun, you know where to go from here.
Tickets are £12 for adults, £11 for seniors (aren't all Stafford visitors "seniors"), or £3 for under-12s if bought in advance. Parking is free.
Telephone: 01507 529529
Builders of specials and customs glance this way, please
Handy bench tool for brackets and stuff
Here's a handy little gadget that over the years we could have used a hundred times. Or more. It's a multi-purpose vice-mounted metal bender that will handle sheet metal 40mm wide and up to 4mm thick, 10mm solid bar, and pipe of 4, 6, 8 and 10mm OD. And we're talking steel here. Okay?
What would you use it for? Well if you're building bikes, you probably won't need to ask that question. But we'll tell you anyway. This will handle stuff such as custom seat hinges, exhaust brackets, clamps, hooks, stays, oil tank mounts, mudguard supports, chainguard brackets—and a hundred other things. It will enable you to get well-formed and accurate bends rather than the random and unlikely shapes we usually end up with (and then have to hammer back into something we can actually use).
Chronos currently has these on offer at around £72. The item reference number is: 230200. And this is a long established firm that we've got some association with (we've used and tested their products, etc), and we trust 'em to deliver the goods and deal with any problems.
You can talk to this firm for all kinds of engineering equipment from vernier gauges, to drill bits, to cutting tools to ... well, all kinds of stuff that we've got no idea what it's used for. But you engineers will figure it out.
Tel: 01582 471900
Hamstreet motorcycle autojumble reminder
Meet biking adventurer Gordon May and buy his book
The date will be Sunday 17th September 2017. The place is Hamstreet, Romney Marsh, Kent TN26 2JD. The event is Elk Promotions Classic Motorcycle Bikejumble.
Of special interest to many will be the Ride-in-Show feature. There are spot prizes of £25 for (a) the Best Classic (pre-1990) and (b) the Best Post-Classic. Apparently, all you have to do is turn up on the day astride your bike, pay your regular entry fee (£4 adults), and park in the designated red zone. If your numberplate is up, you'll know by 1pm. Then you can collect your money and spend it at one of the bikejumble stalls, etc.
Also on the agenda is the Auction of Motorcycles, Spares and Automobilia. Auction lots are accepted from 10am. The sale starts at noon. There is no entry fee for items, but a 10% commission will be levied against vendors and buyers (actually, just 5% over £100). All sales are strictly cash.
Regular Hamstreet stallholder Gordon May who rode a 350cc Matchless G3L 11,500 miles from the UK to Vietnam will be in attendance. We're advised that his new book entitled Overland to Vietnam has just published.
So if you attend the jumble, you can meet Gordon and buy your signed copy. He also sells a range of goggles, motorcycle clocks and gel-pad seat covers, and he'll be happy to chinwag with all you motorcycle adventurers.
Julie Diplock—long established classic biker and BSA & Velocette aficionado—runs the show. She'll look after you properly. So if you're in the Kent or Sussex area (East or West), it's worth a ride. Actually, it's a nice jaunt down from the Smoke too as we know from personal experience.
Check Sump's classic bike events listing for more.
Telephone: 01797 344277
Mixed bag of results
The National Motorcycle Museum was the venue
The estimate was £20,000 - £23,000. But come the day (2nd September 2017), the (immediately) above 1972 Triumph Hurricane changed hands for just £19,125 at H&H Auctions latest sale.
Nineteen grand plus change still sounds to us like an awful lot of money to pay for an X-75, even though we reported on one that sold last August for a claimed £25,000. That Hurricane was in fact asking £29,999. However, the word is that the buyer, who hailed from Switzerland, got a VAT-free deal, hence the final £25,000 price tag.
Do we believe it? Sort of. It sounds plausible enough, and we've no reason to doubt the vendor. Either way, (asking) prices of other UK Hurricanes quickly appeared to be rising, perhaps encouraged by this sale. So we watched and we waited, and then came the latest H&H auction which looks suspiciously like the power of this Hurricane is fading significantly.
That said, the price quoted is the hammer price. There will be a buyer's premium of 15 percent, plus VAT @ 20% on that premium. That will add another £3,440 to the bill (these auction boys ain't stupid, huh?). Therefore, the price of that X-75 is (by our numbers) actually £22,565.
The deal is looking less sweet now, but it still seems like someone got a bargain with this bike. Or did the aforementioned Swiss guy simply overpay? You tell us. Meanwhile, we ought to remind ourselves that one auction sale doesn't necessarily set a bench mark or indicate a trend. And of course, you have to see the bike up close (and hear it running) before you commit to top dollar. Nevertheless, we thought it was worth commenting on, and we'll be watching X-75 prices a little closer.
If you can get beyond all that, the headline bike at that sale was actually the (immediately) above 1998 1,200cc RTV-Vincent (Lot 70). It's a rare beast (just one of four) and was built by ex-Egli man Terry Prince. The £40,000 - £45,000 estimate was, however, evidently an exhaust pipe dream because no one pulled out a wallet or purse.
Are we surprised? Nope. These more specialised bike interest a lot of people, but the potential buyers are a fickle bunch and are not always where you want them when you're wielding that auction hammer. This bike will probably come around again sooner or later.
Of the 110 motorcycles offered for sale (that number actually includes one c.1920 exercise bike), a total of 66 bikes found buyers. That represents a conversion rate of 72 percent (once again, by our dodgy numbers)—which is lower than the auctioneers would have wanted, but in raw figures it's not bad. There were also 23 automobilia items (prints, engines, boots, etc). But nothing caught our eye, so we've concentrated on the bikes.
The auction took place, by the way, at the National Motorcycle Museum (NMM), Solihull, West Midlands. It's the second time at this venue for H&H which has recently sidelined Donington Park, Derbyshire. The inaugural NMM sale was in June 2017.
Here are some of the other bikes to give you a taste of what happened:
▲ 1935 Excelsior Manxman. Lot 56. The reserve was £15,000 - £16,000. The bike sold for £13,620. It was raced in the 1930s, then saw some hill climbing and sprint action in the 80s and 90s. For the last seven years it's be dry stored. Shame.
▲ 1963 Harley-Davidson Sportster. Lot 31. The reserve was £2,000 - £3,000—which is the price of, say, a fairly well sorted Tiger Cub or a cheeky BSA Bantam, and which shows that H&H has a good sense of humour. We would have expected this bike to find around £4,000 - £5,000. But in fact, it sold for £7,650. Dry stored. Engine spins. "Might require some re-commissioning". Hmm.
▲ 1961 Vespa 150. Lot 21. We know as much about Vespa scooters as H&H apparently knows about 1963 Sportsters. But this fully restored hairdryer, estimated at £2,000 - £2,500, sold for £3,937.50—or was H&H just being shrewd both with this machine and the H-D above? Your guess is as good as ours. Either way, this looks like good value and stylish transport.
▲ Lot 51. 1945 Indian Scout 741. This very cool piece of Yankee iron chugged past its lower estimate of £15,000, picked up speed at the £18,000 top estimate and kept rolling all the way to £21,093.75. So what's the 75 pence all about? Exchange rate issue probably. Or a bit of whimsy.
▲ Lot 35. 1923 Harley-Davidson Model J. Banbury Run eligible and not run since being totally restored, this very pretty 989cc inlet-over-exhaust V-twin was looking at £23,000 - £25,000. But it failed to sell.
London's cops are experimenting with hydrogen
...and a few words on fuel cell technology
It's probably completely unfair (and bordering on irresponsible journalism), but whenever we hear the word "fuel cell", we think of the Hindenburg disaster of May 1937 and feel compelled to mention it.
Fuel cells, after all, are supposed to be the next big thing in automotive technology (and will help save the planet from global hysteria). That's because unlike electric car batteries, the cells, which are pumped tightly with hydrogen gas, can be "recharged" (actually refilled) in a matter of 4- 5 minutes. Apparently, you can even drink the H20 that drips (or clouds) out of the exhaust pipe, and the hydrogen gas can be produced very efficiently via steam reforming, electrolysis, or thermolysis.
Here at Sump, we know very little about how safe fuel cells really are. But even though the cell tank (or tanks) are pressurised to withstand 10,000psi and are built from carbon this and Kevlar that, and even though the experts have taken "ineffective" potshots at the aforementioned tanks with armour piercing rounds, the ghost of that ill-fated German dirigible is nevertheless still hovering overhead.
▲ 11hp and a 75 mile range doesn't sound much. But it's enough to help keep the Met on message, environmentally speaking, and Suzuki has a chance to air its forward thinking togs. Is it the future? And do we care?
The underlying story, meanwhile, is that London's Metropolitan Police is currently trialling 7 Suzuki Burgmans, each fitted with a fuel cell. The long term aim is to upgrade all the patrol cars and paddy-wagons with the same earth-saving technology.
Hydrogen, for the benefit of all you armchair physicists, is the most abundant element in the universe. So far, anyway. It's 16 times lighter than air, and it's reckoned to be considerably less volatile/flammable than petrol—and note that we might be expressing this attribution clumsily, technically speaking). Either way, when a petrol tank leaks, it either drips down your leg or pools beneath a car, and that's not ideal in terms of health and safety.
Hydrogen, on the other hand (chemical symbol "H" for, well, "Hindenburg"), rises very rapidly and will go right up to the stratosphere if it can't find sufficient oxygen atoms with which to combine and return as rain (which is what usually happens). Consequently, a leaking fuel cell is "much safer" than a leaking petrol tank.
So how comes the Hindenburg lit up the New Jersey, USA sky so spectacularly? Well, the hydrogen burned. That's for sure. At least, most of it did. But much of the fire was actually fuelled by diesel oil in the Zeppelin's engines coupled with the lacquer used on the airship's fabric covering. That's what the experts say, anyway (many of whom are now busy trying to flog the world fuel cell technology).
Of the 97 Hindenburg passengers, 35 died. The other 62 lived to tell the tale, and as far as we know none of them (or their descendants) has since bought fuel cell vehicles.
The disaster wasn't the only Zeppelin crash. The Deutschland went down in 1897 (killing two). La République crashed in 1909 (killing four). The Akron exploded in 1912 (killing five). The British NS11 lost 12 in 1919. The British R38 lost 44 in 1921. And the record for the number of civilian passengers killed in airship disasters (all filled with hydrogen, take note) is 48 when the British R101 went down in 1930 (but Germany, we think, holds the record for the actual number of crashes—and the US Navy had its fingers seriously burned whilst experimenting with dirigibles).
And now the Met's got a scooter with a fuel cell. Well, 7 scooters actually.
Chances are that nothing evil will come of it. Science has moved on (even if the Met hasn't). The real problem, of course, is public perception and fear of the technology. But that, we hear, is hugely overshadowed by the fact that hydrogen infrastructure related both to production and delivery is in its infancy and still isn't getting the political and commercial backing it needs to grow and establish itself—meaning that it could be some time before a Hindenburg crashes anywhere near your neighbourhood. And given that fuel cells promise a range that's roughly double that of (current) battery powered electric vehicles, it's easy to see why the new breed of environmentally minded automotive entrepreneurs desperately wants to sell the cell.
But the worst thing about hydrogen, we reckon, is that it simply doesn't smell as nice as petrol. In fact, we don't think that hydrogen smells at all.
And for petrolheads everywhere, that is a disaster.
Cool SS80 outfit to sell at Stafford, 15th October 2017
Bonhams is estimating £50,000 - £60,000
We figured that patina junkies, hardcore classic bikers and serious sidecar sojourners might appreciate a few extra images of the 1938 Brough Superior SS80 featured at the top of this page.
However, aside from the info already posted, Bonhams hasn't yet given anything else away with this lot (we're advised that more info will follow "in due course"—but don't leave your motor ticking over while you wait).
Meanwhile, we can tell you that the Brough Superior SS80 range ("SS meaning "Super Sport") was manufactured between 1922 and 1939. These solid and durable bikes were powered initially by 981cc V-twin sidevalves from JAP, and from 1935 982cc Matchless sidevalves. Both carried Brough Superior branding on the timing side. Operating from Haydn Road, Nottingham, the company built around 1,000 SS80s of both types (sources also quote 1,085 or 1,086 units).
Blacknell Sidecars Ltd hailed from 9 Derby Road, also in Nottingham. Later, the company relocated to The Wharf, Gregory Street, Nottingham. These craftsman-built "chairs" were produced in a range of styles from sports to domestic to touring to commercial. Safety featured high on the Blacknell manufacturing agenda, and those worthy aspirations were variously realised in the shape of the firm's "Safety Loop Chassis", hydraulically damped leaf springs, rubber-in-torsion chassis couplings, and a sidecar brake that could be operated automatically (via the rear brake) or independently.
There are still a fair number of Bracknell's on the road, and no doubt a few more in sheds and barns looking to be rediscovered.
This particular combo has clearly been modified in numerous ways. Non-standard indicators have been fitted. The wiring needs a haircut. Various forms of corrosion have got a grip. And we'd be prepared to do any number of immoral things to get our hands on this. But it's not the Brough Superior name or fame that primes our carburettors. It's simply that this motorcycle looks like it's shed a lot of rubber over the years and has seen plenty of action.
Yes, that might simply be biking fantasy on our part. Then again, if you think it's true, it's true. Kinda, anyway.
£50,000 - £60,000 is the estimate. We'll be watching this one closely come the 15th October 2017 when the Bonham auctioneer puts this motorcycle in the spotlight at Stafford.
Steely Dan co-founder is dead
End of an era for fans of "The Dan"
Walter Becker, co-founder of Steely Dan—the world's greatest jazz-rock-funk-fusion band of balladeers—has died aged 67. We heard the soul-wrenching news yesterday (Sunday 3rd September 2017) whilst listening to Johnny Walker's Sounds of the Seventies, and the announcement stopped us in our tracks.
Walter Becker (pictured left with Donald Fagen).
If we'd been paying closer attention to the general fan news, we might have seen this coming. He'd recently missed a few significant gigs, and that was highly unusual. His absence was simply cited as "recovering from an illness."
Walter Becker met Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen in Bard College, New York State. That was back in the 1960s when this pair of world-class cynics were just teenagers. After discovering that they shared similar tastes in music, humour, sci-fi authors and movies—and being disillusioned at academia—the duo finished their studies and moved to Brooklyn, New York. There, they began tentative careers as jobbing songwriters working from the world famous Brill Building; that great cauldron of talent which gave us Bacharach & David; Leiber & Stoller; Goffin & King; Boyce & Hart; Greenwich & Barry; Neil Diamond; Marvin Hamlisch; Laura Nyro; Phil Spector and Paul Simon (to name just a few notables).
Fagen had plenty of experience working with pretty much every college band that could strum a chord or rattle a drumstick. Becker's "practical" experience was considerably less. However, he was already becoming a competent guitarist (having started out on the saxophone), and the pair worked for 18 months or so with the band Jay and the Americans. It was not an entirely happy or satisfactory time which culminated when a job offer of staff writers at ABC Records in Los Angeles came their way.
However, if their time at the Brill Building had taught them anything, it was that their songs were largely unsuited to the requirements and talents of other artistes, and shifting to ABC did little or nothing to change that view. But the duo had faith and ambition, and if they didn't have all the skills needed to make their music walk and talk, they knew where to get them.
In 1971, the embryonic Steely Dan was formed. In fact, Steely Dan was effectively always embryonic because pretty much every song featured a different line-up, hence a different band and a new beginning with each tune. Notable Steely Danners include Larry Carlton, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Jeff Porcaro, Denny Dias, Jim Hodder, and David Palmer. Musical support came also from the likes of Mark Knopfler, Lee Ritenour, Wayne Shorter, Victor Feldman, Elliott Randall, Michael Omartian and Michael McDonald.
▲ Left to right, Can't Buy a Thrill; Countdown to Ecstasy; Pretzel Logic; Katy Lied; The Royal Scam; Gaucho; Aja; Two Against Nature; and Everything Must Go. Perfect they're not. But this is slick, smart and soulful music for thinking jazz-funksters. Tip: Get Danned before it's too late.
The album Can't Buy a Thrill was released in 1972. Becker and Fagen wrote all the tunes and gave the world the classic hits Do it Again and Reelin' in the Years.
Countdown to Ecstasy (also written entirely by Becker and Fagen) was released the following year (1973). It achieved lesser commercial and critical success, but songs such as My Old School and Bodhisattva have long since become firm Steely Dan favourites both at home, on the radio and at live gigs.
Pretzel Logic was cut in 1974, the best known song being Rikki Don't Lose that Number. Once again, Becker and Fagen's writing fingerprints are all over this platter with the exception of East St Louis Toodle-Oo (written by Duke Ellington and Bubber Miley).
The album Katy Lied arrived in 1975. Becker and Fagen once again wrote the whole thing. The tracks Black Friday and Bad Sneakers were released as singles with varying success.
In 1976 Steely Dan released The Royal Scam from which the single Haitian Divorce is the best known song.
Aja came along in 1976. The singles Peg; Deacon Blues; and Josie have since become the quintessential sound of Steely Dan, an outfit which has rightly built a huge fanbase with its eclectic mix of sharp jazz chords, cutting funk chops, inscrutable and highly evocative lyrics underpinned by impeccably timed rhythms and driving lead solos.
Gaucho was the last of the "classic" Steely Dan albums. It was released in 1980 and was notable for the single Hey Nineteen, and the track Babylon Sisters—which could easily have been another single. Becker and Fagen were once again the driving force, credit-wise. But the track Gaucho was co-written by Keith Jarrett.
Steely Dan had never been much of a touring band. Indeed, the combo all too quickly quit the live show scene and retreated to the studio where Becker and Fagen were in their element meticulously crafting songs and polishing every musical detail to what is widely considered near perfection.
Early demos aside, Walter Becker never sang on any of the "classic" Steely Dan tracks. But following the break-up of the band in 1981, Becker retreated to Hawaii and became involved in record production (notably working with Liverpool band China Crisis) and subsequently released 11 Tracks of Whack (1994), and Circus Money (2008).
A singer he was not. But as with (for instance) Bob Dylan, Becker was perfectly capable of expressing his songs with exactly the right blend of wry introspection, social commentary, humorous asides and general story telling. In short, he delivered the goods and is highly recommended.
Becker was born in New York City. We've heard numerous accounts of his early life, but because the tales are conflicting and unreliable (and possibly litigious), we're simply not going there. Suffice to say that he was a great guitarist, a clever songwriter, a shrewd lyricist and a highly skilled producer possessed (like Donald Fagen) of a dangerous wit and an appropriate contempt for politicians, critics and journalists.
In 1993, Steely Dan reformed. Becker and Fagen were the only two original members, but they still had many friends in the business to draw upon, and the band began touring. Donald Fagen had since released a solo album: The Nightfly (1982—produced by Gary Katz who handled the classic Dan albums). Fagen's Kamakariad (1993) was produced by Walter Becker. Both are highly recommended.
With Steely Dan on the road again, Two Against Nature was released in 2000. Three years later (2003), Everything Must Go arrived. Neither album has exactly the old Steely Dan magic. The sound is a little more tame and measured (read "mature" and "laid-back" if you must). But there are notable high spots on both platters, and Walter Becker's lead guitar work is right at the front and reveals a cleaner, bluesier and highly distinct sound (as opposed to his more hidden bass and rhythm work of yore).
▲ Check out Walter Becker (left, with Donald Fagen) singing Slang of Ages from Everything Must Go. Corny chat-up lines and sleazy delivery doesn't come much better than this. Masterful stuff from the reformed Dan.
Since then, Becker and Fagen have largely been reprising their material and playing more to hardcore fans and acolytes. With a hugely impressive back-catalogue, the duo could afford to sit back and chill. But new material has always been in the pipeline.
And now this news.
Walter Becker was gone too soon. We'll regret this passing for a very long time to come. If you haven't yet made the Dan-leap, buy the band's greatest hits (Remastered: The best of Steely Dan), then remember to check Walter Becker's solo catalogue. And, for that matter, Fagen's.
To mark the moment, tonight we're listening to Becker's Circus Money, and it's a wonderful way to round off an evening if you've got 59 minutes and 59 seconds to spare.
He's worth all that, and much more.