Yes, we screwed up. From the start, we underestimated the demand for these T-shirts and ordered too few overall, and too many in the wrong sizes.
Then we went and spilled digital beer all over the master file. So we had to design it again and tweak it here and there to make it just that little bit better. And then we decided we didn't like our supplier anymore (too slow turnaround), so we had to find someone else. And someone better.
Anyway, we finally found what we wanted and got our act together and have just taken delivery of the new batch which are brighter and crisper and are the same price as before (which, seasonally adjusted, and in real terms, and all that crap, are actually cheaper).
If you want one, which a lot of you clearly do, send us £15 plus a little extra for P&P and we'll stuff one through your letter box. Click on either image above to go to the order page, or click your heels twice, yell "GIMME A BLOODY GENUINE SUMP T-SHIRT" and then hit the link below.
The Sump fairy, PayPal and your credit or debit card will do the rest. More seriously, these are pretty cool tees and look even better as they age, which is more than can be said for most of us.
GIMME A GENUINE SUMP T-SHIRT
— The Third Man
The VMCC has reminded us to remind you that there are just a few weeks to go before they raffle the above 1959 500cc Velocette Venom. We're told that the bike is immaculate and ready to rock'n'roll. Currently, the asking price for a sorted Venom is anything from around £7,000-£12,000. That's a big price range, but you hardly need telling that the classic bike world is a fickle world riddled with inconsistencies.
The draw takes place on Friday 28th June, and the VMCC will release the bike pretty much immediately so that the new owner can get some use out of what passes for a Summer in the UK in this era of alleged global warming.
The second prize is a Davida Classic lid, and there's some other lesser stuff on offer.
Tickets cost one pound each, and you can get them from the VMCC HQ on 01283 540557. But if you're Johnny Foreigner (which includes Ireland north and south), you're out of luck. This raffle is for England, Scotland and Wales only. Why? Something to do with the gambling commission laws, apparently. Go figure.
— Del Monte
It's said that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Well enter this latest homage to Craig Vetter's 1972 BSA-powered, but Triumph badged,
It's called an XS650 Storm Kit and is aimed at owners of 1977 to 1981 Yamaha 650 Specials and 650 Standards from 1974 to 1979. It comes from the stable of Phil Little Racing in Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA, and will set you back $959—and that's for the body kit only. The exhaust will cost another $300, and then there are the Progressive 12 Series shocks ($249), the Tarozzi fork brace ($145), Storm 'bars ($39) and ... well, check the website below for more details.
The body kit, says Phil, is made from a new anti-ethanol resin so it won't dissolve and/or fill your carburettors with a nasty goo. We've heard that one before, but we'll take Phil at his word. But you might want to get some direct reassurance before you part with your money.
At first glance, we thought the kit and the bike looked okay. But then we pulled up a pic of the real thing (below), and now we're not so sure. Yes, the Storm looks like a Hurricane from a distance, or if you squint. But it ain't gonna sound like one, and ultimately, these kind of copies/rip-offs are rarely satisfactory (and if you've ever seen those Ford Capri kits with the glue-on body panels to make 'em look like out-of-scale Aston Martins, you'll know exactly where we're coming from.
Then again, The Yamaha 650 is a pretty cool classic, and giving it a new Vetteresque makeover isn't the nastiest thing we've seen done to one. And if nothing else, it's a decent looking and relatively lightweight street custom.
But you're advised (by Phil) not to ride two-up on the Storm kit. It's just not designed for it, which takes the edge off it a little (not that you'd really want to carry any extra baggage when you're out pounding the pavement on the downtown drag strip).
Take note too that the body kit is actually in two "seamless" pieces to "keep shipping costs down".
The original X-75 Hurricane tank-seat units used to be available for T140 Bonnies (with about a thimble-sized ally tank under the fibreglass), and we owned one many years back. Not sure if anyone is still producing them, but if we find out, you'll see it here. They look okay on a T140. And some say they look even better than on a Hurricane.
But if you buy or build an X-75 copy (especially an obvious copy), you're always gonna feel a little uncomfortable when the real deal pulls up beside you at the lights.
Or are we just being shallow?
— Big End
If you're looking for an extra excuse to finally haul your classic bike (or car or tractor or whatever) out of the garage/shed and get some Spring motoring done now that the sun has finally appeared, you might want to keep in mind that this Sunday (21st April 2013) is Drive it Day.
It's organised by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), and they're encouraging everyone to take to the roads and ... well, just take to the roads, really. It's something and nothing, but that's largely what the classic scene is all about.
There will be meetings and get-togethers at the usual classic hot spots (Beaulieu, the Ace Cafe, the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, etc), and there will probably be a lot of classic vehicles broken down at the roadside because they haven't been properly prepared and fettled for the season.
There's no "centre" for this event. You're just going to have to make your own entertainment wherever you are and, with luck, enjoy a lot of other old crocks on the road.
The FBHVC is a campaigning organisation and does a lot to protect your right to the road, so please consider giving them your support. Drive it Day, it's hoped, will help keep classic motor vehicles on the positive side of the UK social, political and legislative agenda rather than see them sidelined as irrelevant curiosities.
Most of all, check that bike over properly on Saturday in the relative comfort of your garage so that you don't have to do it at the roadside on Sunday.
— Del Monte
Here's a simple story: David Eaton of Warrington, Cheshire has launched a petition asking for UK motorists caught using hand-held mobile phones to be banned.
The current sanction of a £60 fine and three points on the licence clearly isn't working as well as many of us would like, and Eaton is fed up with the number of people, not least bikers, who are coming to grief because a driver was otherwise distracted by the phone call he was intent on making.
It's worth repeating that the £60 fine and 3-point penalty is effectively a tax; the inverse being that if you're prepared to pay the tax, you can continue breaking the law until you've exceeded twelve points and are finally taken off the road.
But note that new drivers will lose their licence if they tot up six points within two years of passing their test. Note also that courts can increase the fine up to £1000 if there are extenuating circumstances (up to £2500 for HGV and PSV drivers).
But clearly Eaton feels that a tax isn't appropriate in this instance and wants to move straight to a ban. And although we try to avoid being reactionary, we think that on balance, he's right.
So here's the mobile phone petition.
You know what you have to do. England expects.
— The Third Man
That's the highlight of H&H Auction's Duxford sale held yesterday, 17th April 2013. The venue was, of course, the Imperial War Museum, Cambridgeshire, and the Brough Superior BS4 and Vincent Black Lightning shown immediately above reached the same price, which is just shy of a quarter of a million pounds.
The breakdown reflects a hammer price of £220,000 for each bike, plus the buyer's premium of twelve percent. Note that there's VAT to pay on top of the buyer's premium, but no VAT on the hammer price.
Back in March, we reported on these machines (see here) and noted that the reserves were £220,000-£240,00 (Brough) and £200,000-£220,000 (Vincent).
But the rest of the results are generally a bit less overwhelming. Of the
fifty-eight machines on offer, twenty-two failed to sell, and we noted that many of the Triumphs on offer changed hands below their estimates and were simply not quite hitting the numbers we would have expected.
The 1961 650cc Triumph 6T Thunderbird immediately below, for instance, reached just £3,976. The numbers were matching, and the bike appears to be reasonably well presented. But this price is about the same as you'd expect to pay currently for a clean and sorted T140 (no disrespect to T140s, of which we own two). But we would have anticipated around £4500 for this bike, with a dealer re-sale price at around £5000-£5500.
Meanwhile, the 1969 750cc BSA Rocket Three fetched £6,832, which isn't top-dollar for what looks to be a complete and correct example of a relatively rare and iconic sixties British superbike. It needed re-commissioning following an owner rebuilt, the numbers are matching, and the registration documents are Irish. Another thousand quid or so on this wouldn't have shocked us. But clearly, on the day it found its value, and you can't argue with that.
The 1936 1100cc Brough Superior 11/50 above, however, didn't find a buyer.
Overall, H&H are likely to be very satisfied with the sale, but might have done considerably better had the firm held the auction at a weekend thereby drawing in a larger crowd. Or perhaps the venue simply isn't available on a Saturday or a Sunday.
We'll have to remember to ask them that sometime.
Update: H and H have since told us that the venue was, in fact, packed on the day, largely due to their "innovative decision to send a catalogue to everyone registered on their mailing list".
— Big End
It might sound like a silly-season story, but this is as serious as worn footrest rubbers.
Just what the hell do we do if and when the next in line to the British throne declares that he or she is as bent as a nine bob note and wants to pass down his or her genes?
So okay, in these enlightened times of at least theoretical sexual equality and social emancipation, no one much cares about which side of your toast you prefer the butter.
But when these questions impact on the thorny issue of Royal succession, it gets a little more complicated.
To that end, the UK Parliament is currently debating the Succession to the Crown Bill. It's an update on the existing royal laws and is designed to ensure that the first-born daughter to Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, becomes Queen.
However, according to laws dating back to the 18th century, only an "heir to the body" can sit on the throne. But modern artificial insemination techniques, same-sex marriages and general sexual politics has set a lot of grey heads scratching, and Tory peer, Lord True, would like to see an amendment to the new bill to ensure that such an heir must be the product of a lawful heterosexual union.
Lord True said that he's not opposed to queens, per se. But he feels that the laws need to be adjusted to take account of our modern attitudes to such matters.
“What happens if we have a lesbian queen in a same-sex marriage who conceives using an egg implanted with donor sperm? " he said. "The law should be clear, but this is a question that has not been thought through in the Bill.”
But what happens if, for instance, the Queen's body is hijacked by a bunch of roving mutant aliens and she conceives a love child from a same sex Muslim student terrorist without a current visa?
Or what happens if the president of the United States donates life-saving body parts to the terminally ill heir of the British throne whilst recovering from surgery at a sex-change clinic in, say, Russia or China?
As you hunker down on your hands and knees in your lock-up garage counting the roller bearings needed to repair your Triumph clutch and wondering whether Brylcreem is a suitable substitute for high melting-point grease, you might think that there are more urgent things to discuss.
But hey, we live in a constitutional monarchy where queens are commonplace, if not rampant. And these vexing conundrums, like the issue of three million unemployed, mass immigration, over-population, the continued militarisation of the British police, the collapsing road infrastructure, a pensions black hole waiting to crush us into infinity, the manifold failings of the National Health Service and what to do on a Monday night have also got to be addressed.
Lord True (and how's that for a true-blue Tory moniker?) has since "withdrawn" his amendment, and suddenly all's right with the realm once again (aside from the aforementioned problems, that is).
It's a cheeky world, isn't it, love?
— Sam 7
▲ Above: Margaret and Dennis Thatcher at Les Harris's Newton Abbot factory in Devon discussing the Matchless G80, 1987
The greatest British prime minister since Winston Churchill? Some might argue that Maggie Thatcher, who died on 8th April 2013, left a legacy that, in some respects, actually matched Winnie's.
Voted into the top job in three successive general elections, this was the grocer's daughter who took on Argentineans in what was widely viewed as an unwinnable conflict, and won. This was the woman who took on the trades unions also in what was widely viewed as an unwinnable fight, and won. This was a woman who took on the IRA and stood her ground in the wake of very direct and very personal retaliation, and (in the long run) won.
No, we're not Thatcherites.
Far from it. Here at Sump we never much cared for Maggie or her divisive policies. We didn't at all like what happened to the miners (although the unions as a whole had it coming). We're not convinced that the Falklands War was worth the deaths of 258 British military personnel (or, for that matter, the deaths of 649 Argentinean kids conscripted into a fight that few of them wanted). We're not happy that thousands of council houses were flogged off with no replacements to follow. We didn't support the privatisation of the UK utility companies which paved the way for the privatisation of the rail network. And we lament the decimation of British industry.
The list goes on.
But we didn't have much time for the other side either—and we certainly haven't got a New York Second to spare for the lefty morons currently dancing in the street and popping champagne corks at the news of her demise.
Whatever your personal feelings regarding her policies, few can reasonably argue that Thatcher was the most significant Briton since World War Two and has rightly earned a place as one of the greats of British politics—correction, of world politics. And when Maggie was on the throne (and at times she certainly gave the impression that she was royalty), the country stood a little taller than it does today, and no one accused the British bulldog of being America's poodle (no offence intended to the Yanks).
Some are now arguing that the £10 million bill for her gun-carriage funeral is a price too high. But at around 20p for every citizen of this green and sometimes pleasant land, we figure that that's cheap at double the price. Fact is, a nation needs to come together from time to time and focus attention on itself and question its values and recover some perspective—and there's nothing like a mountain or a funeral to do exactly that.
But beyond all this is another simple, inescapable fact; if death means no longer having an influence on the world, then Margaret Thatcher, for better or worse, for richer or for poorer, is very much alive.
Get over it.
It's another bike that used to belong to Hollywood "superstar" Steve McQueen and could be yours for somewhere between £22,000-£28,000
(if Bonhams has set a realistic estimate).
Exactly how much involvement McQueen had in this 1914, 4hp, ex-board track Indian racer isn't clear (Loved? Cherished? Ridden? Left under a tarpaulin and forgotten about?).
Regardless, it's got motorcycle royalty in its provenance, so doff your lid when you see it. Then again, McQueen wasn't the last owner, and his prints probably aren't on it anywhere, so that maybe takes it down a notch in value.
You'll be able to get a look at it first hand when Bonhams (who supplied the image) auctions the bike at the International Classic MotorCycle Show at Stafford on Sunday 28th April 2013.
We like this Indian plenty and would be prepared to do some pretty unspeakable things to put one in the garage. But the colour? That takes a little getting used to.
So far, 242 machines are on offer at the Stafford sale including a 1913 Excelsior 61ci Model 7C Twin (estimate £35,000-£45,000), and a fully-restored 1913 Rex 896cc V-twin (estimate £18,000-£22,000).
There are also a trio of Broughs. Here are the details:
- a 1926 Brough Superior SS80/100 (estimated at £160,000-£200,000)
- a 1931 SS80 (estimated at £50,000-£70,000)
- a 1921 Model G (estimated at £20,000-£30,000)
Lastly, there's a Vincent Black Shadow in the sale (above) which "formed part of the factory’s bid to set a new 24-hour speed record at Montlhéry in France in May 1952". Bonhams is expecting to raise between £110,000 and £130,000 for that.
If you want more details of these bikes, check out the catalogue. And remember that even at the low end of the market, there are usually interesting lots to be had.
UPDATE: The bike fetched £113,500.
— Del Monte
Make a special note in your diary for 25th May 2013, which is a Saturday.
It's the date of the
26th Southern Classic Bike Show and Autojumble organised by Bonneville Salt Flats serial record breaker Eric Patterson.
What makes this show different from the others is that there will be a cafe racer corner to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Ace Cafe.
It will happen at Kempton Park Racecourse, Staines Road East, Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex TW16 5AQ—and Kempton is a must for serious autojumblers at home and overseas.
The show attracts literally bus loads of French, Dutch and German visitors, and Eric and the Ace are looking forward to seeing a strong cafe racer contingent from the continent. British bikes, Japanese bikes, European bikes and American bikes. They're all especially welcome if they've got
clip-ons, rear-sets, and plenty of rocker attitude. And if you can dress the part, so much the better.
The show opens at 10.00am and closes at 5.00pm. Standard admission is just £6.00. Contact Eric if you want to give your cafe racer the public airing it deserves.
Eric, take note, will also be campaigning a Brough Superior at the Pendine Sands Speed Trials this year (see news item below).
Lastly, it case it isn't clear from the image, the red bike above is a Rickman Metisse Triumph which will be on display at the event.
— Girl Happy
Unquestionably one of Britain's leading sidecar racers of the 1950s and 1960s, Pip Harris died in February 2013 at the age of 85.
His father was Harry "Curley" Harris, a well known TT racer who ran a garage business in Wombourne, South Staffordshire. His brother was John Harris, also an accomplished rider.
But Pip Valentine Harris found fame in his own right riding BMW outfits and was generally accompanied by Charles Billingham or Ray Campbell.
Pip never had a TT win, but he twice came second and twice came third, and he took first place in the 1960 Dutch TT. His greatest race.
On three occasions, he also won the Auto-Cycle Union British Championship Sidecar Event and became the first winner of the £500 sidecar prize. It's said that his favourite course was Oulton Park at which he last raced in 1973.
He started on a "Grindlay Bitza" in 1946 riding on sand. Later he campaigned a series of marques including a Matchless G45 and a Manx Norton, and he briefly enjoyed a spell on Gunga Din, the legendary 1947 998cc Vincent
V-twin test bed that's arguably the most famous Vinnie of them all.
But Pip will be best remembered as a BMW rider. He leaves behind a wife and five children.
— The Third Man
It's one the most evocative names in English racing. The seven mile stretch of Carmarthen Bay in South Wales is the nearest Britain has to Daytona Beach in Florida, and Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, and has hosted some of the greatest automotive racers of the 20th century, and one or two aviators.
We're talking, notably, about world land speed record breakers Malcolm Campbell (driving the first Blue Bird; later to become Bluebird) and John Godfrey (J.G) Parry-Thomas (driving the legendary Babs) who, between 1924 and 1927 focussed the eyes of millions on an otherwise wet and not very hospitable stretch of the Atlantic coast.
Campbell hit 146.16mph and 174.22mph, and Parry-Thomas twice raised the bar to 169.3 and 170mph.
In 1933 Amy Johnson, Britain's most famous flyer (Richard Branson notwithstanding) took off from Pendine Sands with her husband Jim Mollison en route to New York and pranged her de Haviland Dragon Rapide in Connecticut, New Hampshire narrowly escaping with her life.
Malcolm Campbell's grandson (and Donald Campbell's nephew) Don Wales, set an electric land speed record at Pendine Sands in June 2000 hitting 137mph (a record that's since been broken).
And thousands of "ordinary" racers have competed at Pendine riding sprinters, speedway bikes, dragsters, hot rods and pretty much everything else—right down to sand yachts.
And if all this has whetted your appetite for a day out on a Welsh beach, you'll be interested to hear that the Pendine Landspeed Racing Club (PLRC), a group of "dedicated individuals, petrol heads, bike builders, racers and motor sport lovers" will be staging the Pendine Sands Speed Trials on Saturday 22nd and Sunday the 23rd June 2013.
The first speed trial, say the organisers, is for pre-1990 motorcycles only. But later, when they get to grips with the size and shape of public interest, they'll be looking to increase entry slots and expand the scope.
If you're interested (and both volunteer and commercial support is welcomed), you can call the people at PLRC on: 07960 218 682 between 9am & 9pm. Or try their website.
— Big End
One hundred and four years old. That's some innings, and one that many of us can expect to achieve.
But this isn't about us. It's about
Dr James Kelly Swanston who died in February at his home in Helmsley, North Yorkshire.
Born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Swanston began riding in 1924 on a 1913 FN. Toogether with brother Jack, he founded the still active Kirkcaldy and District Motorcycle Club.
His racing career began with a BSA Sloper before moving onto Velocette, New Imperial and Norton. Almost from the start, he was a serious contender and took over 100 wins riding on road, sand and grass.
In 1933, riding in the Junior Manx, he came in 17th. In 1934, he rode a New Imperial and came 18th. In 1935 he borrowed a Norton and came third.
In 1931, also on a Norton, he rode in the Senior but retired. In 1932 he came tenth. In 1934 he came second. And in 1935 he won averaging 79.62mph, and beating future champion Freddie Frith.
Norton supported his competition aspirations and kept his bikes at the cutting edge of 1930s technology. However, his calling was not as a motorcycle racer but as a doctor, and he was a familiar figure in his neighbourhood driving around in his Morris Traveller—and was still driving into his 90s.
As a young man, he attended Edinburgh University and even there won medals (for medicine and surgery). Later he served as an RAF medic, and in 1938 married his wife Mollie (who died in 2006).
Swanston kept a succession of Labrador gun dogs, took up oil painting, stick making, tapestry and gardening (and for a while managed a 55-acre plot). He was also said to be an avid reader and enjoyed Sudoku and a daily glass of wine.
Above all else, this was a man who aimed high, took chances, won a little, lost a little, but above all else really lived his life to the full, and there's a lesson for the rest of us.
Long ago, in a distant corner of the classic bike galaxy, there was an independent show called Normous Newark (run by Jeff Needham trading as Penny Farthing Fairs).
But then the "evil empire" zeroed in and assimilated it, and now it's on the Mortons Media books.
So okay, you can't blame Mortons (publisher of The Classic Motorcycle, Classic Bike Guide, Old Bike Mart, etc) for wanting to own 100% of the classic bike show calendar.
They've already got the lion's share of it (International Bike Show at Stafford, Classic Mechanics Show at Stafford, Netley Marsh Eurojumble, Scottish Bike Show, Big Kent Bike Show, and so on) and they've got the magazines and newspapers with which to promote them.
But it all makes you wonder what the hell EMAP/Bauer has been doing all this time in letting the grass grow under its desks, because it can't be a good thing to have the game weighted so heavily in favour of one player.
EMAP might have been better advised to bulwark its failing grip on the motorcycle scene by cutting itself a slice or two of the show cake and hedging its profits. But the firm missed that bus long ago leaving a vacuum that others filled—and fortunately, many of those were independents. And EMAP's successor, Bauer, if it currently has the spare cash, doesn't appear to have the energy or vision.
A massive (Mortons) motorcycle media monopoly doesn't (necessarily) make for better shows. It doesn't (necessarily) make for a good national spread of events. And it certainly doesn't increase competition.
Instead, it strangles it.
However, ultimately it's all down to market forces, and Mortons has clearly worked long and hard to get where it is, and riders and visitors can vote with their feet and wheels.
But before you spend all your coin, you might want to consider making sure that the aforementioned independent and/or smaller promoters occasionally get a look at the inside of your wallet. The classic bike scene in the UK doesn't (or at least shouldn't) revolve only around money. It revolves around grassroots enthusiasm, and you don't get too much of that in a corporate ledger.
Let's hope that the Normous Newark show does go from strength to strength (as Mortons is promising it will) and doesn't go simply from price to price hike. And well done to Jeff Needham for capitalising on what has no doubt been years of hard work. He'll be staying on for a while, we hear, to ease the transition.
The classic bike season has had a cold start this year. There have been many cancellations and postponements, and we know that many organisers are having a hard time.
Keep that in mind if you will when you peruse the Sump events calendar.