From tomorrow, Monday 1st August 2011, you won't be able to apply for an online driving licence without ticking an organ donor preference box. The DVLA will be insisting that you answer one of three questions:
(a) sign away your body parts right there and then
(b) tell them that you're already on the body parts list, or
(c) tell them that you would like to decide on another occasion.
There's no option on the form telling the government to simply eff-off, if that's your preference—which indicates yet another example of how her Majesty's Whitehall Incompetents have yet again heavily weighted matters in the direction they want to go.
Fact is, many people have very strong personal/religious feelings about what happens to what's left of them if and when they wrap their bike, car or whatever around a lamp post. They don't want to end up as transplant fodder, even if someone else has to die. And that might upset many, but that's how it is.
But from Monday, saying "no" is simply not an online option. It will all comes down to "yes," "yes," or "maybe"— which paves the way for a sly shift towards "yes," "yes" and "yes."
The Labour Party, when they were in office, took a difference approach. They wanted an automatic "yes" to body-parts donation if you didn't say "no"—which is a line of argument that wouldn't find much support in, say, a rape trial. And you can be sure that with an automatic "yes", a few misplaced records or clerical errors will do much to boost the NHS's meat locker and sideline your post-mortem sensibilities.
Our advice? If it bothers you, don't apply online. If it really bothers you, tell it to your MP and David Cameron. Both are in the book. Meanwhile, you can concentrate on being a real NHS pariah simply by staying alive. Of course, some poor bastard will die because of it, but it's either you or them.
... so anyway, there we we're, trawling through the inbox when we spot an emailgram from Davida. The gist of it reads as follows:
Dear Whoever, our D4Vi9A JPV1 Visor is now approved to ECER22-05. STOP. And the design is a year old. STOP. And it looks like something a fighter pilot might wear. STOP. And it fits our Jet lids. STOP. And doesn't vibrate and cause turbulence. STOP. And it's got some stainless steel on it. STOP. And it's secured by an elasticated headband. STOP. And it costs fifty or sixty quid (depending on which lens you have). STOP. And you can flip it up and down one-handed. And ... well that's pretty much it. STOP. So any chance of a plug? STOP.
Well I have to say, we weren't too sure, especially as they sent us a pic of a familiar-looking fat bloke on a bobbed Triumph with a skinny tart on the back showing a little too much leg for serious classic biking. I mean, think of the road rash if she fell off. Think of the screams. The blood. The gore. The reconstructive surgery.
Doesn't bear thinking about. And anyway, gratuitous erotic pics like this give biking a bad name.
But we're a broad-minded lot and decided to let this one through. But next time, we want leathers, jeans, boots and gloves—with both models holding up ID cards to prove they're over eighteen (meanwhile, send us the telephone number of the skinny tart).
Address your righteous concerns to Davida at: www.davida.co.uk
— The Third Man
You'll have to be very quick if you're interested in this one because Cheffins will be flogging it tomorrow (Saturday 23rd July 2011) at their Vintage Sale at Sutton, Near Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB6 2QT.
Built by the Hunter Brothers of Melbourne, Australia, this 68mm x 68mm, 250cc, DOHC single was built around 1948 and raced only two or three times by one of the Hunters Brothers who, riding a Velo KTT, was later killed. Fellow Aussie, Sandy Maxwell, raced it for a few seasons and in 1951 brought it to the UK. Later still, yet another Aussie, Ivan Tighe, campaigned the Velo on the continent and, by all accounts, did okay.
Anyway, the bike has some history and, we hear, hasn't been mucked about with/upgraded too much, so it's sold as a "time warp" machine.
The estimate is £6,000-£10,000. Sounds like one strictly for the die-hard Velo enthusiasts. But these days, you just never know. No one trusts the banks anymore, but history is always history, and it ain't getting any cheaper.
— Girl Happy
Lance Corporal Scott Hardy and Private James Grigg of the 1st Battalion of The Royal Anglian Regiment were killed on 16th March 2010 whilst on active service in Afghanistan.
Soon after, the Scott Hardy Foundation was established, its aim being to support the families of other soldiers killed in action. Already, over £25,000 has been raised, but that's nowhere near enough to help support the dependants of our woefully underpaid and under-resourced British troops.
Next year, from 26th August 2012 to 9th September 2012, there will be an anti-clockwise ride around England, Scotland and Wales. It starts at Porky's Diner in Basildon, Essex, and will end back in Essex at a camping rally (with another rally in Scotland en route).
If you want to be part of this, get in touch with the organisers asap. August 2012 seems a long way off, but we all know how quickly another year comes around—and these events take a lot of preparation.
The organisers are also looking for any celebrity guests who can lend their support to this. So don't be shy now. Come and step up to the microphone. Don't you know there's a bloody war on?
— Del Monte
Not a very impressive result. That's the bottom line. Held at the Pavillion Gardens, Buxton on 20th July 2011, seventeen bikes went under the hammer, and twelve remained unsold.
That said, there wasn't very much to really set the heart racing. But still, five sales out of seventeen probably made it hardly worth the effort. The top seller was the "unrestored" 1933 KTT Velocette (above) that fetched £9,546.
Other results were:
2001 Harley Davidson FLSTC at £8,910
1966 Honda CB450 Black Bomber at £5,500
1954 Triumph T110 Tiger at £5,390
1962 Norton 650 SS at £4,620
And that was it. Amongst the unsold bikes was:
1938 Sunbeam Model 9
1959 AJS 7R
One machine that caught our eye was a very stylish 1950 125cc, two-stroke, three-speed Aermacchi Mach 1 that failed to find a buyer (see image below). Features include leading-link forks, a swinging arm frame, the fuel tank under the seat, and a tool box in the dummy tank. Wheels are 17-inchers. Top speed is said to be around 47mph from the 5hp engine. This bike, as you'd expect, has been restored. The reserve was £1800.
Aermacchi, incidentally, was an aircraft manufacturer founded in 1913 in Lombardy, Italy. During WW2, the firm made some good aircraft, and began motorcycle production when the shooting stopped. The last Aermacchi was produced in the late 1970s.
So does the poor-selling Buxton auction mean that some of the shine has finally gone from the classic bike sector? We think not. Buxton was, after all, just a small auction and hardly a weathervane for the market as a whole. But still, there should have been some better numbers than this.
— The Third man
When it comes to product placement, you have to go a long way to beat Harley's coup. When we first heard on the radio about this (sometime last year), we thought it was a remake of Easyrider with Peter Fonda reprising his classic, drug-fuelled hippy sojourn into Yankee redneck country.
But no. It was just another superhero movie; this time featuring Captain America: The first Avenger. If you know your Marvel Comics (and we were mostly DC fans if you want the truth), the Avengers first appeared back in 1963 and fielded a line of musclebound, Spandex-clad weirdos that included Iron Man, Ant Man, Thor, Wasp and The Hulk.
The Captain didn't appear until Issue 4 when the Avengers thawed him from a block of ice and ... well, you get the idea. The point is, he wasn't exactly the first Avenger, but he was probably the coolest (pun intended).
Well tomorrow (22nd July 2011), the movie is going to hit the cinemas of the UK, and it looks like the most ridiculous, gung-ho, trashy, self-aggrandising piece of overblown, nationalistic, Nazi-bashing rubbish. But we're gonna be right there in the front row supping Coke and munching corn and enjoying every Cinemascopic minute (all we need is to find a nephew or someone that we can take along as cover).
Meanwhile, the Captain's bike (or, actually, two or three of them) has just gone on display at Harley's museum in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA—which is what this news story was supposed to be about until we got carried away. But we're feeling better now. Okay?
The bike, incidentally, is supposed to look like a 1942 Harley Flathead. But it's really a 2011 Cross Bones hamming it up with some scrap metal for cooling fins. Tina Turner said that we don't need another hero. But we disagree. Keep 'em coming.
And hey! Wasn't there a Marvel Comics character called Captain Britain way back in the 1970s? Seems to us that there was ...
This year marks a century of Avon motorcycle tyres—and that's a century, not out. Avon, note, is Britains only UK-based manufacturer of road-going motorcycle rubber. The company, based in Melksham, Wiltshire, started in 1885 and shortly before WW1 diversified into bikes.
Anyway, it seems that the firm, in looking for old brochure and ad material to mark a gripping 100 years, has turned up a few dusty cans of film. The best of them, circa 1950, shows a Vincent twin leaving Avon's factory gates (which are still there, we hear) and going for a blast up the King's, or Queen's highway.
There's no sound, except for the faint ticker-ticker-ticker of the film. But it's a nice bit of footage all the same. We've got a copy of the vid and might stick it on Sump sometime. But until then, you can view it on the Motor Cycle News website.
Meanwhile, if you've got anything in your own archive that you feel Avon might like to see, you know what to do.
We've been reporting for a while on Bonhams' Quail Lodge auction that will take place in Carmel, California on 18th-19th August 2011 (see the Brough news items below). Well, here's another auction lot that, as likely as not, is going to fetch some serious moolah.
It's a 1928 Coventry-Eagle Flying-8. This example (above) is an OHV model and estimated at £120,000. Meanwhile, a 1925 sidevalve model is also up for grabs, the estimate for that one being less than half the price at (just) £50,000. That's a whole lot of difference for a couple of inverted valves, but who are we to argue with market forces?
But does either Eagle out-Brough a Brough? Some think so, and we'll find out on the day. But either way, we're not buying because we're skint this month.
Coventry-Eagle, in case you're interested, started out as Hotchkiss, Mayo & Meek, a Victorian bicycle manufacturer. By 1897, the name Coventry-Eagle was established. But by 1939, at the start of WW2, it was all over.
How many of the Flying-8s were built, isn't clear. And how many are left is even less clear. A handful maybe. A dozen at best. But rarity certainly does carry a premium, and the Coventry-Eagle makes, say, a Crocker look as common as muck.
— Del Monte
Footnote: This bike actually made $263,500
Yeah, we know that you guys like Sump's news pages. We get regular emails telling us so.
"Yeah, groovy stuff."
"Best classic site on the web!"
"...I've just inherited $28 million dollars and ..."
And we'd like to put even more classic bike news online, but in this internet age of instant communication, reliable info is paradoxically in short supply.
But what the hell can you do about it? Well, you can give us the gossip, that's what. We're looking for more up-to-the-minute club news, bike news, event news, product news—and all the other news that makes classic biking in the UK, and elsewhere, such a hoot.
Keep in mind that we're primarily a British classic bike site. But we're interested in intel about ALL classics. Jap. American. German. Italian. Whatever.
So drop us a line at Sump and spread the word. And if you've got a snapshot, so much the better. But lay off the phone hacking, huh? We ain't News International here. We're just poor boys (and girls) with shallow pockets and a reputation that's still mostly intact.
— The Third Man
So okay, these tank badges still turn up from time to time at autojumbles and on eBay. But rarely in good condition, and not always in the colour you want. But stop yer snivelling because Draganfly has had a batch of them re-made, and they're available now.
It's actually a two-part item; the vitreous enamel badge, and the motif/surround (that's the big chrome bit). Both items are made right here in England, and prices are £16.88 for the badge (each) and £22 (each) for the motif. You'll need to add VAT (if you're living in the UK), and postage and packing.
No, they ain't exactly giving 'em away, but Draganfly (as far as we know) make decent parts and only flog what they use for their own rolling stock. Buy quality with confidence.
— Girl Happy
There seems to be no end of Brough Superiors on the auction blocks these days. Not that we mind. It keeps the money moving and lets up have a good drool for the good things in life we can't have.
This particular Matchless-powered 1000cc Brough has the distinction of being the last SS100 to roll off the production line. The year was 1940, and it comes with a full Hadyn Road (Nottingham) factory history. The estimate is $350,000-$400,000—which is around £217,000-£248,000 at today's exchange rate (15th July 2011).
It's going to be sold at Bonhams' 14th Quail Lodge sale in Carmel, California on 18th August 2011. There's a 1954 AJS Porcupine, a pair of Coventry Eagle Flying-8s (1925sv and 1928 OHV) and a 1955 Vincent Black Prince also up for grabs.
— Del Monte
Footnote: This bike actually made $295,000
Meanwhile, here's yet another Brough Superior SS100, this one being auctioned by rival firm H&H on 21st September 2011 at the Imperial War Museum (probably Duxford rather than London; the H&H website doesn't specify).
This 1000cc JAP-powered bike was built in 1938 and despatched to Agar Cross and Co, forwarding agents, who shipped the bike overseas—apparently to Argentina (details aren't clear).
Either way, this is said to be the last SS100 powered by a JAP engine. The date and location of this auction has been mis-reported in the classic bike press, but the details above are taken straight from H&H's website. No estimate has been given yet.
— Del Monte
Oops! Looks like someone's in trouble. The word is that Harley-Davidson execs are going to be investigated over a very dodgy shares intrigue which, if criminal activity is detected, could end up in some lengthy jail sentences.
What exactly happened? Allegedly (and we did say allegedly, remember?), one or more HD suits or company officers spread a rumour that Milwaukee's most famous son was about to be taken over by US investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts thereby sending the company shares soaring into where the final space shuttle flight has just been.
Behind this, an unspecified number of HD shares had been bought up on the QT, and were suddenly dumped back on the market seconds before the rumours were scotched.
The result? A lotta dosh in someone's piggy bank. Or should that be hog bank? Either way, it smells funny and isn't being taken lightly, and someone's gotta pay. Lawyers are now circling and contacting recent investors to check if anyone's been sidling up to them in the mens room, ladies room, or elsewhere, and making improper suggestions.
Sounds like business as usual in the seedy world of corporations and takeovers and insider trading. Makes a good old British street mugging sound almost honest, huh? Thank God—and John Bloor—that Triumph is still a private firm and above all that Wall Street nonsense.
Have you heard about the latest way to deal with that ethanol problem that's gumming up your Amals, rotting your fuel taps, rusting the inside of your steel petrol tank, dissolving your GRP tank, and generally wrecking your entire life?
Well, Frost Automotive have got the answer. It comes in a little 250ml bottle and can miraculously "treat" and "stabilise" 250 litres of ethanol adulterated petrol. In Frost's own words: "... can improve drivability, increase fuel economy, restore power and reduce exhaust emissions."
And it costs only £12 a bottle.
Sound too good to be true? Well that's what we thought, which is why we tried it on our bald patches—and guess what? It all grew back. And then we tried it on a flat tyre, and it sorted that out too.
But don't take our word for it. Buy a bottle and see it if works for you. It's just gotta do something, huh?
— Del Monte
In case you haven't yet made the pilgrimage, Coventry Museum of Transport's "Coming of Age at the Ace Cafe" exhibition, which opened on 3rd June 2011, will continue until 2nd October 2011.
What's it all about? It's about youth, and acne, and motorcycles, and greasy hair, and rock'n'roll and pinball and sex and ... well you already know the whole story because it's been done often enough, on TV and the radio and in the press—and you can visit the Ace in North London seven days a week, every day of the year, if you missed a bit.
But Coventry Transport Museum have their own take on it, and it looks like a lot of effort has been spent on getting it right. Except that these things usually turn out a little cheesy and mythologise something that for most Ace faces was actually pretty mundane (truck drivers, stewed tea, arteriosclerosis sandwiches, boredom, etc). But okay, there were great moments too, which is what people want to hear about, and what the exhibit is celebrating. And who the hell wants fact when you can have glorious, rose-tinted fiction? Not us.
Anyway, we haven't been there and ain't planning to make this particular pilgrimage. But as ever, you can decide for yourself. Tickets are a fiver on the day, and £4.40 in advance. There are concessions too. Check the web site below for detail.
The bidding starts at £11,300, or you can buy it now (13th July 2011) for just (gulp!) £11,500. What is it? It's a 1952/53, 125cc Vespa ACMA coupled to a rare sidecar, said to be fully restored—except for the speedometer. From 1951 to 1962 ACMA (Ateliers de construction de motocycles et d'automobiles) produced Vespas under licence in Fourchambault, near Dijon, France. The firm built both scooters and micro cars, but eventually was unable to compete with Renault and Citroen and shut up shop.
In terms of classic scooter styling, it's hard (but not impossible) to beat. But £11,500? Can't see a long queue for this one. But classic scooters are definitely continuing to climb in value with strong demand (unsurprisingly) on the Italian market.
This bike's life started in France where it was manufactured, was taken by a Parisian dealer, went through the hands of some Swiss nuns, and ended up in Poland. For 25 years, we hear, it was unused.
If you like this kind of stuff, and don't mind paying near-BSA DBD34 prices for a scooter-and-chair, you'd better make your play. There's just 3 days and 8 hours to go. We've got a suspicion that a lot of people would like to have it, but no one in the current climate is going to stick their hand that deep in their pocket. Or are they?
Update: The Vespa didn't sell.
— The Third Man
We don't know if these guys ride motorcycles, classic or otherwise, and we don't care. Whatever they do in their spare time is fine by us, just as long as they keep the music coming.
If you haven't heard of them, welcome to the Hightown Crows. They're best seen live in a marketplace hammering out rootsy, twangy, bluesy, foot-stomping original numbers. But if you can't manage that, check out their free downloads on their online crowsnest.
Either way, you're gonna have to scrape some sand from your ears and get your pacemaker reset because this is gritty, graunchy, heartstopping stuff. Expect amusing lyrics and great riffs driven by a double bass and a drum kit (underpinned by a beat-up 1940s suitcase) and topped by the kind of caterwauling guitar tones that would send Brian Setzer into a rockabilly frenzy.
These guys hail from way down south (in Dorset) and can rip it up with the best of 'em. They've got three or four CDs priced from a couple of quid to around a tenner, and you can hire these smoking guns for your bike show, party or bash. And they do wakes as well—and you won't get a better send off than this combo. But don't take our word for it. Check 'em out before you take another breath. There's a YouTube link below. So get it on, brother. You'll get a beautiful nosebleed from this lot.