Cheffins fielded four outfits at its Cambridge sale on 19th October 2013. Three were Vincents, and one was an Ariel Square Four. Overall, 35 motorcycle lots were on offer of which 10 failed to sell.
Nothing stood out for us as particularly sensational or unexpected. The only real noteworthy point was the 1957 Ariel Square Four and Watsonian which fetched just £7500. We would have expected slightly more than that. But then, post war Squariels haven't been doing too well lately, and we've seen quite a few (solo machines) coming onto the market in recent times—and there's nothing like an oversupply to dampen demand.
The Vincents, however, comprised a 1953 1000cc Rapide C (above, Lot 1341) c/w with a Steib 501 sidecar. The bike started out solo, got hitched some time after to a lonely Watsonian, and was then divorced and re-hitched to the Steib. So much for Til Death Do Us Part.
Most of the engine work was carried out by Tony Maughan at Maughan Vincent, with the lead-free headwork handled by Bob Dunn. Other modifications include 12 volt electrics, an outrigger kit for the front brake, Black Shadow brake drums all round, the fitment of an automatic anti-wet sumping valve, and a Shadow 150mph speedometer. The frame and engine numbers are accurate, and the registration is JJF 125.
The reserve was £35,000 - £38,000. The hammer price was just £27,000.
Next, the 1951 1000cc Vincent Rapide (above, Lot 1329) is fitted with a Blacknell sidecar. Neither has seen much use since 2004 with just 800 miles added to the 150mph speedometer. But then, few people buy Vincents to actually use, which reminds you of what Oscar Wilde said about youth being wasted on the young. Regardless, the registration number is RHA 174, and the other pertinent numbers have been checked by the Vincent Owners Club.
The reserve was £30,000 - £34,000, and the hammer price was £33,000.
Moving on, the above 1949 1000cc Vincent HRD Rapide C and Steib S-501 sidecar (above, Lot 1322) carried a reserve of £35,000 - £38,000 and found a buyer for £36,000. The engine/frame numbers are all correct, and the bike has been through the restoring mill at least once. If you want the registration number it's KLX 436.
Lastly, the 1957 1000cc Ariel Square Four 4G and Watsonian Monza sidecar (Lot 1331) sold for £7500 from a reserve of £7000 - £8000. We hear that at around 1973, with 60,000 miles on the clock, the well known Healey Brothers and Ariel specialists rebuilt the engine. That mileage has since risen to 104,000 miles, but the bike hasn't really been used since 1987 and has been ... you guessed it, sitting in a garage.
There's a lot we could say about that, but it ain't our bike, and ain't our business, and people are free to do what they want with their wheels. And anyway, we've got a few guilty garage secrets of our own. But the bike has now been sold, so maybe it will see a little sunlight again.
The registration number is 688 MMP.
— Del Monte
He was born Lewis Allan Reed, was a founding member of the Velvet Underground, became a legendary solo singer songwriter, and died as one of the most influential musicians of his generation.
In the early 1960s, after a spell hosting a radio show and working as a "house songwriter" for Pickwick Records, Lou Reed co-formed the Velvet Underground with the now almost-as-legendary John Cale. Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker soon after joined the fledgling group.
In pure commercial terms, The Velvet Underground was never a success and was formally wound up in 1973, but Cale and Reed had by then since departed the group and moved onto other things.
Over the succeeding decades, The Velvet Underground's mix of experimental art rock, proto-punk grooves and avant garde psychedelia has been cited as a major influence in the careers of hundreds if not thousands of bands and performers.
In 1972, Lou Reed recorded the seminal album, Transformer (produced by David Bowie and guitarist Mick Ronson) and caught a new wave (pun intended) which consolidated his reputation as an original and inventive songwriter. The hit song "Walk on the Wild Side" was taken from the Transformer album and for decades became his signature tune.
The albums "Berlin", "Sally Can't Dance" and "Rock 'n' 'Roll Animal" followed, and over the next decade Reed was to forge new alliances with a seemingly endless line of musicians seeking collaboration, or perhaps merely hoping to touch some gold.
During the 1990s Reed (jointly with John Cale) briefly reformed the Velvet Underground, albeit with limited success. Following that adventure/diversion, he extended his creative talents in numerous directions and was always a complex, unpredictable, uncompromising, misunderstood and challenging artist and performer.
A poet, a film maker, an actor, a songwriter, and a musical pioneer, Lou Reed released over thirty albums and was always pushing the boundaries and searching for new forms of creative expression.
He was well respected among the musical A-list which included David Bowie, Brian Eno, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Jarvis Cocker and Metallica, and his songs have been recorded and reinterpreted by dozens of artists thereby helping to keep Reed's flame burning and also helping fuel his mystique.
In recent years, Lou Reed was more closely associated with the song "Perfect Day". But most Sump's visitors will no doubt prefer to remember him simply as the man who walked on the wild side.
Lou Reed was 71.
Now listen carefully because we're going to say it only once. This coming Monday (28th October 2013), BBC Four will be showing at 9.00pm: The Glory Days of British Motorbikes.
It's part of the long-running Timeshift series of documentaries and will offer repeat showings on Tuesday 29th October 2013 at 02:40, and on Thursday 31st October 2013 at 10.30pm, also on BBC Four.
Biking documentaries are invariably the same old tired cut-and-paste melange of not-so-sound bites, tedious platitudes, hyperbole and exaggerated anecdotes. And far more often than not, you usually get maybe five to ten minutes of meaningful footage spread over a cringeworthy, if not agonising, hour.
But (once again) we're giving the producers the benefit of the doubt, and we'll naturally be sat in front of the telly with our beer and popcorn watching it all unfold and looking for the first cracks.
So unless you're from some other part of the world that can't access BBC Four by satellite or internet, we'll see you there.
— Girl Happy
We took a vote here at Sump, and we agreed that this is one of the worst covers that we've seen on any publication in a long time.
But like they say, you can't judge a book by it, especially when that book is written by classic bike journalist, author and test rider Mick Duckworth who invariably does a stand up job and keeps us entertained and enlightened.
But the late Doug Hele, ex-Triumph Development Engineer, famed for his work with Triumph twins and triples and widely respected throughout the motorcycle industry, deserves a better cover than this.
▲ Above: Left to right, Jack Shemans, Arthur Jakeman, Doug Hele and Les Williams, Meriden circa 1967 dyno testing a Triumph twin.
That said, we've got little doubt that this 208-page hardback will provide good reading value for money for Triumph fans hoping to take a peek behind the scenes at some lesser known episodes at Meriden Triumph.
The publisher is Oracle (who we've never heard of and can't find any significant information on), the illustrations number 165, and the price is £30 plus P&P.
If you want a copy, talk to Norman Hyde who worked with Doug Hele and who forged a pretty respectable reputation of his own as a skilled Triumph engineer.
— Del Monte
Put your hands together if you will ladies and gentlemen for Liverpool Council which has suspended 24 dedicated bus lanes as from 21st October 2013.
It's a nine month experiment to see exactly what difference it makes to anyone, and naturally the bus companies and the black taxi firms are very unhappy about losing their asphalt monopoly. Elsewhere in the town, opinion is split between those who fear that pollution and congestion will rise dramatically, and the average Liverpudlian motorist and motorcyclist (who simply wants to get from A to B as quickly as possible and utilise whatever road acreage is available) who is in favour of the shift.
The man behind the suspension plan is Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson (Labour) who admits that the council has no conclusive evidence relating to the impact that the suspension will have. However, he does believe that the council has strong anecdotal evidence which suggests that the (often under-used) bus lanes are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
At Sump, we haven't got the faintest idea whether Anderson (pictured left) and friends are right or wrong. But that isn't the point.
The point is that a council has stuck its neck out and is willing to at least trial an idea that might successfully wind back the clock to an age when the Queen's Highway was a lot freer than it is today. And that's to be applauded.
It's worth mentioning too that Liverpool Council reckons it will lose around £700,000 in annual fines currently brought in by motorists who flouted the earlier bus lane rules. So on one side of the equation, at least, the council has a lot to lose.
Of course, we're a cynical bunch and wonder if there isn't some other political agenda at work. But we don't have the time or inclination to explore it further, so we're taking this one at face value.
And we're hoping that other councils will follow suit, because it's long been our contention that most UK bus lanes are counter-productive and ought to be removed to allow more fluid movement for the private motorist who, in the main, probably generates more heat in the economy than the average bus passenger.
We'd go a lot further even and would suggest that UK local authorities also launch a traffic light cull and rid us of the time-wasting purgatory of unnecessary micro-management controls at thousands of British junctions.
If we can be trusted with roundabouts, slip-roads and general side streets, you'd think that we can handle at least most of the nations urban crossroads without being ushered like Pavlov's dogs across each intersection and conditioned into mute motoring obedience.
There's a lot to be said for the American four-way/all-way stop model.
Meanwhile, if you want to tell Joe Anderson what you think of him and his bus lane purge, you can contact the man here.
Tell him Sump sent ya.
— Sam 7
Already the exhibitors are gathering for the event that kicks off on Saturday 2nd November 2013. It's the Regent Street (London) Motor Show which expects to see over 250,000 visitors ogling around 300 vehicles spanning 125 years of motoring.
It's a free show hosted by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) that will utilise all of Regent Street from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford Circus. The shops will be open as usual, but through-traffic will be stopped and/or re-routed.
There will also be a gathering of a around 100 veteran vehicles in readiness for the annual London to Brighton Run which will take place on the following morning (Sunday) starting at nearby Hyde Park Corner.
Disruption around London's West End is likely to be considerable, and parking won't be much fun if you're on four wheels, but motorcyclists are likely to find spaces within a reasonable distance. Just make sure you check local provisions. It's easy to make a mistake and get clobbered by a heavy penalty. Remember too that not all London bus lanes are open to bikers, so double-check the signage.
Meanwhile, we wouldn't use public transport if they were giving away free money and tetanus shots. But if you're determined to get mugged, abused, shoved around and infected with some filthy disease, aim for Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square, or Green Park.
The RAC show starts at 10.00am and finishes at 4.00pm. Looks like a reasonably interesting diversion if you've got nothing else going on.
But check Sump's events listing to see if we've posted anything else on that day. At present, all we've got is the Rufforth Auto Jumble in Yorkshire. But things change quickly around here.
— Big End
This 350cc Norton Model 40 Manx was the top-selling British bike at Bonhams' Stafford Sale on 20th October 2013. It's not simply the Francis Beart association that gave this one a little (actually a lot) of extra kudos.
The bike, with its distinctive pastel green frame, is also associated with Joe Dunphy, Keith Heckles and Patrick Godet, and it comes with an intricate racing and ownership provenance, none of which has detracted from the fact that this particular Manx Norton is clearly a very desirable piece of racing kit and has fetched top dollar.
Built circa 1966, Bonhams (which supplied the pic) had estimated £25,000 - £30,000 for this lot (Lot 337). But the hammer price returned more than double that.
The frame number, by the way, is: 1 66. And the engine number is: FB 66 JUNE TT.
The top-selling item at the sale was Lot 346, a 250cc Moto Morini 250cc Bialbero (twin cam) Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle that sold for a whopping £83,260. Overall, Bonhams turned over £1.3million with 80 percent of the lots sold.
— Del Monte
Here's the latest self-test gadget for anyone who wants to check his or her blood-alcohol level. It's called the Breathometer, and it will be ready to ship to the UK in October or November 2013, or earlier 2014.
The device is designed to plug into the headphone jack of a smartphone, and it comes with an app which handles all the technical stuff.
Moreover, the gadget runs a little computer program which will tell you how long it will be before your alcohol level is back to zero. And if you decide you're not fit for the road (which, for a variety of reasons, many of us aren't), you can punch a button and it will even tell you where you can get a cab.
If they could just make these devices capable of dispensing beer too, we'd be very interested in one.
In the meantime, our inbuilt staggerometers and hic-meters have generally been reasonably effective (coupled with the fact that being the saintly types we are, we never drink and ride/drive anyway).
But if you want one, the price is likely to be somewhere around £30-£40 (depending on who you ask). And how accurate is it? Well it's supposed to be as good as any of the typical high end roadside devices. That's what the manufacturer tell us, anyway.
— Del Monte
The problem appears to be the hydraulic clutch which can fail to generate sufficient lift to disengage the drive, with obvious potential problems.
It's not all bikes. Just those built between 3rd May 2013 and 14th October 2013, specifically the big tourers such as the FLHTCU, FLHTK, FLHTP, FLHX, FLHXS, FLHTKSE and FLHRSE.
But additionally, 3,861 Softail CVOs and Trikes such as the FLHTCUTG, FXSBSE and FLSTNSE (who the hell can remember all these initials?) are in the firing line.
If you own one of these motorcycles and have bought it direct from a Harley-Davidson dealer, you've probably already been notified. But a DO NOT RIDE notice and a DON'T DELIVER notice has been (voluntarily) issued by Harley-Davidson who are keen to spread the word.
This problem also affects bikes in the UK. So if you haven't been contacted by a Harley-Davidson dealer, talk to one to clarify the position.
— Girl Happy
Actually, it made £16,240 at H&H's recent Duxford Sale (16th October 2013) which, as far as we know, is a record for such a bike. But whether it's a mere blip on the radar or a full scale price invasion remains to be seen.
The TT Special began life in 1963 as the T120C; a competition-based machine aimed squarely at US buyers. Johnson Motors, Triumph's West Coast distribution arm (which launched Triumph into the vital American market), was the driving force behind this creation.
By 1965, the T120C had been tweaked and peaked until it boasted a 12:1 compression ratio and a 50bhp (or so) output; a big hike from the 42bhp (or so) of the standard T120.
But unlike the standard models, the TT carried no excess fat and, with its 1-3/16 inch twin Amals and energy transfer ignition, was said to be capable of a blistering 0-60mph in around 5.5 seconds and could crack 120mph.
In 2008, this bike (Lot 46) was brought home to Blighty from the US and rebuilt, registered, MOTed and (free) taxed. The registration number is: PNW209C. The frame number: T120TTDU31534. And the engine number is: T120TTDU31534.
We spoke to classic bike dealer, Phil Clarke, who (like the rest of us here at Sump) expressed surprise at the sale price. "I've sold a few over the last few years," said Phil, "and they've generally fetched around £10,000 at the top end. I could see them rising in value because interest is very high and there are lots of buyers out there. But £16,000 is certainly very big money."
Overall, the H&H Duxford Sale produced mixed results. There were 79 two-wheeled lots, of which fifty were motorcycles, of which only eighteen were sold.
The 1950 AJS 16C (Lot 48: immediately above) fetched a very healthy £7,280. Earlier in the sale, a genuine Rocket Gold Star (Lot 37, immediately below) found a new keeper for £18,480, way ahead of two replica RGSs that made, respectively, £6,720 and £7,392—thereby reminding us that originality still carries a serious premium. Meanwhile, a third RGS replica failed to sell.
Perhaps most disappointing to H&H (on the motorcycle side of the sale, at least) was the fact that a 1960 498cc/34bhp Bianchi estimated at £130,000 - £150,000 failed to sell, thereby depriving the auction house of a large chunk of commission change.
But still, the above 1956 Bentley Continental Fastback topped the car sales and returned a consolatory £308,000. Should be able to buy a few boxes of Kleenex with that.
— Del Monte
We were tipped off about this wonderful heap of rust by Sump visitor Andrew Fetchina from New Jersey, USA who spotted in on eBay. There's not a lot of information about this bike, except the facts that's it's got matching engine and frame numbers, is located in Gainesboro, Tennessee, was purchased possibly from France, was registered in the USA in 1948, and looks like it's got some racing history (maybe flat tracking).
The current owner, who recently acquired the bike, fitted the kickstarter from a 1960s Triumph purely to keep the engine turning over. But otherwise, not much has been done with it.
As of today (18th October 2013), there are 13 bids. The offer is currently at $10,600, but the reserve hasn't been met.
Check it out here: 1939 Triumph T100 link.
Meanwhile, we've launched a Sump fund so that we can repatriate this Triumph and stick it in the corner of the office and keep it safe from restorers. So all contributions are welcome. Just stick your coins in the (above) tin, please. And don't be mean. Our mental well-being depends upon your generosity.
UPDATE: The bike sold for $13,988 (£8,642)
— The Third Man
Okay, stand by everyone because we're going to do some name dropping. We're mentioning racers such as Dick Mann, Gary Nixon, Barry Sheene, and Paul Smart.
We're mentioning designers such as Craig Vetter, Edward Turner and Soichiro Honda.
We're mentioning bikes such as the BSA Rocket 3, the Triumph Trident, the Triumph Hurricane, the Honda CB750, the Kawasaki Z1, the Laverda Jota, the Suzuki GT750, the Norton Commando, and the Yamaha XS750. There's also a nod towards the oddball DKW Hercules W2000. And we've just got to mention the XLCH Harley-Davidsons.
And here's one more name. Dave Sheehan. The author.
All these personalities come together between the covers of this new title from Panther Publishing. The 321 page book aims to tell the story of the 1970s when the Brits, the Japs, the Italians, the Yanks and everyone else vied for two-wheeled supremacy in a new age of world class superbikes; machines that were invariably splashed with acres of chrome and outrageously cool colours, stank of hydrocarbons, pushed a lot of envelopes, and generally scared the bejazus out of everyone.
The narrative, we're advised, "reads like a thriller", but you can decide that for yourself when you buy a copy.
The illustrations and photos number 83. The book size is 232mm x 174mm. And the ISBN is 9781909213128. If you want to see more, visit Panther Publishing's web site.
And the damage? Panther will flog you one for £19.95 which includes UK postage and packing.
— Del Monte
This bike hasn't been started since 1957. It's been "dry stored under a tarpaulin", covered with a "Waxoyl-like" preservative, and Bonhams will be putting it on the block at this year's Carole Nash Classic Mechanics Show at the Staffordshire Showground on 20th October 2013. The firm has listed it as "ripe for sympathetic restoration".
Is that so? Well we think someone's asking for a punch up the bracket, because this bike is ripe for preservation only, not restoration.
Specifically, it's a 498cc Series-A Vincent-HRD Meteor. But let's not quibble and just call it a five hundred. Phil Vincent had established his firm ten years earlier when HRD founder, Howard Raymond Davies, sold up the company after a troubled three year run.
Hardly impressive commercialism, but Howard Raymond Davies (1895 - 1973) was a highly competent and respected sportsman, a Royal Flying Corps pilot, a prisoner-of-war, a motorcycle racer, and (from all accounts) one hell of an interesting all-round character.
But clearly he was not the businessman he needed to be. Nevertheless, Davies campaigned bikes of his own design, and he acquitted himself well on the national tracks with many victories. But HRD motorcycle sales were slow, and firm went into voluntary liquidation in 1928.
▲ Above: That road tax disc (top right hand corner) was last renewed in 1957, the year the Russians launched Sputnik. The registration number of this bike is FGT 446. The frame number is D1554. The engine number is M629. The engine turns, the gear selects, spares are included, and an old style log book is present. And if you buy it and restore even a single nut and bolt, your ass is grass. Don't say you haven't been warned.
An ambitious young Phil Vincent came along that year, bought the spoils (tools, jigs, name, etc) and founded the Vincent-HRD company. Australian engineer Phil Irving happened along about this time too, and the duo set to work creating world class and cutting edge bikes (although most motorcycle historians accept that the technical driving force of the engine design was Irving, leaving Phil Vincent (affectionately known as PCV) largely in a managerial role, where he most needed to be).
Either way, the Series-A Meteor was first displayed at Olympia during the 1934 show. Four years on, this example was manufactured. Three quarters of a century later, the bike has resurfaced to a very different world; a world that's hungry for machinery such as this and will pay through the nose to get it.
Bonhams has estimated the hammer-fall at £22,000 - £26,000. We think it's too low, and maybe Bonhams knows it too (but probably doesn't want to scare off its market with an overly high starting hurdle). We're watching this one with interest, and it looks like it's going to be a very interesting auction that's fielding a lot of bikes, and maybe a few surprises.
Be there, or be elsewhere.
UPDATE: Bonhams got this one on the nose. It sold for £25,300
— Big End
Cotswold Classics is offering this endangered member of the Triumph species, and is asking a cool £8,950 (16th October 2013). We really have no idea if the price is right because we haven't seen one of these for a while (only three on the VMCC register), and UK classic bike prices are generally moving up, down and sideways in an effort to find some stability as the economy slides further.
But Cotswold Classics clearly feel that the price is on the nose (give or take a little haggling), because it's a classified eBay ad, not an auction.
The 6S was introduced in 1937. That was a momentous year for Triumph because Ariel's Jack Sangster had recently bought Triumph, and Edward Turner became General Manager and Chief Designer.
Also, Val Page's worthy-but-weighty Model 6/1 twin was "quietly dropped from the range" to help clear the decks for the new wave of singles such as the 249cc Tiger 70, the 343cc Tiger 80 and the 500cc Tiger 90. Hot on their heels the following year was the game-changing 497cc 5T Speed Twin.
The short-lived 597cc Triumph 6S cost £57 when launched, and was a fairly run-of-the-mill sidevalve aimed largely at the average working professional looking for cheap and reliable transportation with the Triumph badge on the tank.
Brand loyalty was then, as now, a powerful force, and Triumph was doing all it could to match its wares like for like with the products of BSA, Ariel, Norton, Enfield and anyone else looking for a scrap.
By 1939, the 6S was selling for £60, but that was the last year because WW2 had kicked off, and production turned to the war effort.
▲ Above: Squint, and you could be looking at a BSA M20 or M21. But then, M20 designer Val Page has his guilty fingers all over this murderously pretty motorcycle.
There was, note, a 493cc Model 5S sidevalve too that was built in 1939 for one year only; a bike that owed its existence to famed trials rider Allan Jefferies whose home-brewed 500 (based on the 343cc Triumph 3S sidevalve) provided him with a victory in the 1938 British Experts Trial.
Performance wise, the Triumph 6S is on par with the BSA M20 or Norton 16H. It cruises at around 45-50mph. Enjoys a top speed of around 55 - 60mph. Is blessed with easy starting. Is generally reliable. And promises straightforward maintenance. But it's rare, and that carries a premium.
There are no more details of Cotswold's bike save for the fact that the recorded mileage (for what that's worth) is just 896, and that the bike shares numerous parts with the pre-war Speed Twin.
A good investment? We don't know. We prefer to ride 'em and let tomorrow take care of tomorrow. But we suspect interest will be fairly high. The only question is whether that price is right.
▲ Immediately above: By coincidence, Bonhams will be auctioning this unrestored 1938 Triumph 6S at its Stafford Sale on 20th October 2013. The estimate is £3500 - £4500. A Swallow sidecar is included. The bike comes with an old style log book.
UPDATE: The Bonhams bike sold for £4,025)
— Girl Happy
Paul Napier from Clacton on Sea is the lucky so-and-so who bagged this 1972 750cc Norton Commando Fastback. The Copdock Classic Motorcycle Club were the benefactors, with the proceeds from the sale going to Serv Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, a registered charity that runs blood, vaccines and other medical supplies.
Napier, we hear, bought the the winning ticket at this year's fantastic Copdock Motorcycle Show on Sunday 6th October 2013 at the Trinity Park, Ipswich venue.
Sump was there at this show having a nose around, trawling the autojumble and taking a few snaps.
You can see for yourself what went on by clicking this 2013 Copdock Show link.
Lastly a note to Paul Napier: That Bumm mirror on your new Commando simply has to go, man. You can maybe get away with that kind of plastic on late model Commandos and T140s, but they look pretty naff on a prime 1970s-era Commie. Don't think we won't be around to check.
— Del Monte
,,, but not in the usual way with radar guns and notebooks. And not motorcycles either, but pushbikes. It seems that they've been planting bicycles in and around the city of Cambridge and have been "blatantly" stealing them in an attempt to see how many members of the public actually dial 999 to report their suspicions.
The "alarming" findings are that ... wait for it, absolutely no one reported the thefts. The police tried loitering with intent. And they tried wheeling the bikes away. And then they brought out a "pair of orange bolt croppers" and began munching locks and chains.
To highlight this supposed public indifference, the rozzers have posted a YouTube video telling the world about their pseudo nefarious antics and marvelling over the lack of feedback from Joe public. But what strikes us as more interesting is the notion that anyone in the UK has much faith in the British police anymore to do anything about anything.
Over the past decade, hundreds of UK police stations have either closed or have switched to absolute minimal opening hours, sometimes missing days altogether. Meanwhile police operators take forever to answer the phone, and then tell you to come on down to the nick, hang around their waiting rooms for an hour or two, collect a form from the desk and then do a bit of wholesome self-reporting. Moreover, you find that unless a murder has happened, the response time to a crime often ranges from hours to never.
It's not entirely the coppers' fault, of course. As a nation, we generally refuse to pay for the luxury of having a sufficient police resource on hand to maintain law and order and give us some sense of social security—and then we bitch about it when no one shows up to deal with our burglaries and lost budgies.
But you'd think that the Cambridgeshire Police would be savvy to this and would spend its time not going out and nicking its own bicycles, but actually patrolling the streets and catching the perpetrators who are doing it for real. And perhaps if they dragged a few CCTV operators away from their monitors and stuck them out on the street, they could reduce the 2100 bicycles that are nicked each year in their fair city.
There's a well known offence called "wasting police time". Well maybe there ought to be another called " wasting public time".
Just a thought, you understand.
— Big End
It doesn't look like it's going to be H&H's finest auction moment, but there are a few lots that might float a couple of boats when the firm struts its stuff at Duxford in a week or so.
The top British lot is the above (and below) 1924 NUT.
NUT (an acronym of Newcastle-upon-Tyne) was a quality manufacturer founded in 1912 by Hugh Mason and Jock Hall. The firm's fortunes (under various names and incarnations) waxed and waned, and by 1933 it was all over. But Hugh Mason had seen victory in the 1913 TT (albeit by just 46 seconds), and these guys knew exactly what made a motorcycle walk and talk.
H&H is flogging this 750cc, 5/6hp example and estimate £38,000 - £40,000 will change hands when the hammer comes down. The bike was restored in the 1990s, and recently had its nickel parts re-dipped. The brown livery, by the way, was typical of NUT.
▲ Above and below: NUT. Not the most inspiring name ever to adorn a motorcycle engine, but the firm built 'em like they rode 'em, and they rode 'em hard and notched up their share of victories. The round tank design (main image) was once very popular, and many manufacturers (not least BSA) flirted with it. But today, the market has polarised and round tanks have fewer friends. This bike is probably for collectors only.
It's doubtful that many miles, if any, have rolled away beneath the wheels of this rare and expensive curiosity. NUT used Villiers and JAP powerplants, but as far as we know, this engine is of their own design and manufacture.
Meanwhile, the same auction is offering three BSA Rocket Gold Stars (two of them replicas). The estimates range between £7000 and £18,000. Other lots include:
1960 Bianchi GP Estimate: £130,000 - £C150,000
1924 BMW R32 Estimate: £70,000 - £80,000
1921 Harley Davidson Model W Estimate: £35,000 - £40,000
1956 Matchless G45 Estimate: £30,000 - £35,000
1947 Norton Manx 40M Estimate: £20,000 - £24,000
There's nothing else that especially interests us at this sale, but you might want to check it out for yourself—especially if you like Japanese or Italian iron. The estimates generally appear to be fairly moderate, but our own antennae suggest that interest is cooling and that buyers are digging in their heels a little, certainly in the mid-market arena.
We can't quite see any sudden price drop, but it doesn't look like any kind of economic recovery is in sight, in spite of what the Chancellor of the Exchequer keeps telling us. So if you're holding tightly to your investment pennies and waiting for the market to hit rock bottom, you could be there a while longer.
UPDATE: The NUT didn't sell.
— Big End
Take a good look at the above bike. No, it's not a box-standard T100 Hinckley Bonneville. This, rather, is Triumph's latest addition to the range; the 2013 "very Special Edition Bonnie" (quote/unquote) built, we hear, as a homage to the 1982 8-valve head, T140W Triumph TSS (image immediately below).
Yes, the new bike looks vaguely like a TSS (if you squint, in the dark), but aside from the black and gold livery and the badge on the tank, the differences are as great as the similarities (and when it comes to style, the TSS has got it in the bag).
▲ Above: 1982 Triumph T140W TSS. Rare, fast but flawed. Meriden went bust before they debugged this one.
So okay, Triumph has given a few parts the "brushed look" to help us deluded fools differentiate this new T100 from the other T100s in the Triumph stable. And we see it's got a chrome grab rail too. But that aside, this is essentially the same dish warmed over. And that's disappointing.
This kind of cynical marketing is what Harley does every few months, isn't it? Take a model off the production line, throw some alternate paint at it, chuck in a trinket or two, give it another cool or corny name, and tell us that it's a limited edition or special model and thereby worthy of our coin.
Well that's crap. We know that times are tough and that bike sales across the country are continuing a downward slide. But Triumph has to do better than this to make us here at Sump sit up and pay attention.
▲ Above: The 2013 Hinckley Bonnie "TSS" homage. It's retro, alright. But it ought to be looking the other way and moving the game on.
Regardless, we hope Hinckley sell shed loads, and the £7500 asking price is par for the course. But it's time Triumph stopped raiding the heritage bins and developed what we all really want which is a truly new and original Bonneville worthy of the name and reputation.
So back to the drawing board, Mr Bloor. We might have been born at night, but not last night, etc.
— Sam 7
So it hasn't yet reached British shores, but it could be on the way.
The story is that in the Eastern European state of Slovakia, the government is inviting the proletariat to submit shop till receipts as lottery tickets.
Each submission has its serial number registered, and twice each month ten winners are drawn. Prizes range from €10,000 in cash, a new car, or smaller sums of money.
The intention, of course, is to clamp down on business VAT evaders and "clean up the grey economy" (as opposed to the black economy). Till receipts can, after all, be checked against company accounts. Government tax inspector can simply follow the paper trail.
Slovakia has two rates of VAT: ten percent applied to books and medicines, and twenty percent applied to everything else.
The Slovak finance minister reckons the country is losing €150 million each year and wants to haul it in from all those struggling business people and traders who ain't exactly cooking the books, but are occasionally warming them up a little.
The idea was tried by the ex-Soviet state of Georgia, but they abandoned it when the number crunchers decided it didn't bring in sufficient revenue. Malta currently has a similar lottery. So does Taiwan. The Czech Republic is said to be considering a move in the same direction.
Sly? Underhand? Smart? Nasty? Shrewd? Inspired? We think it's all of these. But folk will do what folk will do, not least in Eastern Europe. And a brand new Skoda, some might say, is a small price to pay for sticking it to the owner of the local garage or corner shop. Also saves money on printing and distributing the national lottery tickets.
But how long before our own beleaguered government decides to try it here? In these struggling times of falling tax revenues and diminishing public services, Whitehall is under huge pressure to grab it from wherever it can get it. Sounds like a recipe for a lot of payback.
Watch this space. And watch your back.
— Girl happy
This has become one of our most oft-repeated stories. In fact, we don't even put it away anymore. We just leave it beside the computer and dust it down the next time we need to plug a hole in the pages of Sump.
But yes, SuperBike magazine has found itself yet another owner and might now be busy supping suds in the Last Chance Saloon.
This time, the new owner is Blaze Publishing which promulgates fringe/specialist/niche magazines such as Diesel Car, Drummer, Airgun. Modern Game Keeping and Clay Shooting—which probably makes even SuperBike's editorial content look fairly intellectual. We're just kidding, of course, and each to his own and all that...
Here's a brief timeline:
IPC flogged off SuperBike in 2010 to Vitality Publishing.
Vitality Publishing bounced it in 2012 to self-styled and controversial tax-guru and TV show host Paul Baxendale-Walker. The deal was part of a package sale that included Loaded magazine.
Baxendale-Walker has now (2013) "unloaded" it to Blaze.
Throughout this, the credibility of the magazine (along with its circulation) has been dropping. It sounds like this once august publication needs a change of name to Hot Potato, but we ain't sneering about it.
The high point of SuperBike sales was, we hear, 73,000 copies in print. That was back in 2003 when you could still hear money jingling in people's pockets. By 2011, SuperBike had lost a whopping 57,000 readers, which is one of the biggest exoduses since Moses led to the Israelites out of Egypt.
But to keep it in perspective, various Bauer motorcycle titles (ex-Emap) are in the same downward spiral (Morton Media, meanwhile, steadfastly refuses to ABC their sales figures).
So if and when SuperBike finally hits the bottom, chances are it won't be alone.
If you've recently had the unfortunate experience of attending a funeral, better not put that black suit away just yet. There used to be a lot of sought-after writing on the SuperBike pages, but lately most of it appears to be on the wall.
▲ Above: One of four Garner-built Norton Commandos currently on sale on eBay. But is anyone actually buying?
"Just weeks after settling into the new 45,000 sq ft production facility at Hasting House, located within the grounds of Donington Hall, Norton Motorcycles is developing and growing its export market."
That's not us talking.
That's Stuart Garner's Norton propaganda machine. Trouble is, Norton forgot to mention exactly what the sales figures are, thereby leading the average cynic to assume that there's nothing much to shout about really.
In recent months, the firm has clearly been working hard to make its mark (or is that marque?) in the motorcycling world, but as far as we can tell, it still hasn't managed to consolidate its position or identity.
In July this year, for instance, Norton appointed the Frazer Motorcycles Group as its Australia and New Zealand distributor.
Later that month, the firm launched its product in Tokyo heralding the return of Norton to Japan after thirty years in the wilderness.
In August 2013 the Germans distributors were at the factory being glad-handed and reassured that things are looking up.
In September this year, Norton completed its move into Hastings House, its new manufacturing facility (as reported in Sump March 2013) and told us that it now has "greater capacity for volume manufacturing".
And throughout all this, Norton has been hitting the redline in its attempts to stimulate interest in the potentially highly lucrative North American (and Canadian) market.
More lately, we hear that "exports are up", but without hard numbers to back the boast.
▲ Above: A nice line up of freshly built 961 Commandos, but let's have some real world sales numbers. We can take it.
However, we've been closely watching sales of second hand Garner Nortons and we can definitely say that the demand/turnover is very sluggish.
There are currently four on ebay at prices ranging from £14,499 to £17,995. They've been there since the Normans invaded and the recorded mileages range from 1 to just 553. These look like prime quality bikes, but the fish simply aren't biting. Not at those prices, anyway.
So okay the economy is still in a rut, and hoi polloi money is tight. But these motorcycles are aimed at the slightly more affluent/gainfully employed sector of the market; a market that does have the readies but is still showing only lukewarm interest in the brand.
We'd love to see the day when new Nortons are racing out of the factory gates and into the hands of desperate customers. We'd love to see these bikes bringing home the export bacon. We'd love to see the day when Triumph sits up and pays attention.
But that doesn't look like it will happen any time soon. Meanwhile, Stuart Garner might want to consider jerking the lead of his press office and providing us with some credible headlines that will help stimulate sales.
Vague claims of export growth are doing the firm more harm than good. To coin an old expression, Norton had better put up or shut up.
Are you listening, Stuart?
— The Third Man
Well they trashed Concorde, scrapped our Jump Jets, sunk our aircraft carriers, closed the mines, shut our steel works, dismembered huge tracts of our industrial architectural heritage, flogged off just about every British company that wasn't written into Magna Carta, and switched off our analogue TV signals leaving us all at the mercy of digital perdition.
So it's probably no surprise that the classic Land Rover Defender, with over 60 years of production beneath its tyres, is also for the chop. The last vehicles are due to roll off the Lode Lane, Solihull production line in 2015.
It's called progress, and we know you have to move with the times. But still, it's something of a wrench when yet another pillar of Britishness comes tumbling down.
What's that? Land Rover is actually owned by Tata, the Indian manufacturing giant and hasn't been a British firm since 1994 when British Aerospace had its hands on the wheel and flogged it to BMW? Well we know that. We also know that the Ford Motor Company took control between 2000 and 2008 after which it became an Indian take away.
Regardless, most of us still think the classic Land Rover is as British as James Bond, Dr Who and The Kinks. And now it's on borrowed time.
The marque was launched in 1948 by Rover. Maurice Wilks was the originator of the design; a man who'd been greatly impressed by the WW2-era US Jeep that he'd had some experience with. These first vehicles were the now highly prized Series I models that were superseded in 1958 by the Series II. Three years on, the Series IIA arrived, and a decade further down the line (1971) saw the introduction of the Series III. By 1976 there were one million Land Rover churning up the mud and dirt around the world.
The Land Rover Defender, which is the current keeper of the flame, began life as the 90 and 110, respectively, which appeared in 1983. But the Defender name wasn't applied until 1990.
Regardless, the lineage is so strong and obvious, most of us hardly see the difference between one model and the next. They're all just workhorse Land Rovers and arguably the world's most recognisable motor vehicle as used by farmers, the military, global trekkers, rallyists, hippies, police forces, Sloanes, royalty and an army of dedicated off-roaders and customisers.
So why are these vehicles history? Environmental and emissions regulations have been cited, but there's probably more to it than that. There usually is.
Someone might well come along and pick up where Tata is about to leave off. But as far as any British volume production is concerned, it looks like it's all over bar the shouting.
We hear that there's a new contender in training, but the classic Land Rover is going to be a tough act to follow.
— Big End