"King of Cool's" Husky at Classic Mechanics Show
Dave Aldana, Don Emde, Mert Lawwill & Gene Romero to attend
It's a 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross and it used to belong to the late "great" Steve McQueen. That's the headline story. But the underlying news is that the 23rd Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show will take place on Saturday 15th October and Sunday 16th October 2016 at Staffordshire County Showground, and the above "Husky" will be on display.
The bike, we hear, has been preserved exactly as Steve McQueen left it, which includes a couple of spare spark plugs taped to the frame, and the signatures of Bud Ekins and Chad McQueen (son of Steve) scrawled on the air box.
On 25th November 1984, four years after the "King of Cool" died, the bike was sold at the Steve McQueen Estate Auction at Imperial Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. Since then, the Husky has passed through three subsequent buyers before being acquired two years ago by the current owner (or "custodian" if you really must).
We don't have a full account of the prices paid each time the bike was moved on. But we can tell you that in May 2011 it changed hands for $144,500 (£110,925) including buyers premium.
Now, here at Sump we're frequently off-message and off-script, which is perhaps why it strikes us as a little ghoulish every time we hear about this bike being dragged out of a shed or garage and put back on the block for the next round of profit. Don't misunderstand us. Making money is fine, and we're happy to make as much as possible. But the whole this-used-to-belong-to-mcqueen-and-now-i'm-going-to-be-the-next-to-capitalise-on-it is depressing.
We're not big McQueen fans. Actually, we're not fans at all. But we've got no real grievance against the bloke either. We've just overdosed on McQueen mania and could use a break. Nevertheless, being the sentimental and romantic sods that we are, we'd like it if just for once, a more dedicated sounding McQueen fan could actually buy the bloody bike and, hell, even ride it around or something. And we figure that McQueen would approve.
But of course, at these prices that ain't likely to happen. Instead, the Husqvarna is probably going to be dragged out every so often and be displayed like Lenin's cadaver for everyone to have a good gawp before being re-sold to the next investor.
What's that? That's life? Get over it? Well yeah, we know that, and we're mostly over it already. All the same, there's a nasty aftertaste in our mouths, but probably nothing that a few beers won't put right.
Meanwhile, let's not forget Mortons, which owns the Stafford Show and sent us the press release, and is therefore expecting a little publicity payback. So here's another reminder that it's Stafford Showtime again. So expect hundreds of trade stalls and autojumble plots, a special Suzuki Village (featuring "the two RG500s which Barry Sheene powered to world championship success in 1976 and 1977"), trials demonstrations, expert advice in the Restoration Theatre, and of course the Bonhams Sale which, as ever, has some interesting lots looking for new owners.
The Husky, incidentally, was apparently bought by McQueen during the filming of On Any Sunday. And four of the faces from that near-legendary documentary (Dave Aldana, Don Emde, Mert Lawwill and Gene Romero) will be present at Stafford to field questions and tell the tales, etc.
Adult advance ticket prices are £12 for one day (£14 on the gate), and £24 for two days. Advance discount tickets are on sale until 11.59pm on Sunday 9th October 2016. The Stafford Show hours are 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm on the Sunday.
Lastly, as you pass by the McQueen Husqvarna, just make sure you remove your cap. In this world, you're supposed to show appropriate respect for the dead, and this is probably as near as any of us will ever get to this much-missed and much-respected actor who's bound to have an airport named after him sooner or later.
Philippe Guyony's 400-page Vincent tome
Published by Veloce, asking £100
We've lost count of how many words we've read on Vincent Motorcycles. 10,000? 100,000? More? Less? Meanwhile, new Vincent publications come around fairly regularly, many promising to offer more than the last, or promising to fill in the gaps, or claiming to present the subject material in a different way.
But we can't think of anything in recent years, Vincent-wise and book-wise, that's told us very much more than we already knew. Not that we're experts, mind. We read, we absorb, and we usually forget everything after the first few beers. There's a limited amount of data you can stuff in your head, huh?
But if something stands out in print, it usually stands out in our noggins. And as we said, nothing very recent has done that.
Well, Veloce Publishing has just released a new book of its own on Vincent motorcycles. The author is long-time Vincent owner, aficionado and serial blogger, Philippe Guyony (that's him immediately above).
The book is sub-headed "The Untold Story since 1946", and the marketing blurb is making a lot of bold promises and claims. But until we actually lay our hands on a copy, we'll reserve judgement. Suffice to say that it's a 400 page tome with 875 black & white/colour images, and Veloce is advertising it on its website at (gulp!) £100.
That's a heap of dosh for any book (and naturally, it's being heavily discounted in the usual monopolised corners of the market). But in our time, we have seen one or two books that really were special and worth a one and two zeros. Or thereabouts. So maybe this is one of them.
But before you decide, we've posted some more info on this book on Sump's Motorcycle News page. Check it out, and then visit Veloce's site.
Cambridgeshire auction on 12th October 2016
Tonkin Tornado estimated at £25,000 - £27,000
Patrick Godet Egli-Vincent estimated at £50,000 - £60,000
The Imperial War Museum (IWM) at Duxford, Cambridgeshire has in recent years been pretty good to H&H Auctions. For instance, last October H&H went to the IWM and flogged a couple of Ferraris with a combined value of £8.5million. And yes, you read that right; 8.5 with another five zeros tagged on. Big numbers for sure, and up there with the best of them.
And in October 2012, H&H also raised a few eyebrows when it flogged a Brough Superior motorcycle for £291,200, a bike that was once the property of George Brough himself, and later VMCC founder Titch Allen. So okay, H&H was expecting around £400,000 for those illustrious wheels. Nevertheless, the sale represents some kind of marker.
Well this year (2016). H&H is fielding a pretty convincing line-up of motorcycles, none of which sends us into a high (or even low) orbit, but one or two bikes in the catalogue are more than mildly desirable.
Take the above 1979 Harley-Davidson XLH1000 Sportster. We had one of these Ironheads when they were new, and they were pretty stupid bikes. The brakes were useless (worst we've ever squeezed). The vicious engine vibration limited excursions to maybe 50 miles max. The generator failed repeatedly. The starter demanded a 100 percent charge (as opposed to 99.9 percent) and still needed a threat with a hammer. The bike didn't handle, didn't crack it on, and flaked paint like dandruff. And if you ever took a peek in the primary case, the oil had turned to emulsion paint. But it was a pretty cool junior Hog at a time when all HDs were very rare on the street, and it attracted exactly the right kind of people (i.e. girls). Most of all, the Sporty made us feel that life was great (as opposed to today when we think life is merely tolerable, but is probably still great).
Well, this example is anticipating £6,500 - £7,500 and is listed as unregistered. We don't know actually what that means. But if the bike has never seen a licence plate, it's a snip at that price. Otherwise, it's probably a little optimistic for a used Sportster of that vintage (but might be a good investment machine). There are no further details yet, but we'll be watching this closely to see if the past thirty-odd years has been kind to these motorcycles, or whether history has no intention of rewriting itself.
In 1979, a Harley-Davidson Sportster such as this cost around £3,400 - £3,600 new. And that helps put the price of the new bikes into perspective where a 2016 883cc Iron costs around £7,500. Not bad for three and a half decades of inflation, especially when the Iron handles (reasonably well), stops (reasonably well) has a rubber-mounted engine, is equipped with a decent alternator, starts like a nagging wife, mostly keeps the oil inside, and returns reasonable performance for an air-cooled, pushrod, single-carbed, environmentally emasculated V-twin.
Beyond that, and more perhaps seriously, H&H is fielding the following:
▲ c1980 Egli-Vincent by Patrick Godet. H&H is expecting to sell this 1,000cc Vinnie for between £50,000 and £60,000. And if you don't fancy blue, there's a near identical one on offer in black.
▲ 2004 Matchless 500cc G50 Beale Replica. In classic racing circles, these lightweight bikes are still contenders. And so they should be. George Beale is an ex-Isle of Man TT winner and a master builder. No details on this bike yet. But that looks like a Ceriani fork up front, and a 6-speed gear cluster in a magnesium case is de rigueur. The estimate is £25,000 - £27,000 which looks about right.
▲ 2011 500cc Tonkin Tornado. Molnar frame. Fontana front wheel. If you're looking for a street legal Manx Norton, Steve Tonkin could be the bloke to talk to. Check YouTube for a video of either this bike, or one that's very similar. The estimate has been posted at £25,000 - £27,000. The ultimate British cafe racer? Maybe.
▲ We also like this diminutive 1959 250cc BSA C15S. It sits just right. It looks like easy-going, backroad fun. And C15s generally have a nice, unfussed feel. But in the current market, the £5,500 - £6,500 estimate looks a little strong. Hard to see it fetching anything above £4,000.
You can find The Imperial War Museum at Duxford at the Cambrigeshire end of the M11 motorway around 55 miles north of London. Here's a postcode: CB22 4QR. Great place for a motorcycle auction. Hundreds of classic/WW2 aircraft on display.
The 1979 Ironhead Sportster didn't sell
The c1980 Godet-Vincents didn't sell
The 2004 Matchless G50 Beale replica didn't sell
The 2011 Tonkin Tornado was apparently withdrawn, so no sale
The BSA C15 didn't sell
New law on 20/11/2016
£58 fine for non compliance
We figured that a diving helmet was an equally appropriate (and more amusing) image for this news story as say, a pair of motorcycle gloves.
That's because the same logic must apply to swimmers and divers as it does to motorcyclists. Meaning that if you're going to ride a bike at any kind of speed, you really ought to wear hand protection of some kind. Likewise, if you're going to splash around in any kind of deep water, you probably ought to wear a diving helmet. Or a snorkel. Or an aqualung. Or a nose clip. Or water wings. Or all of the above.
But should any of these items be compulsory? We don't think so. But the French government evidently does. That's why from 20th November 2016, EVERYONE in France who rides a motorcycle, moped, trike or quadricycle will be compelled to wear hand protection. No ifs. No buts. And that applies to pillions.
If you refuse or forget, the gendarmes will present you with a €68 fine (£58), and you'll cop one point on your driving/riding licence (and God only knows what the froggy rozzers will do if they catch you wearing a burka and no gloves).
French biker groups such as the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC) have naturally thrown up their hands in despair and are looking at ways of fighting this stupid law. Generally speaking, the FFMC feel that wearing gloves is perfectly acceptable and even desirable. And most of their members do. But as ever, it's the compulsory aspect that rankles. That's why they're now showing the French government the finger. Actually eight fingers and a couple of thumbs.
So what can you do about it? Probably not much. Or if it really bothers you, and if you want to ride gloveless for some reason, just play the game and pay the fine if and when you're apprehended. Alternately, if you're not a French resident, just avoid France. Fortunately, touring the country isn't compulsory. Yet.
We don't have details about what kind of gloves are being mandated. Shorties? Gauntlets? Mittens? Armoured? Cotton? Chain mail? But we're assuming that fingerless gloves are a no-no.
But why is the French government doing this? Probably simply as a bit of national window dressing to bolster their road safety credentials and show that they're on the case. And maybe there's a pinch of ordinary Gallic perversity in the mix too.
Can't be long now until all French citizens are compelled to wear Day-Glo clothing at night, parachutes on aircraft, ear plugs at rock concerts, sun block on the beach, and condoms at every conceivable opportunity.
Mixed results for Bonhams at New Bond Street, London sale
Many bikes fail to reach their lower estimate
The top selling motorcycle lots at the recent Robert White Collection Sale (Monday 19th September 2016) was jointly achieved by the (immediately above) 1951 Vincent Series C Black Shadow (Lot 564), and a c1921 640cc Megola Touring Model (Lot 610, see further below). Both machines are listed as selling at £82,140, including buyers premium.
"Listed as?" We're simply being cautious here because there looks like one or two inconsistencies on the Bonhams web site that we're still exploring. So as ever, we're stating no more than we know, or believe to be true.
The Shadow was estimated at £50,000 - £70,000, so it comfortably achieved this and more. The late Robert White (see Sump Classic Bike News June 2016) bought the Vincent in 2009 at the Bonhams Stafford Sale. Until that time, we understand that the bike had been in the same family for 46 years, which is an amusing way of disguising the true number of owners (four are listed on the V5). The bike is reported to be in original condition and will require re-commissioning.
Moving on, the (immediately above) radial-engined 640cc Megola was the brainchild of Fritz Cockerell. It was produced in Germany between 1921 and 1925. With no clutch and no transmission, this innovative motorcycle was designed to be started on the stand, and then pushed away taking it from zero-mph all the way to around seventy—although a racing version managed to hit a creditable 85mph.
The frame was essentially a riveted and welded steel box within which (at the business end) resided the fuel tank. The fuel was pumped to a header tank located on the right side of the front fork, and from there found its way into the engine via gravity.
With leaf spring suspension front and rear, the Megola ride was said to be very comfortable, but the torquey engine mounted within the front wheel provided for some interesting and idiosyncratic handling quirks, not least due to the inherent gyroscopic effect. Nevertheless, it was a machine that could be mastered by the stubborn. Megola produced around 2,000 examples. Fifteen original bikes are known to be in existence, with possibly another eight replicas either on the road/museums/sheds, or being built.
This circa-1921 Touring Model was built four year ago and is based upon a genuine Megola engine found in Brno, Czech Republic. The carburettor and magneto, we understand, are also original. The lighting is courtesy of Lucas. But the frame is a replica.
The purchase price of this machine is said to be €180,000 (unless we're reading this all wrong). Bonhams mooted an estimate of £120,000 - £140,000. But on the day, the hammer fell at just £82,140. The sale included numerous restoration photographs, photocopied literature, starting instructions, and the purchase invoice.
Meanwhile, an MV Agusta 500cc 4-cylinder Grand Prix recreation (image immediately above) was expected to achieve £70,000-£90,000, but it sold for just £48,300; well below bottom estimate.
Another MV Agusta, this being a 500cc 3-cylinder Grand Prix recreation (Lot 596), carried an estimate of £80,000-£100,000, but didn't sell.
Beyond that, this 1974 750cc Ducati SS (Lot 574, image immediately above) was expected to find £60,000 - £70,000. But the Duke sold for £52,900, once again below its lower estimate.
The (immediately) above 1,301cc Henderson KJ Four safely achieved its estimate of £35,000 - £40,000 and sold for £40,250. Other American bikes in the sale included:
1920 Ace Four (Lot 569) £49,450
1929 Henderson Streamline Four (Lot 570) £48,300
1940 Indian Four (Lot 571), £40,250
1940 Indian Four (Lot 600) £44,850
1947 Indian (Lot 601) £26,450
1940 Indian Scout (Lot 602) £20,700
And we can't close this news feature without mentioning the (immediately) above Egli Vincent (Lot 582, listed as a 1968/2004 model). It sold for a very creditable £55,200.
We're still awaiting a press release from Bonhams providing greater insight into the sale (which included cameras and motorcars). But certainly, the motorcycle side of this auction looks a little disappointing. If our assessment is correct, it all adds further weight to the suspicion (and it is more a suspicion than a conviction) that the classic bike market is beginning to contract significantly, albeit with some notable highs and gains.
Best not take anything for granted for the foreseeable future, as if any of you ever did...
Martin uninjured in high speed mishap
Racer hits 274mph
Serial speedster Guy Martin once again flirted dangerously with his death wish when, on 18th September 2016, he crashed his Triumph Infor Rocket streamliner at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah bringing an end to his 400mph record breaking attempt. Luckily, he was uninjured. He's already hit 274.2mph on practice runs, which leaves him with around 125mph left to find.
It's not clear what happens now, suffice to say that Martin will no doubt be up and running at the next possible opportunity. The current record stands at 373.63. See Sump Motorcycle News, August 2016 for more on this obsessive exercise in human folly.
"£22,000" top prize on offer
1950 Norton ES2 runner up prize
The National Motorcycle Museum (NMM) is raffling the (immediately) above 1990 588cc F1 Norton in its Summer Raffle (May 2016 - Oct 2016). The draw for this "£22,000" bike will take place on Saturday 5th November 2016 during the Museum Live open day.
Second prize is a 1950 500cc Norton ES2 (image immediately above) which is said to be fully restored and with matching numbers.
Third prize is the usual "luxury classic weekend" at the Windmill Village Hotel which is about six miles from the NMM. Exactly how much more luxurious this is when compared to, say, your cosy front room with your own bed upstairs hasn't been made clear. But it's the thought that counts.
As ever the price of the tickets didn't come down the wire with the press release. But it's probably £2 (we did phone the NMM to check, but typically, no one answered the phone). If you want to try your luck, the contact details are below. The raffle is open only to UK residents.
Lastly, is it smart to raffle two Nortons when there are all those AMC, Ariel, BSA, Triumph and Vincent boys out there, etc? You tell us. That aside, prizes one and two look like a pretty good return for a couple of quid, and someone's gonna get them.
Telephone: 01675 444123
UPDATE: The Norton F1 was won by Mr David Schofield of County Durham. The ticket number was: 1015193. The second prize, a 1951 500cc Norton ES2, went to Mr Colin Hodgkins of Staffordshire. The ticket number was: 1603567.
New creation from Suffolk custom bike builder
400cc Yamaha single
Alec Sharpe and Rafe Pugh have been up to their stylish old tricks again. We've tried many times to stop 'em, but boys will be boys—and the custom bike boys will be boysier. Come and take a look at their latest creation and see if it does it for you. [Old Empire Motorcycles Snipe...]
Top British sci-fi movie review
Edward Judd, Leo McKern and Janet Munro star
This item comes under the sub-heading; "Movies we love". And, more specifically: "Classic British movies we love." We watched it last night, and we're thinking of watching it again this evening. And if there's nothing much happening during the week, who knows?
Why? Because we think this is one of the all time great sci-fi/doomsday movies, not least because it gives us another chance to ogle Janet Munro who gets top billing on the poster, but actually plays a supporting role.
The star is unequivocally Edward Judd who turned up in the odd episode of The Avengers, The Sweeney and The Professionals, but is probably best remembered from The First Men in the Moon, 1964, an adaptation of the 1901 HG Wells story of the same name.
The plot to The Day the Earth Caught Fire is simple enough; Russian and American scientists have detonated test atom bombs on their respective sides of the world. That's knocked the planet out of kilter leading to freak weather conditions and a total shift in the meteorological patterns.
Worse still, things are heating up, both literally and metaphorically for Judd, who plays jaded journo Peter Stenning, a man whose personal and professional lives are in tatters. Then along comes Janet Munro, as Jeannie Craig, to add a love interest (and a fair amount of flesh). It's getting very hot and misty outside, and it's definitely getting steamy in Jeannie's flat.
▲ Edward Judd and Janet Munro in The Day the Earth Caught Fire. Sadly, Munro died aged just 38. But Edward Judd (who, interestingly, was born in Shanghai) reached the respectable age of 76 and died in 2009.
What makes the film especially interesting is that the plot is set around old Fleet Street, one-time heartland of Britain's newspaper industry. As a glimpse into the machinations of the Daily Express HQ, this movie is hard to match let alone beat. To add authenticity, real life and near legendary Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen plays editor "Jeff" Jefferson. So okay, Christiansen's acting is klunky and he delivers his lines like a speak-your-weight machine. But magically, he gets away with it all and is totally convincing.
Meanwhile, actor and national British treasure (albeit Australian born) Leo McKern (aka Rumpole of the Bailey) plays Bill Maguire, a time-served, competent, pragmatic and reliable old news hack and Peter Stenning's only friend. Between the two men the drama unfolds and we learn that the Earth's nutation (periodic variation of the axis) has been shifted catastrophically. It's going to get warmer and warmer until everyone fries.
The only hope for mankind is that the detonation of more A-bombs, in exactly the right place, will set things right. We could give away the ending, but we ain't going to. And we ain't gonna tell you why, either. Either you already know, or you're going to enjoy it for yourself when you watch it for the first time.
As a glimpse of old London in the very early 1960s just before "the sixties" really kicked off, this movie is wonderfully evocative. There's footage of Battersea Fun Fair (which will be well remembered by many rockers); Chelsea Bridge (another classic rocker haunt); Ludgate Circus; Trafalgar Square; Parliament Square; the old Daily Express building; Whitehall; numerous shots of the London skyline and embankment; and always the river Thames on call.
▲ Edward Underdown, Edward Judd, Leo McKern and Arthur Christiansen discuss the strange meteorological changes that are warming up the Daily Express news room. Underdown was said to be writer Ian Fleming's choice for James Bond. Producer Albert R Broccoli disagreed.
But once again, it's the insights into the Fleet Street press rooms during the exciting hot metal era that make this film work so well. It's gritty, authentic, punishing and atmospheric.
The budget for the film was £200,000; a respectable amount for 1961. The director was Val Guest who also directed The Quatermass Experiment, 1955; Quatermass 2, 1957; Expresso Bongo, 1959; and a couple of dozen other films and TV show episodes. Prolific writer and Bethnal Green boy Wolf Mankowitz penned the screenplay.
There's an amusing cameo of an early Michael Caine playing a uniformed policeman directing traffic, and more acting support comes courtesy of Bernard Braden (remember him, anyone?), John Barron (who plays "CJ" in The Rise and Fall of Reggie Perrin), and Reginald Beckwith (playing the matrimonially challenged publican in the Fleet Street bar).
Yes, there are flaws in the movie. The plot is a little unlikely (although it would have been perfectly believable in 1961 when the power of atomic energy was yet to be fully understood by the public). The action slows a little in places, notably when the director exposes Jeannie's charms (at least as far as the censor would allow) and probes Stenning's domestic problems. And Edward Judd, arguably being more suited to light comic-drama roles, is a little wooden in his performance.
But the dialogue is sharp and incisive. The tension builds believably. The special effects, although often commented on as nothing special, are wonderful (especially the shot of the dried up Thames). And there are any number of social and political themes intertwined in the tale.
For us, it's Leo McKern who adds the necessary gravitas to this movie. Take him out, and we'd give this flick six out of ten. But with him in the frame, this movie gets a nine. And a bit.
£119 budget riding gear
"Heavy duty" brown wax cotton and moleskin
Speedwear has sent us details of its new Dark Brown wax cotton motorcycle jacket. We haven't actually seen this product in the cloth. Therefore everything we tell you is simply what Speedwear told us.
So here goes...
It's made from "heavy duty twelve ounce brown wax cotton". It's clearly styled along traditional lines, but it's not a three-quarter jacket. It's a shorty designed to fit just over your waistline. There's brown moleskin at the cuffs and collar—and take note that this moleskin has nothing whatsoever to do with a mole, except that it looks and feels like the hide of one of your least favourite garden mammals (it's actually cotton).
The lining is tartan. There's an inside zip pocket. The cuffs have storm flaps. There's a brass zipper and brass roller buckles. You can fit armour if you're a cissy (or you can risk breaking the odd bone like real men). There's the usual reinforced areas here and there. There's a removable pile liner. And the jacket is supplied with "interchangeable flags on the pocket to suit geographic location". We (still) don't know what that's all about, but we're just plebs and have gaping holes in our general and biking knowledge. But it probably means something to someone.
Overall, it look like a fairly decent bit of clobber, especially when you factor in the price which is £119. Sizes are S to XXL.
Corporate criminals targeted with proposed new offences
Worrying implications for British citizens
The British government is said to be looking at a new law aimed at kneecapping white collar crime which is annually costing the economy millions whilst occasionally even threatening the stability of the entire national banking, insurance and related finance industry.
Also referred to as corporate crime, the range of white collar offences includes everything from simple embezzlement, to insider trading, to tax evasion, to creative accounting, to Ponzi schemes (paying dividends to existing investors with monies raised from new investors), to common or garden variety fraud and corruption dodges.
Specifically, the new (mooted) law is intended to make failure to report a (white collar crime) an offence. As it stands, there are few hard statutes compelling bank managers, secretaries, company chairmen, directors and similar to point the finger at whoever's got their fingers in the petty cash, or shifting unusually large sums around the globe. In fact, the existing laws relate only to bribery.
But if the new laws, now being drafted under the Criminal Finance Bill (2016) get the green light, that will change and in due course various (white) collars are likely to get felt. In theory, anyway.
So should you be concerned? Not yet perhaps. But there are a couple of points worth noting. Firstly, such laws could be perilously hard (and expensive) to enforce thereby resulting in an increased burden on all such corporate firms which will inevitably see their costs passed down the food chain to we little people.
Secondly, the suggestion is that there's no point having the home team play fair if the away teams are playing dirty and committing professional fouls. And in the global village, practically all the teams are away teams.
Thirdly, it's inevitable that when the $#!t hits the fan, someone's going to have to carry the burden, and that's as likely to be the weakest link in the chain as the masterminds who originally forged the illegal scheme.
Lastly, such laws would shift the burden of law enforcement from the state to the company and even to the corporate individual thereby helping absolve the government/police/etc of any responsibility, whilst still leaving them with the ultimate power of reprisal (which is never a healthy arrangement).
Moreover, if such laws are introduced, it would undoubtedly help soften us up for other laws compelling us to police our neighbours, which few of us are equipped to do, and which few of us want to do, and which further erodes the necessary demarcation line between the government and the private citizen.
British citizens are already living in a new socio-legal paradigm in which the right to silence has effectively been removed; that is to say, the refusal of an accused to respond to police questions can now be referenced in a criminal trial (as opposed to the laws existing prior to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which made such reference inadmissible).
British citizens are also now expected to assess, collect and return their own taxes whilst refraining from doing anything to minimise their financial burden (even when such machinations are entirely legal).
British motorists have long since largely accepted the notion that they can be fined purely by number plate evidence captured by a roadside camera thereby leaving them guilty until proved innocent.
Since 2010, a precedent was set depriving British citizens the right to trial by jury in a criminal matter (following jury tampering, a trial was heard only by a judge with no jury present, and the accused were duly convicted).
Beyond that, DNA, fingerprint and photographic information is now routinely collected and stored, with photographs being used by the police on digital line-ups, even when the arrested suspect was released without charge, or was discharged by the courts. And the thorny spectre of identity cards has never been totally exorcised.
Meanwhile, in various countries around the world, private citizens are now obliged to carry breathalysers in their vehicles, and there is talk in some think tank circles suggesting that such a law should be introduced here. For starters.
What it ultimately means is that the line between the politicians, the judiciary, the law enforcers, the revenue collectors and Joe Public is further blurred leaving us all in a kind of modern self-criminalising, self-policing, self-convicting, and self-sanctioning society more akin to a socialist state than a mature western democracy.
Worried? Maybe you should be. A little, anyway.
Robert White Collection Sale by Bonhams
19th September 2016, New Bond Street, London
The perfect pre-war British motorcycle? We think so. At least, that's what we're thinking today. Tomorrow, of course, it might be different. It certainly was different yesterday. But right now, on this sunny September afternoon, with the average UK temperature in the high teens or low twenties, we're looking at this beautiful 500cc (actually 498cc) Tiger 100 and thinking that if we had to pick a single motorcycle upon which to pootle around on what's left of this green and pleasant land, we'd probably pick this bike.
The 63mm x 80mm, Triumph Tiger 100 was the sporting version of the seminal Speed Twin that was revealed in 1937 and first sold in 1938. The idea behind the "100" was simple; to create a motorcycle that could be ridden to work five days a week, and on Saturdays or Sundays be quickly converted into a racing steed.
That was why the cylinder head ports were expertly polished. That was why the engine internals were also polished. That was why the pistons were forged high-compression slippers (as opposed the 5T's full skirt items), up from 7.2:1 to 8:1. That was why the silencers were, via detachable end-caps, quickly converted into megaphones.
Other distinguishing features include (but are not limited to) narrower rubber-mounted handlebars, a friction-damped throttle twist grip, a larger oil tank (1.2 gallons instead of 6-pints), a slightly stronger crank, and plenty of extra chrome. New diecast tank badge were also introduced thereby replacing the 5Ts embossed badges.
▲ 1939 Triumph Tiger 100 aluminium-bronze cylinder head. The valves hammered directly into the bronze rather than into valve seats. How many of these heads survive isn't known. But it can't be more than a handful or so. Or can it? Tell us please if you know.
The original 5T Speed Twin featured six studs on the cylinder base. That arrangement certainly worked well enough on a road bike, but it wasn't ideal. The joint was weaker, and oil leaks weren't uncommon. So by '39, that design had been upgraded to eight studs, which is how it was on the first Tiger twins.
The Tiger 100 didn't appear until 1939, and it disappeared when WW2 kicked off. The launch price was around £80. Post war (1946), the T100, now fitted with a telescopic front fork, returned with the price massively hiked to around £180. Understandably, very few were sold in near bankrupt Britain.
Performance-wise, the 5T was no slow poke. On a good day Edward Turner's illustrious parallel twin, could hit around 85 - 90mph. But the Tiger 100 pushed that Smiths needle a little further around the clock to the "magic ton". The 5T was said to be good for 26hp @ 6,000rpm. But the T100 claimed around 34hp @ 7,000rpm.
To further warm up this factory hot rod, an aluminium-bronze cylinder head was an optional extra costing another £5 (roughly one-to-two week's wages for the average UK working man). And that's what makes the above motorcycle so unique. The 1939 Tiger 100 is rare enough, but that race-bred head, designed for better heat dissipation than the standard cast iron 5T Speed Twin item, makes it just that little bit more special.
Handling at high speed, however, was far from perfect. Yes, the Tiger had been created with an updated Speed Twin frame that gave it extra trail. That increased straight-line stability. But it wasn't really enough. However, despite its skittishness on hard bends, the Tiger gave the rider plenty of feedback as opposed to suddenly breaking away. It was largely a case of the devil you know...
Meanwhile, both bikes ran Amal carburettors (up from 15/16th on the 5T to 1-inch on the T100). Both bikes ran Lucas magdynos. Both ran 20-inch wheels (3.25 and 3.50, respectively). Both ran Triumph girder forks. Both ran 7-inch brakes front and rear (with concomitant extra engine braking on the Tiger).
To make the bike visually distinct, Triumph painted it silver, as opposed to the 5T's Amaranth Red.
Bonhams will be selling this restored motorcycle on 19th September 2016 as part of the Robert White Collection. The sale will take place at Bonhams' HQ in Bond Street, London. The estimate is *£10,000 - £15,000. Normally we'd say that this is right on the nose. And normally Bonhams gets it right. But lately things have been looking as shaky as a T100 frame. We've seen some large price falls of classic bikes with regard to private sales, trade sales, and auction sales.
Then again, we've also seen some huge and unexpected jumps (witness the recent Triumph Hurricane X-75 that sold for just shy of thirty grand). Generally, the classic bike market has been a little volatile for a while. But currently, we wouldn't advise that you smoke anywhere near it until the fumes clear.
See Sump Magazine's Speed Twin and Tiger 100 Buyers Guide
*UPDATE: The Tiger 100 sold for £23,000
Wyatt Earp TV actor dies aged 81
Actor starred with John Wayne in The Shootist
He was the last man killed by the late, great John Wayne; on screen that is. But most of the world will remember him best, if at all, as the man who took the lead role in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, the US TV western series that ran between 1956 and 1962. We're talking about actor Hugh O'Brian who has died aged 91, which in our book is pretty good shooting.
Until The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, it's said that TV westerns such as The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid were always aimed at kids. But O'Brian's Wyatt Earp introduced a new adult TV component to the genre and helped cement the image of the clean-cut legendary marshall with his black frock coat, gold brocade waistcoat, flat brimmed had, stringed tie—and a pair a six guns strapped to his thighs.
The real Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) was a highly dubious character who was apt to operate on both sides of the law when the occasion suited him. But there was little, or nothing dubious about O'Brian. He was born Hugh Charles Krampe in Rochester, New York with Irish, French and German in his blood. During his youth, his family were on the move many times as his father struggled to make a living as a salesman. Eventually the Krampes settled in Chicago.
He was studying at the University of Cincinnati when WW2 broke out. He joined the US Marines, served as a drill sergeant and was demobbed in 1945. Amusingly, the man who would later play the most famous frontier lawman of them all intended to study law and had set his gun sights on Yale. But instead, he drifted into acting and took on a variety of mundane jobs to pay for drama lessons.
Originally he was professionally billed as Jaffer Gray, but later changed his billing to Hugh O'Brian (having misspelled his mother's maiden name of O'Brien). His movie career began with Never Fear (1950) which saw Universal take a liking to him. He was, after all, tall, clean cut, rugged looking and handsome. He had presence too and the camera "liked him". Another 18 movies soon came his way, films in which he played both good and bad guys, and guys who, liked Wyatt Earp, were often somewhere in between.
▲ Hugh O'Brian as Jack Pulford in The Shootist. In the film, Pulford/O'Brian was terminally plugged by John Wayne, but he outlived The Duke by forty years. Interesting how fact and fiction blurs the comfortable truths in life.
Then ABC-TV came along looking for a guy to clean up Tombstone, Arizona Territory in a new TV series, and the consultant to that series promptly nominated O'Brian. Two hundred episodes later, having sorted out the Clantons, the McLaurys and Bill Claiborne at the OK Corral (with the help of brothers Morgan and Virgil, and of course the equally dubious dentist Doc Holliday) O'Brien was one of the most familiar faces on TV and became something of a sex symbol; a kind of Clint Eastwood, 1950s style.
O'Brian later starred with John Wayne in The Shootist (1976), Guns of Paradise (1990, another Wyatt Earp story), The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991) and Wyatt Earp: Return to Tombstone (1994).
Clearly, the legendary ghost of the frontier marshall had to a greater or lesser degree typecast O'Brian. But he was more than a celluloid cowboy. He also founded the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) development programme; a non-profit organisation inspired by the missionary Dr Albert Schweitzer (who O'Brian once met). It's said that more than 355,000 young people in 20 countries have benefitted from the scheme.
Hugh O'Brian married for the first time in 2006 at the age of 81. He and wife (Virginia Barber) had been together for many years and finally tied the knot. He survived for another ten years before time took its toll.
He was never the best of the best of his profession, but he was a long way from the worst. Overall, Hugh O'Brian was a reliable and focussed leading man, and a solid and dependable supporting actor.
His fame and celebrity is now rapidly fading (less so in the USA than here in the UK). But we can remember him just a while longer.
25th September 2016
24,120 riders in 24 countries
One of the perversely satisfying things about getting older is the steady and very deliberate disengagement from popular modern culture.
We've never seen that Strictly Dancing show thingy, for instance. We've no idea who the bloody Kardashians are. And until we downloaded an image from the Distinguished Gents website, we couldn't have picked out Don Draper from a police line up if he was the only bloke in it (see image on the right).
But apparently, he was in some TV show called Mad Men (whatever that is), and he wore a suit and sat on a classic bike or something, and now he's a minor world icon. Consequently, other contemporary blokes want to emulate him, and .... well, beyond that we don't really know what the hell is going on. And we're trying hard not to know, hence the perverse pleasure we're taking these days in matters of cultural isolation (as mentioned above, etc).
▲ This is typical of the kind of bike you'll want to be seen straddling on the Distinguished Gentlemans Ride. It's classic, custom and eye-catching. But we figure that any two wheels will do if you otherwise look the part.
Anyway, the next Distinguished Gentlemans Ride, which is somehow related to all this, kicks off on 25th September 2016, and the organisation is looking for more riders. Ostensibly, the idea behind the event is to raise money for men's health charities. But as ever, it's really just an excuse to dress up in tweeds, grow a handlebar moustache, chug on a pipe and ham it up for whoever happens to be watching. The charity stuff is, as usual, an afterthought.
Still, we've got an interest in men's health (in a low key, cough-cough, let's-not-actually-discuss-it kinda way). So good luck to 'em if they manage to raise some more dosh. We'd take part ourselves, you understand, but there's no way that anyone would mistake us for gentlemen, or ladies. And besides, we've got deep-seated misgivings about self-stereotyping, and we're consciously resisting the trained dog ethic.
▲ Apparently, there are now distinguished ladies on the ride. We don't mind, except that part of the aim of this event, as conceived by Australian founder Mark Hawwa, was to improve the image of blokes on bikes.
▲ Here's another Distinguished Lady, and mercifully she ain't got a moustache. Some would say that this event is really just about trying to look cool, which, of course, is about as uncool as it gets.
However, if you want to take part, there are dress codes (naturally), and you'll need to be riding a classic bike, or a brat bike, or a chopper, or a cafe racer, or similar. The event is sponsored by Triumph Motorcycles (who we have heard of), and Zenith Watches (who we've also heard of, but confused with the carburettor manufacturer), and Hedon helmets (who we upset when we expressed a view about the firm's product), and Undandy (who we've never heard of).
At the time of writing, there are 24,120 riders in dozens of countries, and you could be the next on the list. So far, around $1,000,000 has been raised. But the target is $5,000,000. Wanna be a part of this?
ECER22-05 & DOT FMVSS No 218 certification
Priced between £250 and £320
Ambition is a wonderful thing. And a realised ambition is even more wonderful, which is why Davida is pleased to announce a road legal version of its Speedster crash helmet which gets its first airing at Intermot in Cologne on 5th - 9th October 2016.
The Speedster is 26 years old. It's a great looking lid built to a very high specification. In fact, as far as we're concerned, it's always been as good as, or even better than any other open-faced lid on the market. But that all-important road-legal certification has been absent.
Until now. Well, soon...
From 2017 you'll be able to pop one of these on your noggin' safe in the knowledge that the appropriate bureaucrats have stamped it fit for road-going purposes, etc. The specific certification is ECER22-05 & DOT FMVSS No 218. But what that gobbledegook means is that these helmets will put you on the right side of the law when on the street.
Davida call it the Speedster V3, which could be Version 3 or Victory 3, or maybe something more esoteric. We're told that it's got the same low profile composite shell as before, but the manufacturing process has been improved or something. The liner is leather, and you can opt for black, brown or (perhaps appropriately) nut brown.
The lid will be available in 3 shell sizes and 6 helmet sizes from XS (54) to XXL (61). If you want to fit a visor or a peak, you can ask for studs. But it seems a shame to poke holes in this thing just so you can see where the hell you're going.
There's no price yet. But the current Speedster is usually somewhere between £250 and £320. The V3 lid won't be available until 2017, but you can send Davida an email or something and reserve yours. It should be available at most Davida dealers around the world, or buy direct from the Wirral, Merseyside-based manufacturer.
Finally, keep in mind if you will that Davida is a British firm. So buy British whenever you can, etc, especially if you're American (we need to claw back some of those dollars that Google, Amazon, Walmart, ExxonMobil, General Motors, Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, Ford, PayPal et al keep taking from us. What comes around has to go around).
Check this link for more on Davida.
Top Suffolk motorcycle show
If you're in the neighbourhood of Ipswich, Suffolk (and as far as we're concerned the whole country and a large chunk of Europe is in the neighbourhood) you've got just over four weeks to prepare for the October 2016 Copdock Show.
If you've already visited this extravaganza, you don't need us to tell you what a great day out it is. And if you haven't visited, considered yourself now told. Organised by the excellent Copdock Classic Motorcycle Club, this is by far one of the best shows in the country.
Let's repeat that: This is by far one of the best shows in the country.
Why? Because of the range of entertainment, the quality of the autojumble pitches, the size of the venue, the number of custom, classic and performance bikes on display, the beer, the real ale, the club village, and the general vibe. Last time we went, we had to be dragged out by our ankles. It's a family event, but it ain't all bouncy castles and candyfloss. This is an event for bikers young and old, in spirit if not in body.
And then there are the Suffolk skies which, for some odd meteorological reason, have a special quality (spend some time in that neck of the woods and you'll see exactly what we mean).
▲ Fancy a Triumph Bonnie flat tracker? Well this one (shown here being prepared) is being raffled in aid of The Nook, a children's hospice in Norfolk. 2016 is the 25th anniversary of the Copdock Show, and the prize is intended to mark the moment whilst also doing something for the kids. Look out for tickets at the event. Don't be mean. This is England.
This year's show, as before, is sponsored by CAM Rider. Confirmed attractions include:
Dougie Lampkin MBE
2 Bros +1 Stunt Team
Moto-Stunts International (MSI)
Ken Fox's Wall of Death
Vintage Speedway Cavalcade
The Custom Marquee for "All things custom"
Classic Pre 65 Scramble Bike Cavalcade
Guest of Honour, Jim Redman MBE
Advance tickets are £8.50. On the gate you'll pay a tenner. Accompanied under 14s go free.
If you're looking to rent an autojumble pitch or fancy bringing the club along, contact the organisers.
Unless there's an earthquake on the day (which ain't likely in Suffolk) the chances are that you'll come away with some great memories—and possibly the above Triumph custom if your luck's in.
Go to Copdock.
500cc sidevalve twin asking big money
Ex-Canadian military bike
The mileage is said to be just 214. It's claimed to have had just one owner from new since 1956. It looks in perfect condition. It's unrestored. It's a greatly underrated and overlooked bike. It was built for the Canadian Army. And it's now back here in Blighty.
£10,000 is the asking price, which makes this the most expensive 500cc TRW sidevalve twin we've ever seen, or ever heard of. Normally, we'd be inclined to think that the seller is a hopeless dreamer. But we're not so sure lately. Classic bike prices are still fluctuating wildly—as witnessed by the Triumph Hurricane X-75 further down this page which, we understand, has just been sold for £29,995 (also via eBay).
The seller of this TRW is Millennium Motorcycles in St Helens, Merseyside. The firm's eBay name is: motorcyclefinder. The bike is on a classified advert, so there's no bidding. You either buy it at the seller's price, or you don't buy it (or you can call them on: 03309 005191 and make an offer).
Today's date, by the way, is: Tuesday 30th August 2016.
If you want to read more on the Triumph TRW, check the link you've just passed. Somewhere on Sump we've posted a buyers guide on this wonderful motorcycle.
There are plenty of spares around. They motor along very nicely. They sound pleasant enough. And we'd be very happy to own one, but not at ten grand.