July 2013  Classic bike news



Above: BSA G13/33 from the stable of Suffolk-based dealer Andy Tiernan. This 1933 985cc 3-speed, hand-change, V-twin sidevalve was once a Dublin police bike and is now looking for a new home. The price is £20,000, which is about on the mark these days for
pre-war flathead BSA twins, and similar. And demand is high. So if you want a shot at it, talk to Andy poste haste and cut a deal. And remember that Andy Tiernan doesn't just sell bikes. He buys them too. For UK buyers, this bike is road tax free, and MOT free, which naturally make life that much easier.


June 2013 Classic bike news

Roger LaVern: 1937 - 2013
2012 UK road deaths and injury figures
Cheffins fairground biker: £1100
Brake lights that see round the bend
Bonhams' 2013 Banbury highlights
New police powers and penalties
Bonhams & Banbury 2013 reminder
Cafe Racer Festival at Montlhery
Dirt Quake II
Historics at Brooklands results
Cameras to monitor cycle boxes?
Peter Williams £65,000 replica

May 2013 Classic bike news

TT rider Yoshinari Matsushita killed

2013 Brighton Speed Trials cancelled

Ton-Up Day 14th July 2013

Johnny "Chester" Dowling's
getting his kicks again

87 bikes for Historics at Brooklands

Sump seizes Kempton trader's stock

Welcome to classic Britain

DomiRacer liquidated and set for auction

Ray "Doors" Manzarek: 1939-2013

Indian's "sneak peek" at the Chief

Streetfighters magazine closes after 22 years

Bruce Main-Smith stops trading

Bike Shed custom bike exhibition

AJS-Matchless Club draw 2013

Bryan Forbes: 1926 - 2013

Watsonian-Squire Open Weekend

Call to lower the legal age of consent to 13

Royal Enfield's new UK home

April 2013 Classic bike news

Genuine Sump T-Shirt back in stock

VMCC Jan-Jun 2013 Velocette raffle

Storm conversion for XS650 Yams

Drive it Day for classic cars and bikes

Petition to ban mobile phone drivers

£246,400 Vincent; £246,400 Brough

Royal change to the laws of succession

Margaret Thatcher: 1925-2013

Ex-McQueen Indian Model F to sell

Eric's Cafe Racer Corner

Peter "Pip" Harris: 1927-2013

Pendine Sands Speed Trials 22/23 June 2013

Dr James "JK" Kelly Swanston: 1908-2013

Mortons buys Normous Newark

March 2013 Classic bike news
2013 Pioneer Run snowed and iced off

Dambuster charity motorcycle ride

One hundred cafe racers wanted

Hide your classic, and go to jail

Eddie Presbury "cheap" bike art

Norton acquires Donington Hall

James Herbert: 1943-2013

1973: New cut-off date for "historics"

Triumph T140D floating disc from
Norman Hyde

Rare Brough Superior BS4 to sell

First Vincent Lightning also to sell

British justice for sale, says Grayling

Indian reveals new 111-inch engine

Yamaha Bolt challenge to Triumph?

Triumph still in the number one spot

February 2013 Classic bike news

£6975 Triumph Tiger Cub, sold!
Ray "Dalek" Cusick: 1928-2013
Triumph Speed Triple R "Dark"
Despatches. Free eBook from Sump
Bonhams' Grand Palais "success"
Le breathalyser fines "postponed"
Government set to scrap 80mph speed limit hike plan
Driving test interpreters for the chop?
Reg "Wild Thing" Presley: 1941-2013
Bonhams Paris Grand Palais Sale 2013
New licence withdrawal powers

January 2013 Classic bike news

Freddie Williams: 1926-2013
Where's the Gaffer's Gallop film?
Andy Tiernan's ebay warning
2013 Triumph Rocket 3 Roadster
Insulting to be made legal again
One hundred years of Aston Martin
$480,000 1939 BMW Rennsport
Burtons' Triumph TRW register
James Austin's Classic Shows
Winter Restoration Show 2012
2013 Triumph Tiger Sports 1050
Winter Classic Bike Guide Show

December 2012 Classic bike news

Royal Enfield Musket revamped
Gerry Anderson: 1929-2012
Triumph Rocket Three dream bike
Bonhams' Ace hemi-head prototype
Petition to save Earls Court
Alex Moulton: 1920-2012
1st Southern Off Road Show, 2012
End of the UK tax disc?
Ultra-rare 1905 Leo to Bonhams sale
Dave Brubeck: 1920-2012
Italian Matchless's on the way?
Two Royal Enfield custom kits

November 2012 Classic bike news

Free British scooter exhibition at the Coventry Transport Museum
Ace Classics 2013 calendar out now
Johnny Giles opens new Ace shop

New Hughie Hancox book

Classic Stones 2012 line-up reunion

Futuristic sidecar sculpture art sale

National Trust Jenkins calls for UK
traffic light cull

French mayor set to ban classics?

Cool new Royal Enfield T-shirt

Steve McQueen's Husky to sell

Roy Price: 1929-2012

First radial tyres for classics

Police Runlock system rolls out

Pointless road sign cull

MOT shake-up for pre-1960s classics

New 2013 Royal Enfield Cafe Racer?

October 2012 Classic bike news

New Sump BEEZA GEEZA T-shirt

Rare 110-year old 1902 Rambler

Daytime "classic" LED running light

MBH goes into administration

VMCC Christmas Laverda raffle

"Old Bill" Brough auction record

Grindlay-Peerless hits £67,580

French breathalyser kit fines delayed

Ken Heanes: 1934-2012

Keanu Reeves launches bike firm

New Norton Commando Roadster side panels

The Right On Andrew Mitchell, MP

Barn find Brough & "Black Bess"

H&H's "no reserve" Brough to sell

Classic TT festival plans revealed

Offensive T-shirt man is jailed

Jimmy won't fix this

September 2012 Classic bike news

New wheel clamping regulations,
and more...

2011 Drink-driving deaths spike

Time to arm the British police?

Triumph's Jubilee Bonnie donation

Green light for cyclists?

Exmoor auction nets £667,128

New classic bike/car E-petition

Hyde Bonneville SE brake upgrade

Mike Ellis Memorial Run

French High Viz jacket confusion

Penning goes to Northern Ireland

Digital "Chronometric" clocks

August 2012 Classic bike news

"Bits Stuck Anywhere" archive film
Norton jumps US approval hurdle
Scott McKenzie: 1939-2012
Mick Hemmings' racing retirement
Exmoor Museum Collection to sell
British unemployment? Go figure
Adventure Travel Film Festival 2012
New style Euro MOT mooted
Alton eKit starters for the Norton Commando and Velo
Brighton Speed Trials reminder
AEB Auto braking is "imminent"
Sunbeam S7 video
Matlock Bath parking petition

July 2012 Classic bike news

Triumph Model H & BSA Bantam videos
Maurice Seddon's bikes for sale
Harwood cleared
Watsonian to mark its centenary
2012 VMCC Banbury Run report
VMCC competition winner
V5C "log book" warning
Battastini shut the shop, and go online
Jon Lord: 1941-2012
Founders Day is postponed
Royal Enfield's American growth
Win a Triumph 675 Street Triple
John "Jack" Difazio: 1914-2012
Martin Squires' Sketchbook
Hyde Bonneville luggage rack
BSA A65 complete alloy clutch
Triumph's new Trophy 1200 tourer

June 2012 Classic bike news

Andover Norton Commando gearboxes
Cameron's British licence plan
Glen English AJS-7R. £2,625. Sold
French breath test kit warning
New fixed penalties planned
Eddie Rickenbacker Quail sale
Norton wins Motul team award...
Michigan repeals helmet law. Partly.
Superbike up for sale. Again.
"Drugalysers" in use by 2013

May 2012 Classic bike news

Ted Simon's new book
SatNav death verdict: "accidental"
Hyde Bonneville America pegs
Raleigh Chopper designer dies
Rare Triumph TSX on eBay
Robin Gibb: 1949-2012
MOT scrapped for pre-1960s vehicles
Rare Crossley SD42 bus restored
Carroll Shelby: 1923-2012
Funky Made in Britain sidecars get MP approval
Honda dealers are revolting...
California dealer sales tag woes
Triumph top of the league again
The shape of bikes to come?
Texting drivers insurance woes
Save the British pub

April 2012 Classic bike news

H&H Duxford sale lacks lustre

Bert Weedon: 1920-2012

Norton set to race at the 2012 IOM Senior TT

Three Crockers head for Stafford

New Genuine Sump T-shirt - £15.00

Antique Bike Day at "mythical Montlhery"

H&H Hurricane to sell at Duxford

80th Royal Enfield birthday party

Dirt Quake: motorcycle mayhem

Radical new parking tax introduced

Continental wax cotton jacket from
Chequered Flag

Thames water "pride" initiative

2012 Festival of 1000 Bikes

Jim Marshall, OBE: 1923-2012

New Triumph Bonneville T-shirt

Frank "Radco" Farrington has died

Think Bike, Think Biker "a success"

Supercool Sump "Goggles" T-shirt

1939 Triumph Speed Twin on eBay

The Humber Bridge scraps bike tolls

March 2012 Classic bike news

Ex-Brian Verrall Vincents to sell

Somerset targets faceless bikers

£80,000 Brough Superior SS120

An end to rural petrol stations?

Interesting BSA WM20 3-wheeler

Jampot Spares scheme has rebranded
Interphone Motion Cam
Willie G Davidson retires
Big release of US oil reserves expected
BSA M20 & M21 T-shirt—£15.95

Mick Walker: The ride of my life

British bike magazines losing sales

Bonhams Bristol Sale: Sold out. Almost


February 2012 Classic bike news

Brightspark "EasyCap" Condensor C03

"Autopilot cars within 10 years"

Derek and Don Rickman: The Métisse Story

Norton Transformer video

DVLA set to close all regional offices by 2013

In search of Mr Nelk

1,000,000 UK drivers are aged 80+
Spare some change for the BNP?
Drivesafe goes live
Dennis Slaughter gets an MBE
"Time warp" c1917 BSA 4¼hp sold at Bonhams' February Paris Sale
OEC-Anzani replica outfit
Girder Fork & Classic Motor Cycle Club
Kevin Schwantz to ride at the 2012 Festival of 1000 Bikes


January 2012 Classic bike news

AP Racing brake calipers are back on sale.
But not just yet ...

BMW to fit Datatags as standard
£65.72 KLG spark plug (and tin) on eBay
London Mayor Johnson opens Red Route bus lanes to bikers, permanently
8th Hotrod Hayride
Daylight saving bill thrown out
"Mandatory French high-visibility vests" to be replaced by armbands?
"Dayglo" e-petition gathers support
France bans SatNav speed camera warnings
Eighty bikers quiz MEP Pete Skinner
South of England RealClassic Show & Bikejumble Sunday 11th March
Du Pont Vegas sale hits $1 million
"High visibility jackets" to become
compulsory in France

New Tiger Cub on the way?
New winter classic show gets off to
a warm start

New Raleigh bicycle book
Continental time for British bikers?
MEP Pete Skinner's biking surgery
Triumph to build bikes in India
Carole Nash free iPhone app(lication)
VMCC July-Dec competition winner
"Wrong way" cycling to be legalised?
Dealer decals from Val Emery



Classic Bike Events




Cheffins Cambridge July results


Not a bad result for Cheffins at their Vintage Sale on Saturday 27th July 2013 at Cambridge, but nothing too sensational to report either.


The auction house fielded 29 bikes of which 9 didn't sell. Top lot was the above 1938 Matchless Model X which sold for a respectable £29,500 thereby reaffirming the current interest in pre-war bikes generally, and pre-war V-twins in particular.


Three pre-unit Triumphs were on offer, all of which came from the same estate and found buyers. The top seller of the trio was a restored 1961 T120R that was re-imported to the UK from the USA. The reserve was £10,500-£11,500. The bike made bottom reserve.


Another 1961 T120R made £8000, while a third example fetched £7700.


Note that all these prices will carry and an extra 8% commission, plus VAT at 20% on the commission (but no VAT on the hammer price).



▲ 1961 650cc Triumph T120R. Sky blue over silver sheen. Sold: £10,500



▲ 1962 650cc Triumph T120R. Sold: £8000.



▲ 1961 650cc Triumph T120R. Sold: £7700



▲ 1960 883cc Harley-Davidson Sportster. Unrestored. Unsold.


Interestingly, the above 1960 Harley-Davidson Sportster didn't find a buyer. The bike carried a reserve of £12,000-£13,000 which we think is reasonable for a fairly rare piece of American hardware. This bike, with its period saddle, panniers, whitewalls and screen looks just right. We would have expected this one to move, but clearly it didn't.


Wrong auction for it, maybe. Or maybe we just need to look a little closer at classic American bike prices.

—  Del Monte



Three "rare" Triumph TSXs on sale


We've been watching these rare electric-start "factory custom" Triumphs with interest and trying to work out what is currently a realistic price for a 750cc TSX, but we can't. The classic bike market is currently volatile with prices seeming to go both ways at once. Depending on who you believe, around 371 of these bikes were built (some sources say less than 300, and some say less than 200). Many (if not half) went to the USA. The rest remained in Europe (with possibly a few Commonwealth sales). Where they all are now is anyone's guess. But we figure the survival rate is pretty high; maybe as much as 70-80 percent.


Top of the list is the above 1983 TSX from Cosmo Classics in Hastings, East Sussex. Cosmo picked this one up a week or so ago and has attached a £6,995 price tag—which sounds pretty fair considering this bike has just 2800 miles on the clock and is otherwise in pretty much "as new" condition.


Meanwhile, the 1982 TSX below hails from the stable of Richard Gaunt at D.R. Classics in the Midlands, and is on sale at £4,650. However, Richard's bike has some originality problems. It's got the wrong clocks, the wrong silencers (Norton Peashooters), and someone's mucked about with the side panels and has affixed a brass badge of some kind where the TSX badge ought to be. No mileage is listed.



Lastly, the 1982 TSX below is now on eBay at £2800 in an 8-day listing, reserve not met. This North London bike looks correct in every detail except that crash bars and saddle bags have been fitted. It's showing around 4500 miles, but we've seen this bike first hand and we believe that the true mileage is higher. Maybe around 20,000. It's got 11 bids and has 2 days to run. This bike, we notice, was on eBay in May 2012. The asking price was £6,750, and it didn't find a buyer.


So it's back (see Sump May 2012).



Of these three TSXs, only the last one has the optional kickstarter fitted. By far, the Cosmo Classics bike looks the best, and is the rarest of a rare breed with its black (and opposed to red) livery. If you're looking for an investment TSX, Cosmo's is probably the one to get. But any of these bikes will be a relatively safe place to put your money, as long as you factor in condition and wear and tear when buying, and buy at the market price. Whatever that currently is.


UPDATE: We're advised that the last bike on the list has had a deposit paid, with an agreed price of £5000 (30th July 2013).


Here are the links to the other two:



D.R. Classics


—  The Third Man



Film company seeks Enfield riders


So okay, it isn't actually MGM. Instead, it's an Indian outfit called Hello Robot. They describe themselves as a "visual design and story telling company". Whatever the hell that means.


But the point is, they're shooting a movie (that's, er, movie talk) about the Royal Enfield Continental GT cafe racer. It looks like they're planning to ride a trio all the way from London to Bombay (and note that we don't subscribe to all that modern "Mumbai" malarkey).


They want 13 riders overall. Must be either male or female and aged between 20 and 30 (sounds like a little ageism there—and where the hell are they going find 13 Enfield riders in that age bracket, anyway?).


That aside, they want 3 lead riders throughout the movie, while the other 10 stay in London.


They haven't posted any filming dates, so if you're desperate for stardom, leave the rest of your diary blank until further notice.


They'll be shooting 1 day in London, 1 day in Europe (hey, London's in Europe, dummies), and 1 day in India. All the riders will be paid.


Should hope so too.


Anyway, if you're interested,  throw away that zimmer frame, get the grey out of your hair, suck in your belly and try and look like you can still remember what day it is. Then check the details below.


And in case you don't know where India is, just go down the A127 to Basildon and keep heading east. You'll get there sooner or later, if you live that long.


Abir Panchanan
Head of Production Hello Robot
Tel: ++91 (0)976 909 0689
Email: abir@hellorobot.tv

—  Dexxion



David Dixon:



He raced motorcycles, imported them, road-tested them, sold them, tuned them, and rubbed shoulders with some of the great motorcycling sporting heroes of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s including Mike Hailwood, John Surtees, Phil Read, Jim Redman and Giacomo Agostini.


Together with business partner Tommy Robb, David Dixon also founded a motorcycle racing school that was active in the UK, Holland, France and Sweden.


He later became a political lobbyist focussed on the motorcycle industry and worked closely with the UK Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCIA).



▲ David Dixon Racing shop, Godalming High Street, Surrey circa 1982

Dublin-born David Dixon was one of the pre-eminent biking journalists of his day and began his career in 1958 as a staff writer for “the blue ‘un”, aka MotorCycle magazine. He was a frequent race track visitor, often arriving in full leathers and, armed with a notebook and a camera, regularly chased the action around the track to get the best positions. He is credited with being one of the first journalists in the UK, if not Europe, to test ride Honda motorcycles—and what he had to say was (unfortunately for the British motorcycle industry) generally positive.

His trademark white helmet with a green shamrock served him well, not only in his professional career, but also as a racer. With some success, he tried his hand at all forms of motorcycle sport, but he enjoyed road-racing the most. He was part of the 1967 team that competed at Monza, a gruelling race in which he covered 119 miles in one hour riding a 750cc Dunstall Norton.


Dixon also backed Production TT winner Bill Smith (Honda CB500), and supported numerous other TT racers who notched up three top-three finishes in four TT competitions.

In the early seventies, Dixon became a bike dealer and sold Hondas and Suzukis, and later Yoshimura high performance parts. For a while he was the UK Bimota importer.




In 2005, he co-wrote Watt’s My Line? an affectionate tome highlighting the work of the late technical illustrator Lawrie Watts, a man who in his own right deserves a lot more recognition.

Away from the race tracks, David Dixon enjoyed classical music, opera and reading. He died peacefully in his sleep on July 20th 2013 and leaves behind a wife, Christine, son Stephen, daughter Claire, and his grandchildren, Finn and Rory.

There will be a funeral service at St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, Milford, Surrey GU8 5DU on 29th July at 2.00pm.

—  Dexxion


1934 Triumph 6-1


Rare Triumph 6/1 on eBay: £16,000


Sixteen grand is the opening bid, by the way. And that's not an unrealistic sum for this prime piece of history. Designed by Ariel man, Val Page, the 6/1 is sometimes thought of as the grandfather of Edward Turner's Speed Twin.


But in reality, you have to think of them as very different motorcycles with the Speed Twin fathering generations of machines whilst the 6/1 was at an evolutionary dead end, at least as far as Triumph was concerned.


The prototype 6/1s appeared in 1933. The 70mm x 84mm, air-cooled 649cc parallel twin engine was around 150cc larger than the 498cc Speed Twin that arrived on the market five years later.


1934 Triumph 6-1


But the 6/1 was a dowdy machine, albeit technically very creditable with its double helical geared primary drive, "semi-unit" construction engine (bolt-on 4-speed gearbox), and a heavyweight crankshaft with an external flywheel in the primary gear case.


A single camshaft spun behind the barrel operating four pushrods which acted upon exposed rockers. The engine actually ran backward, and the bike itself wasn't too enthusiastic about going forward; not in the way the later Speed Twin was. But as a sidecar hauler, the 6/1 was a force to be reckoned with and could slog it out with the best of them. Most of the buyers were, unsurprisingly, tradesmen.


The brakes were 8-inch front and rear, and they were connected so that the handlebar lever operated only the front brake, while the foot pedal operated both. The rear brake, incidentally, also acted as a parking brake.


1934 Triumph 6-1 brochure


▲ Gentlemen (with or without plus fours) and traders only, please. The Triumph 6/1 simply never caught a wave and all but vanished from history save for a handful or so of remaining examples at home and abroad.



But the bike was expensive to produce, and with its wet sump engine it looked ungainly and lumbering and was heavy. The 6/1 arrived with hand-change for the gearbox and offered a foot change option only in its final year. That was 1936 when it sold for £70; around five quid cheaper than when it started out.


However, production numbers were very low at reportedly less than 100 bikes.


Edward Turner, who was running Triumph then, never had much time for the 6/1 and put an end to it, thereby clearing a path for his own 5T Speed Twin offering.


This example hails from Denmark and is said to have been fitted with Carrillo rods, and a new camshaft and crank. There are eight bidding days to go, which means that the listing will end on 28th July 2013.


Here's the link: eBay Triumph 6/1.


As an investment bike, there's some potential here. But we think it's a slow burn, and the 6/1 is unlikely to fetch the really big money which is almost always reserved for the bikes that were popular in their day—and the 6/1 wasn't.


—  The Third Man


Swinton fined for swindling


The firm is one of the biggest home, car, and bike insurance brokers in the UK, and it likes to pride itself on the quality of its service and the number of its high street outlets. But it's been fined £7.4million by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for "mis-selling".


Basically, the company developed "verbal scripts" that encouraged its sales staff to flog add-ons with its policies, but failed to make it clear that the add-ons were optional.


The FCA called this strategy "aggressive" and said that Swinton "prioritised profit". Swinton has said sorry and reckons it's contacted 650,000 customers and paid out £1.9million, and has set aside a total of £11.2million to make matters right. On the other side of the accounting books, it seems that Swinton's trading tactics has brought in almost £93million, so they're not exactly at a financial loss.


It all happened, by the way, between April 2010 and April 2012. And now the FCA is scrutinising other insurance firms to see how their trading methods stack up.


Well, we've read the press release half a dozen times but we still can't see the news here, notwithstanding the huge fine. Britain is awash with firms engaging in what used to be called "sharp practice" if not outright fraud.


Swinton probably isn't the worst of them. They were just unlucky or stupid enough to have sailed a little too close to the wind on this occasion. We've never had much time for the modern compensation culture, and we tend to favour personal responsibility when it comes to buying and selling. But if you've been ripped off, as opposed to simply been "suckered" (to borrow a great word from the Yanks), you know what you have to do.



—  Sam 7



York council's 20mph slap in the face


13,000 York residents were asked if they wanted a 20mph speed limit throughout the city. Only 97 responded, of which 87 said "No!" to the Labour run city council's latest move to cut road deaths.


Despite the lack of support, York council is going ahead anyway claiming that there "wasn't significant objection" to the proposal. They've got a point, up to a point. But 10 votes in favour hardly counts as a mandate for change.


However, Councillor Dave Merrett (Labour) believes that a significant number of lives can be saved despite 2012 figures from the Department for Transport which reveal a 24 percent rise in casualties in 20mph zones.


Why the rise?


We don't know, but we can surmise that lack of concentration on the part of drivers and riders travelling at a snail's pace coupled with less threatened pedestrians might have something to do with it.


Either way, the rise in casualties is, perhaps, in sharp contrast to Dutch experiments which reveal that increased pedestrianisation—whereby the demarcation lines between roads and pavements (sidewalks, in American English) are made deliberately less clear—actually leads to a cut in the number of deaths.


We don't know where the truth lies, but it doesn't let York council off the hook. Instead, it simply highlights the fact that the poll was nothing but window dressing, and that the council had already made up its municipal mind. Which is hardly a novel situation.


Wherever you are in the world, you might want to remember this little tale the next time you hear a UK politician trumpet the virtues of British democracy.


Meanwhile, in March 2013, Islington Council in North London became the first UK council to introduce a blanket 20mph throughout the borough on all roads except a few major routes managed by Transport for London (TfL).


In April 2013, Brighton & Hove Council rolled out a new city centre 20mph zone.


In July 2012, Bristol Council voted to introduce a blanket 20mph limit throughout the city on all roads except dual carriageways. It's being phased in this year.


More and more councils are following suit.


—  Dexxion


French TV channel will be filming at the Ace


The Channel is Escales, we hear, and it will be making a programme about "motorcycling and the spirit of rock n' roll in the UK".


There are moments when we think this theme has been done to death for a long time to come, and other times when we shrug and tell ourselves that it doesn't do any harm, and that it's all just a bit of fun.


Either way, Escales is going to be at the Ace Cafe "filming and interviewing riders with Triumph's on Friday 6th September 6pm-11pm and on Classic Bike Day, Sunday 8th Septmber from 9.30am".


We've no idea why our Frenchy friends appear to want to talk only to Triumph riders. But that's the story.

For more info contact: lucieboisard@yahoo.fr

—  Del Monte



Lesney's Matchbox 60th anniversary


John "Jack" Odell is the man behind Matchbox toys, or so the story goes. It was 1953, and Odell had fairly recently become a partner with Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith.


Smith & Smith weren't related. They were school friends and Royal Navy pals who came together to form a London-based die-casting company and who lent part of their respective Christian names to the firm, hence Lesney.


Odell's daughter, then a school-ager, had been told that the only toy or toys she could bring into class had to fit inside a matchbox. Odell senior responded to the challenge, and Matchbox toys were born.


We don't know how true that story is. But like other similar tales, it ought to be true, and for that reason alone we're prepared to believe it.



Leslie Smith (left) and John "Jack" Odell. Co-founder Rodney Smith left the firm in 1951.  The other Smith and Odell continued and developed the business. Smith died in 2005 aged 87. Odell died two years later at the same age.



Many moons ago, one or two of us here at Sump visited the factory that was the spiritual home of the firm. It was in Hackney in East London (by the canal), and we recall the machines busily punching out the model cars lorries, motorcycles, tractors, road-rollers and sundry automobilia into huge industrial sized buckets from where rows of cheery chin-wagging girls would take them and assemble them and pack them into the tiny boxes.


The air was rich with the heady smells of machine oils and paint and other chemicals. The noise wasn't huge, but was significant, and nothing was ever said at a whisper.


Overall, the atmosphere was friendly and homely, and it looked like a few factory romances were blossoming, and we suspect that there are some tales to be told there.


Within a few years of that visit, however, the firm was in serious trouble and headed for receivership. But in its heyday, which was the 1960s, Lesney boasted fourteen factories in London, was producing a quarter of a million models a week, and was the fourth largest toy firm in Europe. And when it came to die-cast models, Britain was in the lead worldwide.


Lesney, which is now owned by Mattel (based in California), has produced over three billion models spanning 12,000 product lines. The value of the models ranges between 0 and £10,000.


But what's the story about the Triumph Motorcycle with Sidecar in the above image? Well, we found that on eBay a few minutes ago (17th July 2013, 23.34 hours). The bids were up to $30, with four hours to go.


The year of the model wasn't specified, but any dedicated collector will probably know and will tell you that you really need to know your stuff if you want to profit in the sometimes lucrative Matchbox market where, no doubt, dark thoughts and dastardly deeds between warring rivals abound.


It's all a little too complicated for us, so we're simply going to pop the tab on another beer and enjoy the 60th anniversary of a great old classic British toy making institution.


—  Big End



Free tickets to the South of England SuperBike Show and Bike Jumble


So okay, there are only two tickets on offer, but someone out there is gonna get 'em. Just add the surnames to these four great British motorcycle designers/stylists, and send the answer in an email:


Valentine ?

Edward ?




Easy huh? It ought to be because our goldfish just did it. And the first correct ping in our email get's the tickets.


But if you can't do that, then tell us a funny (but clean) biker joke. Or send us a picture and a few words about your (British) bike. Or just do or say something interesting. Whoever impresses us the most by the end of this week gets the tickets, but we'll bias it in favour of the guy or girl who knows his classic bike designers (or looks it up on Google).


And don't be shy. Most people (including ourselves) are pretty lazy and won't bother firing off an email, so you could get lucky.


Do your worst at: feedback@sumpmagazine.com


You can collect them on the gate at the show, which is sponsored by Real Classic magazine. It takes place on Sunday 28th July 2013 at Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL.


This show is for ALL Superbikes of yesteryear be they British or Japanese or Italian or whatever. Check Sump's events page for more info, or go direct to the organiser's website.



—  Del Monte



"... and do you take this poof to be your lawfully wedded husband?"


So okay, we deliberately contrived the provocative headline and image above simply to get your attention. But now that you're here (with around fifteen percent of you, statistically speaking, already rolling up your sleeves for a punch-up) you might be interested to hear that the law allowing "gay" marriage has just been approved by the Commons and is set to be added to the UK statute books.


All it needs now is the formal approval of the Queen, which sounds perfectly appropriate.


At Sump, we don't actually care what people do in the privacy of their homes or public lavatory stalls. In this life, you've got to get it where it's going. But it seems a pity that the definition of the word "marriage" is about to become muddied because fifteen percent of the population want to have the same legal and social status as a traditional matrimonial union.


"Civil partnerships", we hear, just don't do it for some people, and so a huge wedge of parliamentary time and expense has been allocated to addressing the thorny issue of same sex "marriage". You can argue that there are more pressing issues to be dealt with. But then, there are almost always more pressing issues. Parliament, to its credit, is there to address both important issues and trivial pursuits.




▲ ‘I quite fancy my brother, maybe I’ll marry my son,’ - Lord Tebbit in the House of Lords mocking gay marriage laws, May 2013


That said, we've always accepted that marriage was largely a social construct designed to support procreation and give the time honoured man/woman relationship a leg-up after a leg-over, not least with regard to matters of finance and taxation. In other words, an embryonic nuclear family historically needed a lot more support than a couple of fashion designers (or whatever) who simply want to shack up together and enjoy of range of modern pecuniary benefits.


But now, every man and his dog/boyfriend/whatever is demanding parity and, in this case, has successfully lobbied for change. But what's really needed, arguably, is for a new word to enter the English language that satisfactory addresses "gay" concerns about social inferiority rather than allow a minority group to hijack a definition that's served us well for millennia.


You might as well call a black man a white man, or vice versa. But you're not fooling anyone. Gay "marriage" will soon become law. However, that's not going to make the real or perceived social stigma go away. It's not going to do much to alter people's underlying bigoted (or otherwise) responses.


"Marriage has evolved over time. We believe that opening it up to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, the institution. As David Cameron has said, we should support gay marriage not in spite of being Conservatives, but because we are Conservatives."  — Theresa May, UK Home Secretary


Regarding homosexual or lesbian relationships, the world is already a far more liberal place than it ever was. And conventional marriage, as an institution, has worked pretty well for the vast majority of people.


A semantic victory by the gay community is no kind of victory at all.


Links on this:


I will MARRY MY DOG if gay marriage is allowed!



—  Dexxion



Henry Cole's "Gladstone" bobber


It's being hyped as the "the first brand new bespoke British motorcycle manufacturer to come to the market since Hesketh in 1984". But you can think of it as just another Triumph-powered bobber.


TV presenter Henry Cole, of The Motorbike Show, is the man behind this one. Cole's great-great-uncle, we hear, was prime minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) who served four tours of duty as the man in the British top job.


We checked his bio and can't see that Gladstone ever had much to do with bicycles or motorcycling, or even TV presenting, but Cole evidently feels that this small claim to fame is sufficient to add a little gravitas to what looks like a fairly unremarkable been-there-done-that project.


Except that we haven't seen the bike for ourselves, so we're going to be generous and give Henry the benefit of the doubt.


He's launching the bike at the 2013 Salon Prive on 4th-6th September (Wednesday to Friday) at Syon Park, West London, and we understand that nine Gladstones will be built, each sold as a Gladstone No 1. Another twenty-two bikes will follow, but how they'll be badged, or what the marketing rationale is, leaves us wanting, but not necessarily caring.


There are no other details about the bike. But it looks like a 650 or 750 unit twin Meriden Triumph engine housed in a ho-hum chassis. And from this angle, it looks more like a chopper than a bobber.


Regardless, these kinds of vanity projects rarely amount to anything. But maybe Henry can pull a new rabbit from an old hat and surprise us all.


But wait. What is Salon Prive, anyway? Well it's a "boutique" motoring event now in its eighth year, a kind of upper class champagne and caviar shindig for wealthy petrolheads and is open to "discerning" collectors, enthusiasts, and guests.


Which probably excludes us because we can't even get a table in McDonalds let alone an invite to a motoring boutique. But maybe you've got better connections, in which case you'll want to check out the link below.


Ticket prices, by the way, are around £225-£295. A table for ten will set you back £2950.


See what we mean by "discerning"?




—  The Third Man


Triumph TRW pricing news


£2900. That's the price that the above 500cc Triumph TRW (first registered in 1965) fetched today on eBay. Which sounds like a bargain when compared to other examples on the market.


We've just been completing the finishing touches to a TRW buyers guide which we'll be posting anytime soon, hence the reason we were watching.


A handful of years ago, TRWs were on almost nobody's Christmas card wish list. You could pick one up for sub-£2000, and usually a reasonable example.


But in 2011, Cheffins sold one for £3700. Ace Classics (London) sold one a few months back for a little over £4000 (£4200 possibly), and Ace has another example right now for sale at £4400.


There are currently three more on eBay (15th July 2013 @ 22.00 hours).


Here are the details:



1964 Triumph TRW. £4650. Classified ad. Classic Motorcycles Ltd, Northwich, Cheshire.



1952 Triumph TRW. Classified ad. £4299



1964 Triumph TRW. £2150. Reserve not met. 9 bids.



What it appears to mean is that these bikes are definitely on a roll, and arguably not before time. It's maybe good news for anyone who's got one, but not so good for anyone saving their pennies to get on board.


Or is this just a fashion blip?


We've seen that before with Gold Stars, with Sunbeam S7s and S8s, with Panther 120s and with more than a few Ajays, all of which have at various times been riding a pricing rollercoaster. Typically, it's the bike dealers who charge the top money with Joe Public trailing by ten or twenty percent. But that £4000 barrier has been squarely passed for private sellers, and four grand is now the rule than the exception—which reiterates the point that the £2900 TRW above was possibly a real bargain for these Nato-issue bikes.


—  Big End



David "Fluff" Brown: 1930-2013


Fluff Brown, motorcycle engineer, scrambling legend, and the man who relaunched the fabled AJS Stormer is no longer with us.


Fluff was born in Chillington, near Chard in Somerset. He began his scrambling career in 1952 riding a 197cc Ambassador, a bike that was also his daily ride.


In the 1960s, after a spell in the arrmy with the Royal Engineers, he became a works rider for Gloucester-based Cotton and soon developed a reputation as a top development engineer/tuner. His passion was always for two-strokes which he campaigned hard regularly notching up outright wins when he wasn't taking second or third place.


He was closely associated or was friends with numerous scrambling heroes of the day including Badger Goss, Pat Onions, Monty Denly, the Lampkin brothers, John Draper, Ken Messenger, Bill Ivey and Malcolm Davis.


Fluff became instrumental in the development of the Villiers Starmaker engine for motocross use, and as a competition manager he helped popularise the newly developed range of 250c, 370cc and 410cc AJS Stormers raced by riders such as Vic Eastwood, Andy Roberton, Roger Harvey and Malcom Davis.


In 1974 when Norton Villiers Triumph (NVT) collapsed, Fluff saw an opportunity and seized it and acquired the rights to the AJS name and the Stormer brand. He also bought all the factory Stormer spares.


FB-AJS Stormer 250


He relocated to Goodworth Clatford in Hampshire and began selling parts for existing Stormer motorcycles. Soon after, he set about putting the Stormer itself back into production, albeit on a limited basis. He was joined by Reg Painter from Norton.


Over the next 6-7 years, these FB-AJS Stormers underwent further development. Around sixty bikes are said to have been built (AJS manufactured between 500-800 units). By the 1980s, the 4-speed bikes were too outdated to remain competitive, but Fluff continued to build scramblers, now powered by Rotax engines. By 1982, production had come to an end.


AJS-125cc hardtail watercooled bobber


In more recent years, Fluff Brown launched onto the market the first bike in forty years to carry the AJS name, this being a 125cc four-stroke manufactured in China. The firm trades from Andover and currently fields eight Chinese-built models including the custom hardtail water-cooled 125cc bobber immediately above which came onto the market in 2010 priced at £2999.


AJS—managed in recent years by son, Nick—continues to sell spares, accessories and technical manuals for the Stormer which is still being used in anger.


David "Fluff" Brown's health had been deteriorating for many years. He died on July 4th 2013 aged 82. A funeral service will take place on 25th July at Basingstoke Crematorium, Hampshire. He leaves behind his wife, Valerie, sons Nick and Simon, daughter Sandie, numerous grandchildren and a great grandson.



—  The Third Man



New Norton Domiracer breaks cover


MCN have put up a YouTube video (image above) revealing the new Domiracer as envisaged by Stuart Garner's Norton.


The bike, which will be available "later in the year", has yet to have its price officially announced. Norton's Simon Skinner (ex-Hinckley Triumph) tells us that they'll be spilling the beans on August 9th (2013). But The Classic Motor Cycle is reporting that the Domiracer will cost £24,000 in its current form, with an extra £2000 for road-ready specification.


The Classic Motor Cycle is also reporting that just fifty bikes will be made. We haven't yet received confirmation of this, but we're talking to Norton to sort out what's what.


The only real details available are that the bike will be using the standard Norton 961 engine, will feature a featherbed-style steel frame with steel swinging arm, will have an Ohlins fork, an aluminium alloy tank, and some carbon fibre bits splashed around to keep it contemporary. So nothing unexpected there.


And it looks okay to us, but until it's actually waddling and quacking, we're reluctant to call it a duck.


Meanwhile, you can check out the MCN YouTube video for a closer look and decide for yourself if it's going to sink or swim.


Domiracer video

—  Big End



£20,000 T120 Bonneville in sight


No, not this one. This 1959 T120 Triumph Bonneville was recently sold by Ace Classics London Ltd for "a mere" £17,500. But it illustrates the rapid rise in the fortunes of these bikes that, over the past ten years or so, appear to have almost doubled in price.


We were alerted by a Sump visitor to two T120s each carrying an asking price of twenty grand. Whether they get it is another matter. But it seems that it's only a matter of time before that watershed is reached.


We spoke to Kentish classic bike dealer Phil Clarke of Clarke's Classics who told us that £12,000 - £14,000 isn't unrealistic for a restored example correctly built. Furthermore, he can certainly see a lot more than that for a prime 1959 T120.


What's that you say? These kind of news stories serve only to increase the value of classic bikes and push them beyond reach of the average greasy oik? Well there's some truth in that. But hey, don't shoot us; we're just the messengers. We can't afford them either.


Fact is, pre-unit Triumphs of the late 1950s and early 1960s are in the ascendancy. So if you're currently a little cash happy, there are worse places to put your money.


We prefer to ride 'em, mind. But the market is on the move, and these bikes are already becoming too valuable to actually use in anger, more's the pity.


—  Del Monte



"Motorways are a rip off!" say IAM


The IAM? That would be the Institute of Advanced Motorists, founded in 1956, currently claiming to be 100,000 strong, and committed to making British roads safer places for all.


That's the official spiel, and we've got no truck with that (no pun intended). This august and charitable organisation has been lobbying, complaining, heckling, recommending and advising both us and successive governments for over fifty years and mostly has something pertinent and sensible to say.


But we were a little bemused by their latest press release lamenting the fact that motorway fuel costs on average around ten pence per litre more than off-motorway forecourts. Or that a cup of coffee or a bottle of mineral water costs around fifty percent more than high street prices. Or that a motorway Mars bar currently costs around 95 pence compared to around 79 pence at the corner shop.


The IAM crunched these numbers by chin-wagging with 2238 respondents, 54 percent of whom “agreed that motorway fuel prices are unreasonable”.


Furthermore, the IAM wants to see motorway services forced to advertise their competitor’s prices alongside their own, as is the case in France.


It seems to us, however, that the prices you pay at services are actually a pretty fair exchange for having a modern oasis where you can stop, wash up, fiddle with the bike, change a flat, cadge a lift, picnic, exercise the dog, smack the kids, warm up, cool down, have a fag, take a leak, phone your mum, fuel-up, tuck-in and even bed-down for a bit (and, if the stories we've lately been hearing are true, not necessarily bed-down alone).


Fact is, motorway services cost a fortune to build and run, and the firms who operate them are, like the rest of us, in it mostly for the money. Unlike the IAM, these operators aren’t charities. They’re businesses. They get the prices they charge because that’s how it works in a market economy.


If you as a traveller don't want to open your wallet that wide, you can make other arrangements and bring your own Mars bars and coffee and Porta Potti and/or go hunting around off-motorway at 3.00am searching for a convenient garage. Or you can just stick to the A-roads. Or take the train.


Of course, many drivers won’t plan ahead, and they will get tired, and high prices at the motorway services will deter some from stopping—which underlines much of the IAM’s concerns. But that’s a different issue, and the raw truth is that sleepy motorists aren’t the service station operator’s problem. It’s our problem, and the government’s problem. And if the government wants to subsidise motorway services areas by dipping into public finances, it can open the debate any time it likes.


When compared to high street prices, motorway service stations were never cheap. But when you take a look from the other side of the counter and factor in staffing costs and heating costs and lighting costs and security costs, and so on and so forth, most of these service areas are actually a bargain.


Let's keep some perspective here.


Meanwhile, David Cameron has recently (May 2013) told Jo Johnson, head of the Number 10 policy unit to examine an Office of Fair Trading report into motorway fuel prices and see what can be done to “level the playing field” by adopting French-style fuel pricing signs telling you where you can get the gas cheaper.


And this from a Tory government? It’s a funny old world sometimes, innit?


—  Big End


Mortons postpones
Big Kent
2013 event


It was supposed to happen this year in September, but Mortons has shelved its Big Kent event until 2014. At least. Why? Well Mortons say it's because they've recently acquired shows at Newark and Lanark, and they want to concentrate on those.


This is what Nick Mowbray, the Exhibition Manager, had to say:


“Having expanded our portfolio of events in the last year, we have taken a decision that gives us the necessary time to inject the kind of quality into the Big Kent Bike Show that is expected of us by our visitors.”


Sounds like a lot of corporate spin to us. And it sounds like Mortons has over-reached itself and needs to build a little more steam in the face of a struggling market. Either way, the show's now on the back burner until further notice.


But dry your eyes because there are other events in the area, or close to it. On Saturday 21st September 2013 there's the Kempton Bike Jumble at East Sunbury on Thames. And the following day, Sunday 22nd September 2013, there's the Romney Marsh Classic Bikejumble at Hamstreet.

Meanwhile, Sunday 29th September is Norman Day at Ashford.


Once again, you can't blame Mortons for wanting to increase its portfolio of shows. Everybody wants to rule the world, or so it's said. But we're not exactly broken hearted to see the independent promoters and clubs get a little more breathing space.


Check Sump's events listing for updates.

—  Girl Happy


VMCC Velo and Norton raffle update



Firstly congratulations to Carl Storer of Leeds who took first prize in the VMCC's Jan-June 2013 raffle and walked away (or rode away or pushed away and loaded onto a trailer or into the back of a van) this sorted-looking 1959 Velocette Venom 500cc. His ticket was number 244024.


The VMCC forgot to tell us what Carl said about his win and the bike. But we figure he ought to say something, so we're making this bit up.


"I was absolutely thrilled to bits and will get lots of pleasure out of this lovely Venom. Or I might flog it on eBay and take a trip to Mexico. Or I might donate it to charity. I haven't decided yet."


Meanwhile, the July-December 2013 raffle bike has just been announced, and it's the very pretty looking 1961 Norton Dominator 650SS (below). You can get your tickets, which as far as we know are still one pound each, from the VMCC—but only if you live in the UK. The raffle still isn't open to Johnny Foreigner.



Lastly, in keeping with the spirit of the raffle, we're now going to mention the sponsors who are Davida (which make lids), Bonhams (which is currently making a lot of money) and Mortons Media Group Ltd (which publishes advertorials).



—  The Third Man


Vincent Black Shadow T-shirt


The Vincent Black Shadow. The name instantly transports us back to another age when Britain was emerging from the dark years of WW2 and was doing everything it could to pay back all the money the Yanks had lent us in order to kick Herr Hitler into touch.


To coin a much repeated phrase, Britain needed to export or die, and most of the motorcycle manufacturers from Ariel to BSA to Norton to Triumph rose to the occasion and did all they could to flog British products to those parts of the world that still had cash to spare and needed new mobility in a rapidly changing age.


Phil Vincent and Phil Irving did their bit for the post-war effort, and in 1948 they gave us and the rest of the civilised world (that had just spent the past six years developing new ways to maim and murder) the Vincent Black Shadow.


The Shadow, of course, was a knockout. It was heavier engineered than the Bismarck, could crack 120mph, looked like nothing else on the planet, and really was the world's fastest production motorcycle.


There was always something brutal about it. Or even Teutonic. But it was as British as HP Sauce, Aston Martin and the Harrier Jump Jet, and was arguably the boldest possible statement ever made by a member of the UK motorcycle industry.


With 55bhp on tap, the 998cc, OHV, 50-degree V-twin was nothing if not a muscle bike. It effortlessly munched miles and shrank continents, and there are more than a handful of Vincents (or various types) that have clocked up 250,000 - 500,000 miles. And more. But they were, and are, expensive and complicated to build and repair, and eventually Phil Vincent had to pull the plug (or is that plug caps?) in the face of mounting losses.


By 1955, it was all over bar the memory. But ah, what a memory...



Whatever you think of Vincents (and we know that the range of opinions is "diverse"), these are fabulous motorcycles that most classic bikers would love to own or just ride (even if they prefer not to admit it).


Regardless, we love 'em plenty, which is why we devised the above T-shirt design. They're available in the usual four sizes (S, M, L and XL). All the shirts are good quality black cotton. And the price is fifteen quid—or, if you're a foreign gentlemen or gentlewoman unaccustomed to our quaint old Anglo Saxon slang, we're talking about fifteen of our world famous British pounds. Plus postage and packing.


Black and gold and white was the obvious choice of colours, and we think these shirts look pretty cool.


And remember, you don't actually have to own a Vincent to plaster one of these T-shirts across your chest. But after a couple of hours of strutting around in one and slicking back what's left of your Brylcreemed quiff, you'll wish all over again that you did.


Click any of the images to be transported to our order page. Or just hit the link below.


Sump Vincent Black Shadow T-shirt


—  Big End


Welsh Assembly votes away rights


It was 43 to 8 in favour of nicking bits of your body without your explicit consent. That's the long and short of it.


You have to be dead first, of course. And you have to live in Wales (and not merely die there). But following a vote last night (2nd July 2013) in the Welsh Assembly, from 2015 it looks like you'll be automatically opted in as an organ donor unless you tell the your doctor, friends and family otherwise.


The belief is that this move will boost organ donation numbers by around 25-35 percent, which might be true. But underlying this shift is the simple fact that a governing body in the United Kingdom is effectively stealing your rights to yourself.


Given the general incompetence of much of the medical profession, it's inevitable that serious errors will be made, and as the body on the slab, you'll be in no position to do much about it.


But there will be checks and balances, we're advised, not least that our relatives will still have the right to object before the butcher knives come out. But since when have relatives, as a group, been trustworthy?


Under the scheme, Welsh body parts can also be used UK-wide (cue any number of jokes about real or alleged Welsh xenophobia), and English organs can still be used to keep Welshman alive (cue any number of jokes about real or alleged English xenophobia).



Under this law, you can opt in, opt out, or be opted in anyway because some filing clerk ticked the wrong box. What's really needed is not this socially corrosive PASSIVE law, but an ACTIVE campaign to increase purely voluntary organ and tissue donation.


But of course, what's behind it is simply money. It's cheaper to steal your rights than pay for a protracted series of TV, radio and newspaper adverts.


And consider this; if people really wanted to donate their organs, they would. But the predicted rise in the number of organ donors under these new provisions can perhaps be accounted for simply in terms of bureaucratic error. In other words, a 25-35 percent increase in organ donations might well equal a 23-35 percent rise in filing screw-ups, deliberate or otherwise.


Or is that too cynical?


Either way, this kind of consented-until-proved-otherwise thinking is worryingly akin to the guilty-until-proved-innocent mindset currently at large in much of the British establishment. We can see a challenge to this move in the European Court of Human Rights. For us, that challenge can't come quick enough.


Our advice if you don't like this Burke & Hare law?


Leave Wales before 2015. Have your objections tattooed on your chest. Be nice to your relatives. Expect England and Scotland to follow suit sooner or later. And expect a few professional fouls somewhere down the line.


Meanwhile, Clwyd West representative Darren Millar has warned of "unintended consequences". We think he's right.


See Sump July 2011 for more on organ donation rules.


—  Sam 7



June Pendine Trials "weathered off"


They were hoping for clear skies, sunshine and still air. But on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd June 2013, the weather God clearly had other ideas and offered little more than bright spells, gusty Atlantic winds and a drop or two of rain that pretty much scotched any hopes of serious racing.


But despite a few marquees flying away and the odd motorcycle flip and tumble on the beach, no lasting damage was done to man or machine, and the spirit of this pre-1990 air-cooled speed meet has generated enough enthusiasm to run it again next year.


Eric Patterson, organiser of Kempton Park Autojumble who was hoping to race a Brough Superior owned by the redoubtable Mark Upham, said; "All in all, the weather was pretty awful with a very strong cross wind on Saturday. Because of that, things didn't really kick off until midday.


"The same thing happened on Sunday. I rode the Brough Pendine Racer purely for demonstration purposes. It was being filmed by Henry Cole from ITV 4. But overall, the mood was good, and it was a great first outing. It always takes a while to get an event like this established. But it was a good learning curve for everyone, and hopefully will be better next year."


Riders and exhibitors included Dick Smith of Baron's Speed Shop, the Ace Cafe, Eric Patterson, Mark Upham, Chris Ireland and John Renwick.


See Sump April 2013 for more on this.



—  Del Monte


June 2013



Roger LaVern: 1937 - 2013


Some of us around here remember well when Telstar 1, the world's first communications satellite, went into orbit in July 1962.


Along with Sputnik 1, Yuri Gagarin, John Glenn, Apollo Eleven, Dr Who and Star Trek, Telstar was one of the high spots of the 1960s (literally and metaphorically).


And when the hit instrumental song "Telstar" took off a month or so later, the record went ballistic and reached number one on both sides of the pond—and is often said to be the first number one hit in the USA for a British pop group. But in fact, Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" pipped it to the post earlier that same year.


Roger LaVern, born Roger Keith Jackson, was the keyboardist for the Tornados, a studio band assembled by legendary producer Joe Meek. But LaVern/Jackson wasn't the guy who laid down that evocative, memorable and even haunting theme. That was handled by another musician named Geoff Goddard playing an overdubbed clavioline (an early electronic keyboard).


Meek—who in 1967 shot both his landlady and himself allegedly in a fit of depression—needed a band to stand behind Billy Fury and make the right noises at the right moment, and so brought together the five piece combo.


For a while, the band (when not accompanying Fury) enjoyed a run of hits including "Globetrotter", "Ice Cream Man", and "Robot". But men (and women) of a certain age might better remember their tune "The Scales of Justice" that opened the legal TV series of the same name and was introduced by Edgar Lustgarten.


The Telstar line-up included Clem Cattini (drums), Alan Caddy (lead guitar, George Bellamy (rhythm guitar), Heinz Burt (bass) and Roger LaVern (piano).


LaVern, it seems, never made much money from his involvement with the Tornados. But girls were endlessly throwing themselves at him and other pop stars of the era, he says, and claims that he slept with 3500 of them. He married numerous times, sired four children by four women, did a tour or two with the British Army, was a social worker for a while, later forged a career as a house pianist and a band manager, and suffered from a debilitating disease of the hands (Dupuytren’s Contracture) that required multiple medical operations and took a decade to fix—a particularly cruel fate for a pianist.


But Roger (top left in the image immediately above) continued “playing” as and when possible, and in more ways than one he kept himself pretty busy.


He leaves behind a wife, Maria, and possibly a lot of other women who'll remember him perhaps for taking them into another kind of orbit.


If ever a man was appropriately named, it was Roger.

—  Dexxion


2012 UK road deaths and injury figures


The numbers still ain't good, but they're a lot better than they were.


We're still looking at almost one motorcycle rider death per day in the UK, which mercifully shows a drop of 34 over last year's figure of 362.


But note that motorcycle usage also decreased by around 2 per cent last year, which means that the drop isn't as good as it might be.


For all road users except cyclists, fatalities on the roads from
2011-2012 are down.


Here are the 2011-2012 statistics at a glance.


Motorcycle rider fatalities are down to 328, a drop of 9 per cent


Seriously injured motorcyclists fell to 5,000, down 5 per cent


Total rider casualties fell to 19,310, down 4 per cent


Pedestrian fatalities are down to 420, a drop of 7 per cent


Car occupant fatalities fell to 801, down 9 per cent.


Car occupant serious injuries fell to 8,232, down 1 per cent


Cycling deaths rose to 118, up 10 per cent


It hardly needs saying, but we're going to say it anyway. Ride defensively. That still offers you your best chances of getting home in one piece after another day in the saddle.


Be careful out there.


—  Del Monte


Cheffins fairground biker: £1100


There were two of these characters actually. The other example made "just" £880, which is a lot of dosh for something that not that so many years ago would have been left to rot in a barn and/or used for firewood.


The underlying story is that auctioneers Cheffins are looking for similar items of fairground memorabilia for future sales and have reminded us that there's potentially a lot of money to be made if you stumble into the right barn.


In short, there's a niche market out there that's every bit as enthusiastic about general roundabout animals, Galloper horses, Gag boards, fairground booths, sideshow figurines and suchlike as you are about those classic motorcycle rarities that turn up from time to time at the jumbles. As ever, one man's junk is another man's treasure.


The two bikers in question are made of wood and came from a fairground ride built by South London firm A J Lakin. Each rider is around 56 inches in length, and the paint is said to be original. The date of manufacture isn't known, but we figure that these probably hail from the 1960s, or maybe a little later. But what do we know?


Either way, the 1930s look is bound to be popular with a lot of people, and Jeremy Curzon at Cheffins will be happy to appraise whatever you've got in a similar vein.



—  The Third Man



Brake lights that see round the bend


The Ford Motor Company has tipped us off about its new early warning system for cars; a system that looks around bends and "talks" to other vehicles in traffic queues. Clever stuff, but it seems to us that for decades we've been hearing about this kind of Tomorrow's World technology.


Back then, however, it was mostly wishful thinking. But Ford has recently put a lot of money where its corporate mouth is and has equipped a fleet of 120 vehicles in Germany and has been testing the set-up which they reckon is nearly ready.


In theory.


The idea relies, naturally enough, upon car-to-car communications systems which are now so sophisticated that there are already plenty of vehicles out there which need almost zero human input.


A further development of the concept are cars (and presumably motorcycles) that also talk to traffic lights to help smooth out the lumps and keep everything flowing smoothly.


In terms of road safety, such a "fly-by-wire" system is bound to be a great leap forward. These things usually are. But in terms of motoring or motorcycling fun, this kind of technology is ultimately likely to be as exciting as flying on EasyJet and will drive many of us further into a past that just might not be so accessible in the foreseeable future.


There are still plenty of problems to solve, say Ford, such as how the system will interreact with vehicles that are "off the grid", or on another network, or fail to recognise the required protocols. And pedestrians and cyclists and dogs and pigeons behave a lot less predictably than the average driver or rider and are giving the firm a monster headache.


But it can only be a matter of time before the solutions are found, and then the driver will be so redundant that he'll be able to sit at home in front of the box and send the car out for a Chinese take-away and a six pack, and maybe stop off at the car wash on the way back. In fact, he could probably go for years without even looking at his wheels.


Remember Zager and Evans back in 1969?


"In the year 5555
Your arms hangin' limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin' to do
Some machine's doin' that for you"


They warned us about this and other stuff, didn't they? But the genie's out of the bottle a lot sooner than many expected, and the future is now.


See Sump, August 2012.

—  Big End


Bonhams' 2013 Banbury highlights



You gotta respect another man's wheels. But it's hard to do that when his ride has only one wheel at the front (that's fit only for scrap) and hasn't got one at the rearor much more in between.


But that didn't stop Bonhams bringing the hammer down at £10,580 including premium for the 1928 AJS 349cc K7 pictured immediately above.


And it didn't stop Bonhams realising £7,130 including premium for the circa 1951 Norton 490cc ES2/International pictured immediately below.



Both bikes carried estimates of £1000, which was either Bonhams being very stupid, or being very smart (and we suspect the latter).


It all happened at Bonhams' Banbury Sale on Saturday 15th June 2013; an auction that, say the firm, turned over £1.5 million, which was up £485,500 on last year's outing.


Other notable sales include the (immediately) above 1935 S.O.S 172cc
Ex-Tommy Meeten 'Brooklands Special' which sold for £5,060 including premium.


S.O.S was founded by Len (Leonard Leslie Hubert) Vale-Onslow (image right) in 1926. The Super Onslow Special (aka So Obviously Superior) was first built in Hallow, Worcestershire.


Having no gas supply, Onslow used electric welding for the frames and conceived a very light and rigid structure which was ideal for competition.


He used JAP engines of 250cc and 350cc, and Villiers engines of 172cc, 196cc and 247cc. The bikes were noted for their high quality build and finish—not to mention performance and agility.


In 1932, Onslow relocated to Birmingham, the city most closely associated with the short-lived marque. A 346cc bike was soon being offered along with a 249cc water-cooled machine.



Redhill, Surrey-based Tommy (T.G) Meeten (above, astride a Francis Barnett) took over S.O.S in the early-1930s and continued the tradition of building lightweight, competition-oriented two strokes with manufacturing still based in Birmingham.


The Bonhams-Banbury example was sold with its original Brooklands engine, and has been "restored to a high standard". Meeten, we hear,
was the first registered owner/keeper of the bike and successfully campaigned it.


For services to the motorcycling world, Len Vale-Onslow was made a MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 1995. He died in 2004 at the dizzy age of 103, and was still riding at age 100.


The last S.O.S bikes were built in 1939.


The top-selling Bonhams-Banbury motorcycle lot was a restored 1907 NSU 460cc. This bike, which had been displayed at the Coventry Transport Museum, sold for £13,800.


Meanwhile, a restored 1939 Ariel 995cc Model 4G ‘Square Four’ sold for £13,225.

Overall, these are respectable enough results, but this wasn't a stunning sale. Just a workday one. Most of the big money was realised on the classic cars, where an 1966 Aston Martin DB6 Sports Saloon (immediately above) topped the bill at £133,660 from an estimate of £60,000-£80,000.



—  Girl Happy



New police powers and penalties


In July 2013, new laws kick-in giving the rozzers extended powers to dole out fixed penalty notices for careless drivers, tailgaters, speedsters, lane hoggers, light-jumpers and hand-held mobile phone chin-waggers.


The existing £60 fine (for endorsable and non-endorsable offences) will rise to £100. The existing £120 fine (endorsable) will rise to £200


Alternately, offenders will retain the option of taking the matter before the beak and risk a higher penalty. Or aquittal. And re-training (for some offences) will also be on offer.


Note that there will be no change to the number of licence penalty points "awarded", and fines for parking/obstruction/waiting offences are also unchanged.


In view of the deteriorating driving standards in many parts of the British Isles, the new powers seem too little and too late. Moreover, there simply aren’t enough traffic coppers to go around anymore to enforce the changeswith most of them routinely loitering at roadsides with speed cameras looking for soft (and not necessarily dangerous) targets.


Also, it’s hard to see why Her Majesty’s government feels that a hundred quid rap on the knuckles for a driver blithely jabbering on a mobile phone warrants the same penalty as, say, stopping briefly on a London Red Route to put your waterproofs on in a sudden storm.


And it’s hard to reconcile that £100 fixed penalty for unlawful mobile phone use with the maximum fine for, say, cycling on the pavementwhich is five hundred quid (although in practice you’ll usually get a telling off or will be asked to fork out £30).


But then, modern UK governments have rarely, if ever, managed to consistently get the balance right between serious and trivial offences, hence the number of violent muggers, rapists and killers who regularly walk out of a court with little more than “a good dressing down” by the judge, and maybe a few hours of "community service".


Fines, remember, are just taxes. And as we've said before, the inverse of a fine is the right to break the law as long as you cough up the readies. Whereas we think that plenty of drivers (and riders) need a more substantial jerk on their leads and need to be taken off the road completely.

Still, what the hell do we know? Like Norman Wisdom on the banknote above, we’re just little people mostly out of our depth.


Meanwhile, fines for non-endorsable offences (failure to display a tax disc or unlawfully stopping on the motorway hard shoulder), have risen from £30 to £50, whilst the fine for driving without insurance rises from £200 to £300 fine.


Another fine mess? We certainly ain't impressed.


UPDATE: Click on any of the numbers below to read more about soft punishment Britain. Granted, we weren't there at any of the trials, and we try hard to avoid being reactionary. But the stories below are just a small sample from the Sump files. It's easy to see why public confidence in the British judiciary is low.


[1],   [2],   [3],   [4],   [5],   [6],   [7],  [8],  [9],   [10],  [11],  [12],   [13],
14],  [15],  [16],  [17],   [18],   [19],  [20]


—  Sam 7



Bonhams & Banbury 2013 reminder


Two major events for this weekend (June 15th and 16th 2013). Firstly, Bonhams will be holding its Banbury Run Sale on Saturday 15th June 2013 and fielding 35 complete bikes, plus a few basket cases and a Bantam that's got most of the big lumps in the right places.


Officially, the sale is for "Pioneer, Veteran and Vintage Motorcycles". But plenty of the lots are anything but. Regardless, it doesn't look like anything too earth shattering is on the block, but there are a few cheapies for anyone with small pockets and big ideas. We quite like the ratty 1960 T20 Triumph Tiger Cub (image above, courtesy of Bonhams) that carries an estimate of £1200-£1600, and which sounds about on the money.


Meanwhile, the VMCC's Banbury Run kicks off the following day, Sunday.

Open to veteran and vintage machines built before 31st December 1930s, this is one of those events that you've got to see at least once in your life, so better make it before you're dead.


It all happens at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire CV35 0BJ. That's two miles north of Banbury, next to M40 J12. The weather doesn't look too promising. But this is England, and England can take it. We invented grey skies and rain, and it looks like an unsettled couple of days with showers—not that we really believe the Met Office anymore.


Keep in mind that there's always an autojumble on the day, and remember that the Banbury relies upon volunteers for marshalling duties. It might be a bit late in the day, but if you want to try your hand and do your bit, check the link below.




—  Girl Happy



Cafe Racer Festival at Montlhery


We don't know much about this event because the press release was in French, but it looks like it's the first outing for a French Cafe Racer Weekend.


It takes place on the 22nd and 23rd June 2013 at the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhery, France.


Triumph, BMW and Honda are among the sponsors, and the organisers are hoping to see at least 200 bikes in attendance.


There will be "demo rides" in which you can parade your bike around the track. But the organisers are keen to emphasise that it's not racing. There are four categories, and you can book four 20 minute sessions for €100 per day. You'll also have to pay a compulsory insurance fee of €6.


Montlhery is located near the N20, about thirty kilometres south of Paris. It's accessible from the A6, A10 and the Francilienne (ring road).

The entrance fee is €10 for one day, and €15 for the weekend. We're advised that you can buy tickets upon arrival, and that there are no camping facilities at the track.

For more on this, you'll need to check the website and/or find yourself a translator. But you've been alerted to this event, so the rest is up to you.


—  Del Monte


Dirt Quake II


We missed this one. From our events listings, that is.


We don't do it often, but we're imperfect examples of an imperfect species living in an imperfect universe, and we're apt to screw up every once in a while—usually (but by no means exclusively) when we've put a few suds between our lips.


In any case, the organisers (tut, tut) failed to tip us off, but Davida did—albeit just a few days beforehand. But the press release didn't get looked at until about ten minutes ago, and here we are with our tails (and tales) between out legs trying to make light of it.


Anyway, Dirt Quake II took place at the Norfolk Arena in King's Lynn, Norfolk on Saturday 8th June 2012, and Davida fielded a team that included Christopher Gaime, Simon Mills, Frankie Grassi, Fiddy and Jules Watts. We don't know how they fared, but apparently no one died.


And in case you're not au fait with Dirt Quake, it's a riot of dirt bikes, choppers, flat trackers, and custom bikes, etc, organised by Sideburn magazine people, Dave Arnold, Gary Inman and Ben Part B.


We'll try and do better next year, but it helps if the organisers jerk our leads well in advance.


Apologies to Davida.



—  The Third Man



Historics at Brooklands results


They promised 100 bikes for the auction, claimed 87 on the day, but delivered just 74, of which only 36 were sold. In a word, this is disappointing.


However, you've got to cut these guys a little slack because this was the first time out for Historics which, prior to this auction, has focused on specialist classic cars and sports cars. Clearly, breaking into the (sometimes) lucrative world of motorcycle sales is a tougher than expected climb, especially in a market that appears to be cooling.


The 87 motorcycle lots actually included some bicycles and memorabilia, hence the lower number of motorcycles—which is a little disingenuous of Historics who clearly told us that 87 motorcycles were on offer.


We'll be generous here and put that down to "mis-communication". But the next time the firm ventures into this market, they might want to be very careful about what they say.


Here are some facts at a glance:


36 motorcycles sold

37 motorcycles unsold

1 motorcycle withdrawn (Triumph TR6)

None of the British V-twins sold

1 Vincent (1950 Black Lightning) is under offer as of 13/6/2013

5 bikes sold under estimate (albeit one only slightly under)

2 bikes sold over estimate


The BSA A10 (image above) did fairly well selling for £9,250 from an estimate of £8000-£10,000. It's a Rocket Gold Star lookalike, but the specification is unclear.


Overall, Historics must be licking a few wounds, not least because many of the motorcycles in this sale were very recently on the block at Cheffins. It's not clear what was the path from Cheffins to Historics, and we haven't analysed it too closely, but it appears that many of those bikes failed to sell the second time around. For more on this, see Sump's earlier report: 87 bikes for Historics at Brooklands.


—  The Third Man



Cameras to monitor cycle boxes?


Officially, these things are called Advance Stop Lines, or ASLs. But most people refer to them simply as "bike boxes". You know exactly how they work. You're on your motorcycle or ensconced in your car, and you come to a red light with a bike box carpet. Being motorised, you're obliged to stop at the first white line and leave the space ahead clear for the sweaty pedal pushers who are officially encouraged to line up across the carriageway in front of two thousand tons of traffic that's just waiting to mow 'em down at the first hint of green.


If there ain't any cyclists around, you still have to stop and leave the space clear. Except that currently, almost nobody in the UK is enforcing this no-go zone, and that's why Andrew “Sockpuppet” Gilligan of Transport for London (TfL) wants to do something about it.


Gilligan is TfL's London Cycling Commissioner. Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, gave him the job in January this year (2013), and Gilligan wants motorists to “show more respect to cyclists”. Quote/unquote.


Unsurprisingly perhaps, he’s a cyclist too and is said to be earning a whopping £38,000 a year of public money for a two day week, which is a long way north of minimum wage.


TfL now wants to decriminalise this infringement of the Highway Code rules by wielding what's called a “commencement order”. That would mean that Boris, Gilligan and Co can install roadside cameras, issue instant £60 fines with three penalty points, and pocket the money, so to speak.


That's boxing clever, and it seems most of the legal framework has been constructed which means that the cameras can’t be far behind.



Trouble is, it seems to us that these bike boxes are as daft as speed humps and serve merely to exacerbate problems rather than ameliorate them. Not only do the boxes unnecessarily expose cyclists to the obvious danger from impatient, short-sighted and careless drivers, but the boxes also force motorised traffic further back from junctions where much-needed lateral visibility is reduced.


Moreover, cars and motorcycles travel at greater velocities than bicycles and therefore need greater stopping distances with suitable deceleration "cushions". But a £60 fine and a three point cosh is likely to force motorists and motorcyclists to choose between two evils: Stop sharply and risk a cycle box fine, or run the red light and risk a smack from a nearby traffic cam.


Certainly, if you ride a motorcycle, bike box cameras could greatly increase the risk of being rear-ended as you screech to a halt with your hand on your wallet.


Regardless, this kind of black & white, blunt-instrument, remote policing is on the increase now that traffic cops have joined the endangered species list.


And TfL, which has already hijacked a huge amount of asphalt in the capital, is clearly looking to increase its property portfolio on the London Monopoly board. Granted, TfL has condescended to allow motorcycles access to most of its bus lanes. But it's made numerous errors on the cycling front (some of them fatal), and looks like it's on another collision course with stupidity.


Or is it? Currently, we’re not giving them the benefit of the doubt because we genuinely doubt the benefits. But sometimes counter-intuitive factors come into play, which is why we're watching this one carefully. And you should too.


The Cycle God is on a crusade, and the high priests at City Hall are only too anxious to convert the rest of us to what is rapidly becoming a new religion. It's a worry.

—  Dexxion




Peter Williams £65,000 replica


It was forty years ago that Peter Williams powered to victory at the Isle of Man TT riding a F750 John Player Norton. What made Williams such an accomplished rider was a combination of nerve, daring, determination—and a sound underpinning of the mechanics and dynamics of motorcycle engineering.


What made the bike so special, however, was the unique stainless steel monocoque chassis that gave the ageing 750cc Norton Commando engine a fresh lease of life and made it once more competitive.



During that 1973 race season, Peter lapped the TT circuit at 107.27mph, which was dangerously close to Mike Hailwood's 1967 record riding a Works Honda. In that same year, Williams was also the highest points scorer in the victorious Transatlantic Trophy team.


Today, Peter Williams Motorcycles Ltd is planning to capitalise on that
TT-winning achievement with a limited edition run of 25 replicas.


A pioneer of motorcycle cast wheels, disc brakes and beam frames, Williams' new bikes will be constructed using CAD technology and CNC laser cutting engineering. The engines will be built by Northamptonshire-based Norton specialist Mick Hemmings using new parts throughout together with a cam profile of Williams' own design. The wheels and front fork will be magnesium.



Each bike will cost £65,000. And that, we're advised, is about one quarter of the price of an original JPN racer, of which just four were built.


The impetus behind this project is not only to commemorate a forty year old Isle of Man victory, but to raise funds for Williams' new carbon fibre monocoque venture which is currently under development with support from Lotus.


Peter Williams Motorcycles Ltd. comprises the man himself, Greg Taylor (of motorcycle engineering firm GTME), and Mark Wells & Ian Wride of design consultancy Xenophya Design. Some reverse engineering was required where the original blueprints were not available, and all that's required now are the buyers.



—  Big End






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Classic bikes for sale

Cafe Racer T-shirt:
Vivo ergo veho

(I think, therefore I ride)


£15.99 plus P&P

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Copyright Sump Publishing 2012