He's name is Luis Castilla and he's just been hired by Harley-Davidson to represent the firm during its "Discover More" initiative. If you looked in on Sump February 2015, you might have read all about this. But we don't mind recapping for anyone who missed it.
Here's the deal: HD is engineering a huge sales push and will be visiting 20 European countries via an ambassador and a film crew.
A few months back, a competition was launched to find out who had the required qualifications, and it looks like our French friend pictured above astride a Harley-Davidson Sportster is the bloke.
He'll be enjoying a two month all-expenses paid tour whilst riding a 2015 Street Glide, and he'll keep the bike when the job is done. Also, he'll be richer by $25,000.
Harley-Davidson received over 10,000 applications posted from 27 countries, but Luis Castilla's application evidently impressed the company the most. Perhaps more to the point, he looks pretty photogenic and has hair and probably good teeth and will no doubt satisfy HD's marketing department (or is that too cynical of us?)
Either way, someone got the job and is likely to have a pretty good time starting in May 2015. So good luck to him.
Meanwhile, Castilla is reported as saying: “I am absolutely thrilled about this Harley-Davidson opportunity, which will, without a doubt, be the most amazing experience of my life. As a biker and a passionate traveller, Discover More 2015 is everything I’ve been looking for. Sharing the experience of riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle through Europe, listening to other people’s adventures and riding with them through their local towns will make this an extraordinary event and one that will become larger than the sum of its individual parts. I want to share my experience with others so they can feel just how incredible this journey will be.”
Now does that sound like a Frenchman speaking or the aforementioned marketing department at Milwaukee? When you figure it out, you'll see why we're so cynical around these parts.
— Big End
Assuming you believe The Sunday Times UK Rich List which is published today (Sunday 26th April 2015), Triumph supremo John Bloor has seen his personal fortune substantially increase (by around one third actually) over the past year and is now a fully fledged member of the British billionaire's club.
He started out as a plasterer from Measham, Leicestershire and progressed to building houses, hence Bloor Homes which is controlled by Bloor Holdings (which is also the parent company of Triumph Motorcycles).
In 1983, John Bloor bought the Triumph name and rights for £150,000. The original plan was to simply redevelop the recently defunct Meriden factory site, which he did. But the Triumph brand was the cherry on the cake, and is now considered by many to be the cake itself.
But John Bloor might tell you otherwise. It's the property arm of his empire that's brought home the bacon, and with the general improvement in the UK economy over the past year or two, the housing market has seen an upturn that's nicely fattened his wallet and kept a lot of people in work.
So what's he worth exactly? Who the hell knows? The Sunday Times doesn't really have any hard numbers. The best the paper can do is make informed guesses and present them as the truth. But it's reckoned that 71-year old Bloor is worth £1.024 billion (and Bloor isn't about to confirm or deny it because he's as reclusive as Lord Lucan and probably doesn't even talk to his bathroom mirror).
▲ It ain't the way that most of the world's tourists think of London. But if you dropped an atom bomb here on any Monday morning, there's a good chance you'll wipe out most of the billionaires in the Western hemisphere.
Now there's an idea, huh?
Meanwhile, the richest man/git/bastard (pick your epithet) in the UK is London-based Ukrainian businessman Len Blavatnik. This guy controls the Warner Music Group and has an estimated £13.17 billion fortune (and note that you don't have to be a Brit by birth to be on the UK Rich List; you need only be domiciled here, or have substantial business or personal connections—and/or a few politicians in your pocket).
Speaking of music, ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is now thought to be worth £730 million, which is up £20 million on last year. Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber is the second most financially successful muso with an estimated £650 million fortune.
Sir James Dyson (the vacuum cleaner bloke) with his £3.5 billion piggy bank is the richest man in the west of the UK (the list, note, is divided into regions and categories).
Lewis Hamilton is the richest sportsman with an estimated £88 million nest egg under his bonnet. And someone named Wayne Rooney is supposedly worth a miserable £72 million.
However, after the first six zeroes, who's counting? Well a lot of folk actually. But here at Sump, it's all Monopoly money. That said, this list further serves to underline the increasing polarisation of wealth in the western world. The UK, it seems, has more billionaires per capita than any other country on the planet, and the focus of their interest is London.
The revolution has gotta come sooner or later, amigos, but probably not in our lifetimes.
If you're into brat bikes, bobbers, choppers and cafe racers, you might appreciate this timely reminder. The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club (BSMC) is holding another of their popular custom bike shows from Friday 22nd May 2015 to Sunday 24th May 2015 (Important: check the extra date information below).
The venue is Tobacco Dock, which is located in Wapping London (about half a mile or so east of Tower Bridge. Tobacco Dock itself is a pretty cool looking place, and it will add plenty to the general ambience of this event.
The organisers held a couple of smaller shows a year or so ago in nearby Shoreditch, London (we attended the second, which was okay), then they moved the event to Tobacco Dock. Next they organised a show for Paris, which went down on 11th & 12th April 2015. Now it's back to Tobacco Dock.
This is a three day exhibition, by the way (check supplementary information below), and we're not sure that that's very wise. Sometimes (but by no means always) a one-day show delivers more punch and generally serves to better focus attention.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of very interesting steel, aluminium, leather and rubber being rolled into the spotlight, and the brat/bobber/chopper/cafe racer scene is still fermenting and producing some very interesting brews. The doors open at 10.00am on the Friday, and will close on Sunday at 6.00pm. The price on the gate is £15. Parking facilities at Tobacco Dock are very good.
▲ 1981 Honda CB750 courtesy of Jordi Ciscar of Octopus Soul Bikes in Barcelona, Spain. Shortened front fork and rear shocks. Low bars, chopped 'guards, a mini-speedometer and a lot of attitude completes the brat look.
▲ Deep Creek Cycle Works BMW. This Belgian born brat bike started life as 1980 R100RS, and has been transformed into "The Distinguished Gentleman" as exhibited at the last BSMC event at Tobacco Dock.
Triumph Motorcycles is supporting this event, and you can expect a pretty good turn out of the various players and faces in the UK alternative motorcycle scene, plus some fringe attractions.
Note that we've seen some confusing details from the organisers regarding this event. Certainly, the graphic immediately above (taken from the BSMC website) suggests that it's just a two day event. But we've seen the show posted elsewhere as a three day affair. We tried to contact the organisers, but they can be very elusive and hard to pin down. So best check their website nearer the day for the latest. Meanwhile, here's the address of the venue: Tobacco Dock, 50 Porters Walk, St Katharine's & Wapping, London E1W 2SF.
It's interesting too to see how down-market, council housing estate Wapping (an area that we know very well having grown up around those parts) is now being promoted as St Katharine's & Wapping (a reference to St Katharine's Dock where a lot of rich folk moor their floating toys). But maybe Wapping deserves another shot. Most of the old riverside wharves have, after all, since been converted into very expensive flats, and the Porsches and Aston Martins down in the street are slowly displacing the Mothercare baby buggies.
All that aside, the Tobacco Dock show looks to be pretty good if you're into the cool, retro, attitude bike thing. We've got mixed feelings on the scene, but there's no doubt there's a lot of creativity at work here, and you're bound to pick up a few ideas and hints if you're working on a similar project. Just remember to check those dates.
— Del Monte
Check with Sump February 2015 for the back-story on this bike. But simply put, it's the latest version of designer Peter Manning's self-assembly full-sized plastic Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide kit. Only, Manning doesn't refer anywhere to the Harley-Davidson trademark, hence the Route 66 brand.
This "Rusty Blue" version is an "aged" update on the original (red) Route 66 kit. The kits are in production now, and the price is pegged at £525. And they really are full-sized and very portable. So you can use them to promote your Harley parts business, or hang on the wall outside your biker bar, or take with you on your next parachute jump. As with anything, you're limited only by your imagination.
If you want one, Manning is asking for a 20 percent deposit, which equates to £105. And for an extra £200 he can assemble the kit on your behalf.
Note: We had a little trouble making a connection with this link. But we got there after a few attempts. If your usual web browser doesn't do it for you, you might want to try another.
— Girl Happy
As of 15th April 2015, Erik Buell Racing (EBR) has closed its doors, laid off all its 126 staff, shut down its website, and filed for US Chapter 128 insolvency protection (allowing it to fend off creditors while the firm seeks to clear its debts of $13 million—variously quoted at over $20 million—or re-launch with new finance).
Here's the simplified Buell story:
1984: Erik Buell, a successful ex-motorcycle racer and Harley-Davidson employee, launches the Buell Motor Company.
1987: Harley-Davidson takes a 49 percent stake in the business.
1998: The Buell Motor Company is re-launched as the Buell Motorcycle Company. Harley-Davidson takes a 51 percent share of this company.
2003: Harley-Davidson buys the remaining 49 percent and takes complete control of the Buell Motorcycle Company. Erik Buell is now an HD employee again, and is in overall control of design and engineering. Buell motorcycles are available through all HD dealerships.
2008: Harley-Davidson, facing huge financial problems, shuts down its Buell Division.
2009: Erik Buell, after a contractual one year's stop on rival trading, launches Erik Buell Racing (EBR). Buell uses most of his own money and financial resources to get the business up and running, but is under-financed.
2013: Indian firm Hero MotoCorp buys a 49 percent stake in EBR. The price paid is $25 million. Hero anticipates sales of 20,000 units by 2017 (Note that EBR sold just 65 bikes in 2012). Erik Buell's expertise is used to develop existing Hero products.
2015: EBR is bust.
So where does it leave Buell dealers and customers? At the moment, the dust still hasn't settled. But many dealers are aggrieved at the unexpected news having invested a lot of time and money into EBR. Some dealers have recently re-equipped their showrooms and bought new stock. Meanwhile, support for customer bikes is, at best, uncertain.
Erik Buell has been quoted as saying: “The turn we recently took [with Hero], after we thought we were moving forward, was unexpected. We thought we had secured funding but, in the end, we were not able to get the funding in place. Therefore we need to do the best we can under the circumstances for all parties with an interest. To say this setback is a disappointment does not begin to express what I feel right now. I am personally grateful for the support of our outstanding workers, customers and vendors. While this is a sad ending, I hope for a new and better beginning.”
▲ 1989 Buell RS1200. This was the bike that, for many, put Buell on the map. Powered by a near standard Harley-Davidson Sportster engine, Erik Buell created a slick rubber mount system, tuned the pipes, boosted the braking, put the right bounce in the suspension, and gave the world a whole new spin. Heavy up top, and a little ponderous at time, it was nevertheless an interesting motorcycle, and a future classic. The seat tail-piece doubles as a pillion backrest. The rubber mounts liberate a lot of power.
▲ Erik Buell's final model, the EBR 1190RX. It weighs just 419 pounds, churns out 185 horsepower and boasts 102 ft-lbs of torque @ 8,200rpm. Built at EBR's plant in East Troy, Wisconsin, the 1190c liquid-cooled
V-twin was priced at a creditable £14,000 in the UK. It's a real loss.
Was this financial collapse inevitable? Perhaps. If Harley-Davidson, with its huge resources and global clout, couldn't make Buell work, it begs the question of whether this niche motorcycle was ever a long term viable project. Certainly Erik Buell's reach exceeded his grasp. And certainly, the man is something of a motorcycle visionary and a racer/engineer of no mean repute.
But in the world of commercial hard knocks, all that means very little if the right products can't find the right number of buyers. Had the world economy been in slightly better shape, EBR might still be solvent. But as it stands, it's all over—unless 65 year old Erik Buell can find sufficient funds and energy to take another crack at this market.
— Sam 7
If you remember when The Love Bug first hit the screens, you'll probably want to sit down and rest those aching joints while you read this, because you're not exactly a spring chicken now. This 1968 movie was an instant delight for cinema goers of all ages, and didn't do anything to hurt sales of Volkswagen Beetles.
The mid- to late-sixties was a great era for cool car movies. The lesser known stock car themed film Fireball 500 of 1966 (starring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello and Fabian) helped set the pace and the tone, but The Love Bug was the one that caught the biggest wave (and in fact opened with stock car racing scenes borrowed from Fireball 500). At the box office, this Disney Production earned $51 million.
Other great "car movies" of the 1960s include:
Grand Prix, 1966
Le Mans, 1967
Thunder Alley, 1967
The Italian Job, 1969
Also check out:
Hot Rod Rumble, 1957
Two Lane Blacktop, 1971
Vanishing Point, 1971 (arguably the best of the lot)
American Graffiti, 1973
▲ Fireball 500. This 1968 stock car/beach party movie was a box office flop and is a long way from anything that Shakespeare ever wrote. But it's nevertheless an enjoyable piece of celluloid hokum with plenty of exciting girls, and plenty of exciting car racing scenes. Check it out when you have the opportunity. You'll feel young (ish) again.
There were four spin-off Love Bug movies. The Bug that's now up for sale was last used in Herbie Goes Bananas (1980). The VW has been altered and restored over the years, but it's generally considered pretty authentic.
So how much might it make at auction? No one has any reliable estimates. There are a few genuine Love Bugs knocking around, and they don't come up on the block too often. US firm Barrett-Jackson is handling the sale which takes place on 17th - 19th April 2015 at Palm Beach, Florida.
— Del Monte
Ronnie Carroll: 1934 - 2015
He was 1950s and 1960s teenage heartthrob and was once one of the most recognised faces in the UK. We're talking about Ronnie Carroll who has died aged eighty.
Perhaps most famous for the song Roses Are Red (My Love), Carroll also had hits with Say Wonderful Things; Walk Hand In Hand; and The Wisdom Of A Fool.
He represented Britain in the Eurovision Song Contest of 1962 and 1963, helped launch the sixties TV music show Oh Boy!, hobnobbed with many of the big names of the day, and was once married to singer, comedienne and actress Millicent Martin (you'll perhaps remember her best for her regular appearances in the TV show That Was The Week That Was, and/or as the girl at the beginning and end of the seminal movie, Alfie).
Ronnie Carroll had a rollercoaster ride through his life. He struggled with a gambling addiction, lost all of his money on a failed business venture in Grenada, was apt to hit the bottle pretty hard, and saw his career shift from a relatively successful singing idol ("with all the sex I could get") to a food stall vendor (in London's Camden Town).
He flirted with politics too, and in various general elections he stood as a candidate for ("loony") fringe parties. At the time of his death (13th April 2015), he was listed as an independent candidate for the May 2015 General Election Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency (and as the ballot papers have been printed, he could still draw votes and theoretically win the seat—although in practice, he probably won't).
He was born Ronald Cleghorn in Belfast, Northern Ireland and died in Hampstead, London. Throughout the trials and tribulations of his life, he managed to keep his spirits up, and had even recently recorded a comeback album.
Ronnie Carroll is survived by three sons and a daughter.
— The Third Man
▲ Lot 36, a 1959 Royal Enfield Super Meteor. This 700cc parallel twin is said to be very original and features the correct coil ignition system and Siamese exhaust. It goes under the hammer later this month. It will require recommissioning.
This is the Stondon Motor Museum collection which has been in business for 21 years and finally closed its doors on Monday, 6 April 2015 (Easter Monday).
The museum, located at Lower Stondon, Bedfordshire, was founded by the late John Saunders. In recent years, it's been managed by John's son, Chris who runs a car dealership. But rising business rates, reduced museum footfall, the loss of a renewed lease and other business commitments means that it's all over bar the selling.
Auction house Brightwells is handling the sale which will take place on Wednesday 29th April 2015.
The earliest machine is a 1915 Radco. The most recent is a 1985 Honda Gold Wing. Not all the machines are running, but apparently all the engines turn over. All are being offered with no reserve.
Some of the machines at the museum, incidentally, are privately owned and will not be part of the sale.
Other motorcycle lots include:
1935 Sunbeam Model 9
1950 Royal Enfield Model G
1951 Sunbeam S7
1954 Vincent Comet Series C
1957 Douglas Dragonfly
1958 Ariel NH 350 Red Hunter
1964 Triumph 6T Thunderbird
1971 Norton Commando
Meanwhile, on Wednesday June 10th 2015, a second auction will take place to handle the sale of 140 motor vehicles previously on display at the Stondon museum. The lots include a Romany caravan, a helicopter, a Russian rocket launcher, a replica of Stephenson's Rocket, various armoured vehicles, buses and fire engines.
▲ Lot 65 is a 799cc 1924 AJS Model D V-twin. It's showing "evidence of long term storage" but "looks all the better for it." You won't be eligible for the Pioneer Run with this, but it's ripe for Banbury.
▲ Lot 0, a 5,100cc 1926 AEC 413 single-decker. No reserve. It's one of 140 non-motorcycle lots at the sale. There could be some kind of income in there somewhere (TV work, weddings, historic rides, etc). But it will probably end up in another museum.
It's usually a shame when these things happen. The museum was much loved by its many visitors. But clearly it's had its day, and it's time to move on. The best anyone can do is perhaps offer a good home to these classics?
Interested? Check the Brightwells site and make your play. You really can get some great bargains if you bother to play the auction game.
— Del Monte
Goldtop classic fleece-lined gauntlets
At Sump, we don't recommend too many products. That's because for us, a lot of the stuff out there simply fails to launch. Over the years, we've owned classic crash helmets from a well-known crash helmet manufacturer, and the lids were as uncomfortable as hell and constantly slipped around our noggins. We've tried jackets from some of the (allegedly) best manufacturers in the business, and within a couple of seasons the seams frayed and the zips failed. And we've had footwear from various big names that split and leaked and generally failed to satisfy.
But these classic fleece-lined gauntlets from Goldtop are as good as it gets. They look great, they feel great, and the price is right at £49.99 plus £4.80 (recorded) postage and packing.
The gauntlets are manufactured from 1.1mm quality aniline cowhide. They'll age naturally well and will offer years, if not decades, of riding pleasure. But you'll need to look after them, and you'll probably want to.
Ours came with a complimentary tin of leather food. Generously apply some of that a few times each season, and you'll see these gloves mature well and continue to keep the worst of the elements on the right side of your digits. There's also a neat palm pad sewn in that helps spread the wear and gives you that all important extra grip.
We've tried our gauntlets in the wet and in the dry, by the way. So okay, you're never going to get the same kind of top-flight, state-of-the-art, ultra-expensive H20 protection from classic kit such as this. But when it comes to fit, feel and traditional style, we're perfectly happy with these at the ends of our wrists. And if you plan on riding through a lot of storms, treat yourself to a pair of Gortex over-mittens.
An extra £12.99, or thereabouts, will get you a healthy supply of leather food for your own gloves. And we recommend that too if you want to savour these gauntlets (and they're worth savouring).
We opted for black, but the gloves are also available at the same price in classic brown fleece-lined leather. Go check out Goldtop's website. There's a lot of new and interesting kit in the pipeline.
— Big End
Poor recent sales of Sportsters, Dynas, Softails and V-Rods has led to 169 staff (out of 750) being "temporarily" laid-off for five months at HD's Kansas, Missouri plant. The cuts are due to start in May 2015, and will see a return to work in October.
That's the plan, anyway.
The problem is one of over-production. Missouri is one of 25 US "right-to-work" states. Under these rights, employees cannot be coerced into joining a trades union, or paying fees into one. That limits the collective bargaining clout of the union or unions, and that makes it hard for the company to negotiate issues such as wage rises—or, in this case, possible wage cuts. Therefore, Harley-Davidson has opted to cut production as a mechanism to use up excess stock in the dealer supply chain.
The Kansas, Missouri plant also assembles India-manufactured CKD (Complete Known Down) kits designed to assemble 750cc street machines for the home market (see image above, this story). These new entry-level cruisers are selling well (according to Harley-Davidson sources). But other models are backing up, and this is partly why Harley-Davidson share values have recently fallen.
— Del Monte
Mecum's Walker Sign Collection results
Vernon Walker's lifelong collection of commercial signs was sold on 27th - 29th March 2015 at Mecum Auction's West Memphis, Arkansas sale.
Totalling 400 lots, a mixture of neon lit and single- and double-sided porcelain adverts, the top seller was the Weakley Equipment Co sign (image right) that made $125,000. The brand isn't well known (if known at all) in the UK. But in the United States, the company is well respected and is still trading.
The eleven and a half feet tall sign cost $8,000 when new in 1948. It might look pretty staid, but it's an animated advertisement in which the legs "walk", the mower blades "rotate" and even the grass clippings "fly".
The oldest lot in the collection was the above 1924 Goodyear Tyres sign. Made of tin with milk glass lettering, it fetched a cool $100,000. It was manufactured by the Flexlume Corporation of Buffalo, New York, is backlit, and is nine feet wide.
Arguably, the most striking sign in the sale is the above Mobil Oil Pegasus. It fetched $72,500. Designed to rotate, the neon-lit, double-sided horse is constructed largely from porcelain. It's six feet wide.
Many of these ultra rare gems were headed for the junk pile when Vernon Walker stepped in half a century ago to save them. Other items in the collection included advertising material for Dodge Brothers, Studebaker, Nash, Lincoln, Dixie Gasoline & Oils, Chevrolet, De Soto, Oldsmobile, plus beers signs and farm equipment signs and other prime examples of commercial and industrial Americana.
Said Vernon Walker, "I'm 74 years old and I've got to do something with them! It's certainly not that I don't enjoy them anymore. It was just that I figured they should be hung up so other people can enjoy them too."
So what was the total hammer sale price? $4.65 million.
— The Third Man