Now don't all bloody well rush at once because we're trying to get in a lot of miles behind our handlebars now that the riding season is (theoretically) full upon us. And that's why we're spending less and less time at the Sump computers and more and more time elsewhere.
That said, we've just updated our "Classic bikes for sale" section, and it might be worth a few minutes of your equally precious time. As we've explained on the relevant page, we don't work this feature anywhere near as hard as we might. But the ads are free, and if you send us a snapshot with details, we'll probably find a place for whatever you'd like to add to the list.
Just try and remember to let us know if and when your wheels (or parts) sell.
The bike above, incidentally, is a 1936 250cc Red Panther courtesy of Suffolk dealer Andy Tiernan. It's just come into his stock. He's asking £4,250. Call him on: 01728 724321.
Classic bikes for sale
— Girl Happy
It's promised to be "the most desirable and valuable classic car rally ever staged in Britain". It will begin on Friday 10th July 2015 at Brooklands in Surrey and will end on Saturday 11th July 2015 at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
There will be a VIP drinks reception, a "spectacular gala dinner", presentations, celebrity Q&A, VIP entertainment, an auction, TV's own Quentin Wilson pressing the flesh and making a telly programme, a breakfast, a luncheon and guest speakers.
Throughout, the event will be "embodying the spirit of Goodwood and the Mille Miglia". The organisers have plotted a 100 mile route.
Among the vehicular entrants will be numerous very desirable Aston Martins, various drop-dead-gorgeous Ferraris, a Lamborghini Miura or two, a brace of Maseratis, a posse of Porsches, half a dozen or so rare and exotic Mercs, and any number of other in-yer-face examples of fast, furious and/or luxury automobilia.
The combined value of the rolling hardware? That's anyone's guess, but we're quite possibly looking at a few million to plenty of millions depending on how many members of the public heed the appeal, dust off their wheels, don their tuxedos and join the throng—which is what the organisers are hoping for. A mass parade.
So what's the charity?
Yeah. Nearly forgot. That's HOPEHIV, "a unique and inspirational charity which supports orphans and vulnerable young people in Africa."
Okay. Sounds good. On paper. At least, it does until you read that the target amount of dosh the event is hoping to raise is a measly £150,000, which might sound like big money, but is actually is a derisory drop in an ocean of misery. Here's an extract from the organiser's mission statement:
"We are defined by being positive and passionate about potential: by helping to realise the potential of the most vulnerable children, we are enabling them to change the future from the bottom up."
If anyone out there has any idea what the hell that means, drop us an email. We certainly can't figure it out.
But what are we bitching about here? Well, we're bitching because for all the supposed munificence and good intentions, it all comes down to a bunch of mostly well-heeled automobilista planning to having a little motorised fun & bubbly under cover of helping allay some serious human suffering going on elsewhere in the world.
You're right, that's a terminally cynical view. But we're all adults here, and we know how it works.
▲ Here are some needy (but happy) black fellows who could really benefit when you drive your Ferrari 250 SWB around Shakespeare country.
Don't misunderstand us. We haven't got a grievance against the rich, per se. And we certainly don't mind the idea of gallivanting around the British countryside and showing off in ultra-expensive motors. We just feel that if you want to make a genuine donation, just drop a few quid (or guineas) in the collection tin and spare us the pretence and the bleedin' heart rhetoric.
But hey, does it matter how the money rolls (or trickles) in? Well we think it does actually. It's partly in the implied notion that the world's problems can be solved from behind a steering wheel, and it's partly the raw cynicism that underlies the event (which far eclipses any cynicism of ours). Mostly, however, it's the sly disconnect between those who have, and those who very desperately haven't.
It's said that charity begins at home. Well for the organisers of this event, it seems that it begins more specifically in the garage.
— Big End
For decades, BB King has been rightly fêted as the king of the blues, for the modern generation anyway. And now he's gone and died on us aged just 89.
Well okay, that's a pretty good innings even these days. But we take little comfort from that fact. This soulful, irrepressible, indefatigable twelve bar virtuoso has plunked his last string, and that would be bad news however old he was.
He came from a humble background in the backwoods of Mississippi where he was effectively orphaned at an early age after his mother and father separated leaving him with his maternal grandmother. He was soon picking cotton for a living before being promoted to a tractor driver, then did a stint in the US Army serving in an all-black company.
His early interest in gospel singing morphed into playing delta blues, and he soon began covering the songs of all the greats, (and often the not so greats). He recorded hundreds of tracks, much of the early stuff at the legendary Sun Records studio in Memphis where a certain Elvis Presley was still working out his hip-swinging routines, honing his tonsils and dying his hair.
Rarely seen without his famous ES-355 Gibson guitar (nicknamed Lucille), it was as if "Blues Boy" King constantly reinvented himself for each new generation, yet somehow managed to stay exactly where he'd been at the beginning. But in truth, he did (controversially) modify his tones and playing style and thereby incur the wrath of many hardened bluesmen who felt that in the true Bob Dylan/Marc Bolan tradition he'd "sold out" which probably just gave his detractors something else to whinge about (and, take note, we've been with Dylan and Bolan all the way).
During his career, BB King worked a gruelling and often non-stop touring schedule, and year after year he filled hundreds of venues and made numerous promoters and record companies a lot of money (a little of which even found its way into his pockets). He strummed it for presidents, and he strummed it for the odd pope. But mostly he strummed it for himself and his fans who had an insatiable appetite for his musical output.
There was nothing really clever, catchy or trick about BB King's playing style. It was mostly fairly simple blues licks and double-stops played straight from the heart.
His contemporaries included Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. His fans include Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Page, and just about any other rock axemen you care to name. But his personal heroes were the likes of T-Bone Walker, Lonnie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson.
BB King was married twice, divorced twice, and when he wasn't playing his guitar, he brought 15 lives into the world. A gentleman. A modest man. And unarguably a true bluesman right up to the end, he will be truly dead and gone only when people stop playing his music, and that could be a long time hence. In fact, as we write these lines we've got one of his albums vibrating the desktop speakers.
We're having an extra pint tonight for actress Grace Lee Whitney who has died. She was born Mary Ann Chase in Ann Arbor Michigan, USA, had her name changed by the family who adopted her, and became world famous as Yeoman Janice Rand in the TV series Star Trek.
Were we the only guys who watched Star Trek with our tongues hanging loose and our phasers at the ready whenever she appeared on screen? Probably not. With that medieval beehive hairdo, the implausible soft focus, that ultra short skirt and those stockings (okay, probably just tights), she gave Star Trek an extra shot of glamour and did nothing to harm the show's ratings.
Her character, we hear, was created to give Captain Kirk something warm to snuggle up to after a hard day at the helm. But it seems that the producers changed their minds and wanted William-Kirk-Shatner to snog pretty much whatever galactic floozy came his way, so Yeoman Rand (which isn't quite what we called her) got the old heave-ho leaving the captain to suck face with gay abandon.
Whitney did make it back into Star Trek in various feature films (as a lieutenant, now). Apparently, this was after Dr McCoy (the late great DeForest Kelley) saw her in an unemployment line and took pity. He prescribed a few movies and told her, in all honesty, that Trekkies everywhere were clamouring to see her back on the big screen (and we don't mind admitting that her re-appearance brought the odd tear to our eyes too).
▲ The all-girl jazz band from the classic Billy Wilder film Some Like it Hot. One of them is Grace Lee Whitney, but we can't spot her. Can you?
But Whitney did more than Star Trek. If you saw the movie Some Like it Hot starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, then you also saw Grace Lee Whitney. She was a member of the all-girl band who were on their way to Florida. Later, she turned up in numerous US TV shows including Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, The Rifleman (remember that one starring Chuck Connors?), 77 Sunset Strip, The Untouchables, Bewitched and Batman. Later still, she had small roles in Cannon, Hart to Hart, and Diagnosis Murder.
Whitney was something of a warbler too. She started out on radio and sung with various bands and orchestras of the day. She released a few records too, did a tour of duty on the alcohol and substance abuse circuit, recovered, married, had a few kids, and kept us glued to Star Trek re-runs.
But she was clearly a survivor and made it all the way to age 85 before God beamed her up. We all loved her. We'll miss her. And we'll probably get over it.
Join us tonight and raise a pint in memory of Grace, if you will.
It looks like Brightwells did okay with its Stondon Motor Museum auction held on Wednesday 29th April 2015. The firm announced 60 lots in the sale, but we counted 69, all of which sold except for two that were withdrawn.
The top seller was the above 1954 500cc Vincent Comet Series C. It fetched £16,000. The bike was offered with no reserve and boasted matching numbers and a V5C. First registered in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Comet carries the original registration number, TVK 960. Stondon Motor Museum bought the machine in 1991 and kept it warm and dry (and unused) for 24 years.
Here are five more top selling lots:
Lot 68: 1920 400cc ABC, horizontally opposed twin, £14,000
Lot 65: 1924 800cc AJS Model D, V-twin, £10,500
Lot 66: 1935 500cc Sunbeam Model 9, single, £9,000
Lot 43: 1961 600cc BSA M21, single (AA sidecar combination), £8,000
Lot 39: 1937 600cc Panther M100, single, (fitted with a Gow swinging arm conversion), £5,000.
▲ Lot 48. 1954 500cc Triumph 5T. This unmolested, four-bar tank, sprung-hub Speed Twin sold for £4,400 which, even with commission, we think was maybe five hundred quid or so below the average UK market price. The numbers match. The Amaranth Red colour is right. It's a vintage trumpet from the golden age.
▲ Lot 37. 1954 650cc Triumph 6T. This Thunderbird fetched just £5,000 on the hammer (as opposed to around £6,000-plus for the current average UK market value). Polychromatic blue. Matching numbers. Unmolested. Very nice.
Overall, this wasn't exactly the sale of the century. But it was a near 100% conversion, so Brightwells got the job done. It's a pity that Stondon Motor Museum had to close in order to provide the bikes. But that's how the merry-go-round of life works, not least in the classic motorcycle world. See Sump April 2015 for more on the Stondon Motor Museum closure.
— Del Monte
▲ Steve Harris (left) and Siddhartha Lal, CEO of Royal Enfield. Check their expressions and decide for yourself who's most enthusiastic about the deal that's just been signed.
According to Royal Enfield's PR company, Tangerine, this is...
... so hold tight to your handlebars everyone because this story could run and run. On the other hand, it might also be seen as no big deal, except for Steve Harris, Lester Harris and Stephen Bayford who founded Harris Performance Products a little over 30 years ago.
Royal Enfield, underpinned by the giant Eicher Motors Group (which built its fortunes around tractors), currently has very deep pockets and is happily splashing the cash around and buying up whatever it can to further improve its product. But the boys at Harris are keeping tight-lipped about how much the deal was worth (don't think we didn't check).
Suffice to say that everything that once belonged to Harris Performance, including the staff, the intellectual property, the tooling, the trade names and the technical nous, now belongs to Royal Enfield. It will all become part of RE's new UK Tech Centre as and when the walls go up and the roof goes on.
Harris, you might recall, was responsible for designing the chassis for the current Royal Enfield Continental—which, some might say, is a bit like having NASA design a clothes rack for ASDA's George range.
Be that as it may, the ink has dried and we can expect to see Royal Enfield splashing the Harris name around wherever and whenever it can. We're glad to see that three British boys have made good on their commercial creation, but it's a shame to see yet another British brand lose its independence, and thereby much of its cachet.
— Sam 7
He's credited as being the man who invented the one-piece racing suit, was one of the fastest racers of his day, won 33 Grand Prix races (350cc & 500cc), won six TT races (Senior, Junior and Manx), and in 1951 was voted Sportsman of the Year, and in 1953 was appointed OBE. This is Geoff Duke who has died aged 92.
He was born in St Helen, Lancashire and started riding on a 1923 Raleigh. He worked for a while as an engineer for the General Post Office (as it was then) and travelled around on a 175cc DOT.
In 1942, aged just 19, he signed up for military service and became a motorcycle instructor with the Royal Corp of Signals. Post-war, he worked briefly for BSA and Norton.
By 1948 he had begun his racing career at the Junior Isle of Man Grand Prix. He was riding a 350cc Norton but failed to finish (due to a split oil tank). However, the following year he tasted victory at Haddenham, and later that season he also won the senior Manx Grand Prix and the Senior Clubman’s TT.
Suddenly he was on a roll, both literally and metaphorically, and for all competing riders he was the man to watch, and the man to beat. His riding style was noted for its fluidity, his manners noted for their grace. He was a gentleman rider of the old school, and courted controversy when he switched from Norton (for whom he'd notched up three world championship wins) to Gilera, a foreigner company from a nation (Italy) that just a few years earlier had been at war with Britain.
Nevertheless, Geoff Duke saw the multi-cylinder future coming straight at him, and he wanted to get out there to meet it head on. In doing so, he became the first rider to win the 500cc world championship three times in succession.
There was yet more controversy when, on another occasion, he became involved in motorcycle racing politics when he lobbied for better start money for fellow riders. That earned him a six-month ban. But his intervention had an impact and helped change the finances of the sport.
His motorcycle racing career ended in 1959. But the need for speed was still there and, not for the first time, he tried his luck with four-wheeled motor racing (he had driven for Aston Martin). But in 1961, Duke crashed a Formula One Cooper and suffered serious injuries that put paid to his motor racing career. Presently he took up residence on the Isle of Man and became involved in numerous business ventures including the hotel trade and helping set up the first roll-on, roll-off ferry to the island.
In 1981, he established Duke Marketing which for some time has been run by his son, Peter and routinely employs over 50 staff. Among other things, the business publishes and distributes sporting DVDs.
In his later years, Geoff Duke assumed an easier life and settled into being one of the Isle of Man's grand old heroes and ambassadors. His final months were spent in a local nursing home.
He was by no means the most flamboyant or dashing racer of his era (although he certainly cut a unique style). But he earned his spurs competing at the biking front line, and proved that when it came to motorcycle racing, the Duke was nothing if not a king.
It's written by Nigel Clark, is published by Crowood Press, and is priced at £35 (hardback), or £28 from the Crowood website.
This title, we're advised, is "a complete workshop guide to restoring and maintaining your classic British motorcycle".
The dimensions are 210mm x 296mm. There are around 800 images and diagrams (mostly colour). The covers are hard, not soft. And the book number is ISBN: 9781847978813.
We've got a copy (courtesy of Crowood) and have been reading and thumbing through the pages for the past few days, and we've got mixed feelings. Firstly, the book isn't really in-depth enough to impress anyone who's seriously looking to maintain or rebuild his or her classic bike, and (secondly) much of the content is likely to go straight over the head of anyone new to the scene and uninitiated in the lore.
In other words, this volume presumes a certain amount of knowledge/savvy, but doesn't do enough to feed the appetite of the more serious enquirer. Meanwhile, the design is run-of-the-mill, the pictures range between not bad and not good, the picture quality is often flat and lifeless, and the captions are mostly pithy and trite. Such as:
"There's no better way to blow out the winter cobwebs than a ride-out on your favourite classic."
"A brand new Vincent Black Shadow, sir? No problem, that'll be £a lot, please."
"You'll always find nice bikes and interesting people to talk to at any classic or vintage gathering."
Clearly, a fair amount of thought has been put into this one, but the book covers much of the same old turf without giving us a fresh grass on which to graze—which probably won't make a lot of difference to someone new on the scene who hasn't heard it all a dozen times before, but to the rest of us, it feels stale.
The writing is okay, if maybe a little clunky in places. For example:
"So with the outbreak of peace, they [the factories] had no new designs and even those lucky enough to have any tooling survive at all were left behind as the likes of Triumph had a head start. Many never reappeared at all."
"The government had requisitioned all Triumph production to be for the military, but the original Coventry factory was bombed out in the devastating blitzkrieg raid of November 1940. As is (or at least was) the British way, with backs to the wall, a temporary factory was established in Warwick, tooling repaired and made good and production restarted in double quick time. Meanwhile, a new factory was built at Meriden, a village between Coventry and Birmingham, and one Edward Turner set about designing a twin-cylinder machine, which, once the war was over, would be ready to set new standards and leave the opposition floundering in Triumph's wake."
Note too that that twin-cylinder machine was actually the Speed Twin which was in fact designed in 1936-1937, therefore pre-war. And later, there's a (caption) suggesting that the Tiger 100 was "a breathtaking sports machine within the financial reach of most..."
Only, you pretty much had to be in the professional classes to afford that kind of hardware. The average working guy was riding far more humble machines, and largely singles and two-strokes.
The book index isn't as helpful as it might be, either. The overall aim is more shotgun than sniper rifle. And the overview is limited with some stark omissions (nothing much on two-strokes; almost nothing about the cornerstone motorcycles; nothing much on the key personalities, or designers, or events, or traders, etc. And no list of classic marques).
So the book is terrible, huh? No. It's got some useful stuff in there. It's just not properly thought through, and the book doesn't sparkle in any way. Had we been able to say "at least it's very funny", or "but the pictures are great", or "this really is a new way of seeing old stuff", that would mitigate our negativity.
Instead, the book is kinda ho-hum. Useful, but not essential. Informative, but questionable in places. And certainly not exciting or desirable—and it might have been produced any time since the 1980s.
You'd maybe forgive it all that if it was priced at fifteen to twenty quid (which might be unrealistic). But at £35 (RRP), we'd expect something ... sharper.
— Big End
His name is Simon Hollingworth, he hails from Suffolk, and he's just collected his wheels from the National Motorcycle Museum (NMM); a brand new Norton Commando 961 cafe racer. The winning ticket number was 1592999. The bike was the first prize offered by the NNM in its Winter Raffle, and a pretty cool prize it is too.
The second prize was a 1958 BSA C12 250cc. The winner of that was Mr Ken Hill from the West Midlands. The ticket number was 0272203.
The third prize was "a luxury classic weekend break for two people at www.thewindmillvillagehotel.co.uk". Mr Michael Rust from Northamptonshire won that with ticket number 1094443. Racers Nick and Tony Jefferies, by the way, drew the winners at this year's Stafford Show.
▲ Motorcycle raffle prizes don't come much better than this 1947 Vincent. Or do they? Tickets are just £2. If we could figure out how to rig the draw, we would. But then, for a bike like this, who wouldn't?
Meanwhile, the NMM has issued details of its Summer Raffle, the first prize being a 998cc 1947 Vincent Rapide (image immediately above) built to “Black Shadow” specification. Apparently, the museum handled the upgrade in its own workshops.
Second prize is a 1965 175cc D7 BSA Bantam. Third prize is another hotel break (surely a new leather jacket or a new lid would be more appropriate, or are we missing something?)
Regardless, the Summer Raffle tickets are on sale now. The draw will take place on Saturday 31st October 2015 at the “Museum Live” open day. And the ticket price? Two quid to you, Squire.
Telephone: 01675 444123
— Del Monte
Bonhams is feeling suitably chuffed at the results of its 2015 Spring Sale held on 26th April at Stafford. The headline figure is a record turnover of £2.2 million (plus change), with 86 percent of lots sold. Nice.
The top selling bike was Lot 294 (immediately above and immediately below), specifically a 1939 Vincent HRD Series-A Rapide (see February 2015 Sump). The hammer came down on this machine at £275,900. This bike, we understand, was once rescued from the scrap heap and bought for just £10 and an Amal TT carburettor.
Features of the Series A Rapide include twin front brakes, a Burman four-speed gearbox and a whole lotta plumbing. The weight, however, is just 430lbs. Impressive. The top speed is a claimed 110mph, which surpassed that of rival George Brough's JAP-powered SS100. But which would you rather have?
On factory test, the prototype V-twin engine of this 1939 Vincent HRD is said to have delivered 45bhp at 5,500rpm on a relatively low 6.8:1 compression ratio.
Other top selling lots at Stafford 2015 include:
1937 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp £147,100 (sold for more than three times its top estimate)
1930 Brough Superior OHV 680 Black Alpine at £138,140
1926 Coventry Eagle 980cc Flying Eight at £106,780
1955 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow Series-D at £72,060
1933 Brough Superior 1,096cc 11-50hp project sold at £52,900 (more than four times its top estimate).
▲ Lot 293, 1930 Brough Superior Black Alpine (immediately above and immediately below). This model was announced by the Nottingham firm in November 1929 and was noted for its black painted fuel tank, as opposed to nickel plate. It was supplied in August 1930 by Laytons of Oxford to Mr D. R. Venables. Sprung frame. Matching numbers. Three owners. V5C.
▲ Check out the disc wheel trims fitted to this Black Alpine. The bike has had its ups and downs, but is said to be in good mechanical condition on a low mileage rebuilt engine. In its prime, this Brough was used as a commuting bike and a family hack.
▲ Lot 293, 1937 Brough Superior 11-50hp, sold for £147,100. This (unusual) 60-degree JAP sidevalve was launched in 1933. It was pitched between the SS80 touring model and the SS100 super-sports. The bike was, and probably still is, capable of 90mph in solo form. Production ended in 1939. The bike was in dry storage for a miserable 13 years. Shame.
▲ Lot 312, 1955 Vincent Series D Rapide. "Property of a deceased's estate". Depressing words, but what can you do except be grateful that someone looked after the bike and gave it a good home?
▲ Lot 312, one of 460 Series D's built. Features of this particular bike include an Alton 12-volt generator, a Grosset electric starter, electronic ignition and a Dave Hills centre stand (the original stand is included). This red, we think, could be the new Vincent black. But what do you say?
▲ Lot 310, 1926 980cc OHV Coventry Eagle Flying Eight. Apparently, the JAP engine fitted to this British vintage superbike is not the original. The motor is loosely assembled with a new crankshaft and will require rebuilding. Nevertheless, the hammer came down at £106,780. Lots of documentation available. V5C too. Very creditable alternative to your average Brough Superior.
Meanwhile, James May and Richard Hammond from the TV series Top Gear entered 12 personal bikes (between them) into the sale. All sold on the day realising a total of £77,625. Hammond's 2010 Norton Commando 961SE was the top selling lot of this collection. It fetched £15,180.
Also, a replica Easy Rider Harley Panhead (another "property of a deceased's estate") sold for £19,760 (see Sump April 2015). All pics courtesy of Bonhams.
— Big End
These are new, highly polished and designed to fit all Triumph T100 Bonnevilles (to date). The headers are manufactured right here in the UK. The material is 304 grade stainless steel. The price per pair is £249.00 including VAT.
The idea with this product is to obviate the blue tarnishing (that's always present with these bikes) and get shot of the ugly lambda sensor bosses. You can reprogram the ECU to switch off the sensors, and you can get rid of the catalytic converters too (as fitted to later models). The outside diameter of the pipes is 42mm, but they will fit pre-injection bikes designed with 38mm headers.
Norman Hyde also tells us that these header pipes will accept his HBS105 classic and HBS165 peashooter silencers. That's it. Buy or don't buy. Chances are that the quality, as with all Norman Hyde gear, is pretty good.
Telephone: 0333 8002300
— Girl Happy
The top selling motorcycle lot at the Cheffins Cambridge Sale (Saturday 25th April 2015*) is the above 1936 500cc BSA J12/Swallow 9D Deluxe touring outfit. The price was £21,800.
Affectionately known as Uncle Jim's J12, the combination has apparently been in "the same family since new" (Uncle Jim, nephew, son-in-law). It was registered in London as CXP 101, "fell into a state of neglect", and was restored some years ago. We hear that aside from an electronic regulator, the bike is standard.
Of the 21 lots on offer, only two bikes failed to sell (a 1938 Royal Enfield Model KX, and a 1951 Ariel 4G Mk1). See Sump News February 2015 for more on this auction.
*Note that we had originally listed the sale date as 16th April 2015, which was incorrect. Apologies for that.
— Del Monte
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.
Update: We've since received an email from Luis advising us that the above quote is indeed his words. And he added that his teeth are by no means perfect.
— 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. UPDATE: The bike sold for £3,000 (hammer price).
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. UPDATE: The bike sold for £10,500 (hammer price).
▲ 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