The Brighton Speed Trials is back for 2016. It will take place on Saturday 3rd September 2016, and as usual it will happen on Madeira Drive, Brighton, West Sussex. The first run will start at 11.30am after the practice sprints.
Once again, we're giving this event a little extra promotional support following the death of competitor Charlotte Tagg in 2012.
As always, the Brighton & Hove Motor Club are organising the racing via the Sprint Section of the VMCC. This is potentially a great day out and highly recommended. Make a weekend of it if you can.
Finally, if you want to participate, make sure you contact the organisers asap. There are rules and regulations that need to be sorted out in advance. Turning up on the day with a bike, a lid and a head full of hope won't do it.
— Queen of Sump
If you're a professional photographer, or perhaps "merely" a keen amateur, you might have heard of Robert White; or, at least, Robert White Photographic. The firm (now called simply Robert White) is based in Poole, Dorset. It was founded by White who indulged a lifelong passion for classic cars, classic motorcycles, classic aviation, classic cameras and classic wristwatches.
Robert White was born in 1953 and died in 2015. He left the bulk of his very large collection to charity; a collection of 500 lots that's expected to raise over £2 million when Bonhams offers it for auction on Monday 19th September 2016.
Among the motorcycles on offer are:
c.1929 Megola 640cc Touring Model, est: £120,000-£140,000
MV Agusta 500cc 3-cylinder Grand Prix recreation, est: £80,000-£100,000
MV Agusta 500cc 4-cylinder Grand Prix recreation, est: £70,000-£90,0000
1974 Ducati 750SS, est: £60,000-£70,000
1951 Vincent 998cc Series C Black Shadow, est: £50,000-£70,000
Motor cars in the collection include:
1930 Bentley 4½-Litre Le Mans-style Tourer, est: at £450,000-£550,000
1959 AC Ace-Bristol Roadster, est: £180,000-£220,000
1958 AC Ace Roadster, est: £120,000-£140,000
Pur Sang ‘Type 51’ Sports Two Seater, est: at £90,000-£110,000
White was a close friend of American TV host, Jay Leno, who has been quoted as saying: “They say that you should never be possessed by your possessions; but Robert took more pleasure from his possessions than any man I have ever met. The evening ritual of winding his George Daniels watch, for example, was an active delight to him as an opportunity to take pleasure in its mechanism.”
▲ George Daniels 35th Anniversary wristwatch. Daniels (1926 - 2011) was said to be the greatest horologist in the world during his lifetime. He was born in Sunderland and built watches entirely by hand (no pun intended). And if you own a Daniels watch, you've just gotta have a 1930 Bentley 4½-Litre Le Mans-style Tourer as well, haven't you?
White also owned a number of Brough Superior motorcycles which he sold to Leno and then donated the funds to Poole County Hospital which looked after him during his final years.
The sale will take place at Bonhams' HQ at 101 New Bond Street, London, W1S 1SR. Ben Walker is the man to talk to for motorcycle enquiries.
— Del Monte
▲ 1955 Adler MB250. This bike has been "family owned" for over 50 years, which is a sly way of saying "multiple owners". That aside, this sophisticated quarter-litre German two stroke is said to be complete and original with matching numbers. And it runs. Est: £2,500 - £3,000.
Thursday 28th July 2016. That's when H&H Auctions is returning to Donington Park with a new (well, old but new) selection of cars and motorcycles. At the time of writing (21.33 on Monday 27th June 2016) there are 36 entries including an Indian board track racer project, a fairly complete looking Indian Camelback, a clean looking 1979 Ducati 900SS (est: £20,000 - £25,000), a tired looking 1966 Velocette Thruxton, an Indian JAP racer needing lots of work, various mopeds, a sorted looking 1960 Triumph T100 Daytona (est: £6,000 - £6,500), and a clean looking 1982 Kawasaki GPZ1100 (est: £3,000 - £4,000).
We'd give you more details, but evidently H&H is still busy cataloguing the lots, and there's really not much else to say. But the location, in case you're not familiar with Donington Park, is around 10 miles south east of Derby, Derbyshire. Or you can program this postcode into your satnav: DE74 2RP.
▲ Indian board tracker. Details are scant. But we can tell you that this single-gear V-twin is a 61-cubic incher (1,000cc), and it needs more than an oily rag. No documents. Barn find. See the next 3 images below.
▲ 1960 Triumph T100 Daytona. This is a UK registered bike with a current V5C. It's been restored, but might require light commissioning. A 500cc Triumph twin is still a very special treat. But the £6,000 - £6,500 estimate is a little rich for us...
H&H is currently looking for more consignments, so if you're in the vicinity and want to unload some of the bikes (or cars) you haven't ridden in years and forgot you had, here's a timely opportunity. Make contact and check the current terms and conditions, etc.
— Queen of Sump
From 1st July 2016, motor vehicles manufactured before 1997 will be banned from entering Parisian city centre streets between 8am and 8pm on weekdays.
Note the qualifications: "city centre" and "weekdays".
There is also conflicting information on whether the word "manufactured" should be substituted with the word "registered". Some sources say one thing. And other sources say another. And it has to be said that many sources simply don't understand the difference. Either way, if you ride an "old" motorcycle or "old" car in the middle of France's premier rat trap (between eight and eight during the "working week"), you can expect a gendarme to jerk your lead and reach for your wallet. And if he or she does, it could cost you €35. However, enforcement won't start until October 2016.
That's what we're hearing.
The reason for the ban is simple. Pollution. Paris has got pretty dirty air, and the authorities have been struggling for years to scrub it until it shines. On 17th March 2014, there was a limited one-day ban on motor vehicles from entering the city (see Sump March 2014). And prior to that, in 1997, Paris got the heebie-jeebies about the smog and shut down much of the traffic to see what happened (which was nothing worth getting excited about, except that business was lost). But now it's all moved up (or down) a notch, and your pre-1997 heap will not be welcome after 1st July 2016 (subject to the aforementioned qualifications).
The move is likely to affect around 160,000 vehicles, and there are suggestions in the biking community that motorcycles should be exempt. Why? Because relatively few bikes/scooters are on the road, and in real terms they contribute very little pollution. But that argument is likely to fall upon deaf French ears, not least because (a) the Gallic capital has a pretty sophisticated and reliable public transport system that it wants to exploit to the max, and (b) there are numerous other vehicles that might claim similar preferential and/or tribal exemptions (old and low-powered Citroen 2CVs, Fiat 500s, Renault 4s and similar, many of which carry three passengers instead of one pillion, etc).
▲ Of course, some motorcyclists have no respect at all for Parisian rules and come and go as they please...
By 2020, the ban will ratchet up to include (or exclude) vehicles manufactured before 2011. And in 2017, the fine will rise to €78. Cars will need a window sticker declaring the age of the vehicle. But we don't yet know how bikes will be suitably marked.
Of course, there are other cities in Europe that will be happy to receive you, and this fact is acutely recognised by French businessmen and women who would very much appreciate your coin and feel that a little smog is a fair trade off.
And it's worth mentioning that a fine is just an inverted tax. So if you're prepared to pay the man, you can ride around with impunity and stink up the atmosphere as much as you want. That's how it works.
Meanwhile, if you object to the tax, you can write to the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo (image left) and voice your concerns. And while you're at it, you might ask for a reduced rate for advance bookings, or even seek a group discount.
But perhaps more worryingly is the fact that if 1997 is considered "old", what the hell does that make the majority of us Sumpsters who can still vividly remember the 80s, 70s and even 60s?
Paris is the least of our worries.
— Big End
Actually, we think this has got to be a belated April Fool wind-up. But we'll treat it as a genuine news story until we hear anything to convince us otherwise. The upshot is that a guy named Ed Elliott has (supposedly) started a petition aimed at Prime Minister David Cameron demanding the ban of those high-visibility vests/tabards/bibs that more and more UK motorcyclists (and quite a few horse riders and cyclists) are wearing these days. We're talking about the ones with "POLITE rider" (or similar) printed on the back, the intention being to make "POLITE" look like the word "POLICE" (as if you didn't figure that out).
We've seen a few such vests for ourselves, and they didn't affect us in any way except to make us raise an eyebrow. In fact, we saw one guy riding along the Thames Embankment with "FBI" printed on the back of a Hi-Viz, which might mean that he's totally off the beat, or maybe he was just taking the Mickey. But Ed Elliott (is that an anagram of something we haven't yet figured out?) thinks that these vests make bikers look uncool, so he wants them made illegal.
At the time of writing, he's got 335 supporters. Apparently, he needs 500. What happens after he hits the required number isn't clear. That's because this petition is being carried on the change.org website as opposed to the more usual gov.uk site.
That aside, from checking the online forums it seems that plenty of bikers really hate these vests, but it's hard to see why. They ain't very convincing, except perhaps from a long way off. And at that distance, we ain't worried about whoever might be wearing them.
So okay, the "POLITE" vests look uncool. But so what? Just get over it. It's still a reasonably free country. However, we suspect that many bikers (and drivers) hate these vests because they want the luxury of breaking the law with total impunity rather than worry about Fluorescent Fred up ahead, or Hi-Viz Vic coming up behind who, just for once, might really be the old bill.
Beyond that, it's just possible that Ed Elliott is a lot smarter than he sounds. It could be that he's got a nice little business on eBay flogging the fake police vests and has found a way to drum up a little free publicity. If that's the case, here you are, Ed. There's gotta be at least a couple of people perusing Sump Magazine who'd just love one of these for Christmas.
Or maybe not.
And here's another thought. What are we gonna do if the coppers get smart and start wearing these too?
Makes you think.
Check out the petition
— Sam 7
It's been over 50 years since Indian Motorcycle officially went racing with a full factory team in an AMA Pro Flat Track championship. But that's about to change with, we hear, this brand new four-valve liquid-cooled 750cc engine that's designed to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Harley-Davidson and whoever else is up for a fight.
It's a timely announcement that comes just a week or so after Harley-Davidson launched its XG750R (see Sump Motorcycle News, May 2016).
Steve Menneto, President of Motorcycles for Polaris Industries (Indian's parent company), has been quoted as saying: “We are very excited to return to the AMA Circuit. We have established the new Indian Chief and Scout series as the cornerstones of our production line up, and now is the time for us to return to racing in a big way. We know that fans of Indian motorcycles have been anticipating this announcement and can’t wait to see Indian racing back in action.”
A brand new rolling chassis for the new engine is underway, but there are no immediate plans to build a production version. Indian, understandably, has given no details yet of the new 750. The company is expected to begin field testing the twin at a US racing venue later this year. But come 2017, Menneto reckons it will be ready for a full season.
Is Harley-Davidson worried? It ought to be. Indian/Polaris is hungry for business and is happy to rekindle the old rivalry that existed between the two firms. Then again, Harley-Davidson knows a trick or two about wiping out the competition.
Exciting times are coming for AMA race fans.
— Big End
That would be Sadiq Khan, newly appointed left-wing London Mayor who took office in May 2016. A little over 1.3 million Londoners (56.9 percent of the vote) voted Khan into office after Tory Boy Boris Johnson stepped down as mayor (allegedly in preparation to oust David Cameron from office should the UK opt to exit the European Union in the upcoming referendum vote).
Zac Goldsmith, another Tory Boy, came a close second place at just over 990,000 votes (49.1 percent).
Sadiq Khan—a Pakistani Sunni Muslim and the first Muslim mayor of a major western capital city—made a manifesto promise (November 2015) to freeze London Transport train fares for four years if he was elected to the mayoral office. But he's since been urgently back-pedalling and has qualified that dubious promise with any number of excuses. The bottom line is that it ain't going to happen the way he said it would happen, if at all.
But apparently he's more interested at the moment at another bottom line, specifically that of the model on the poster that's currently plastered all over the London tube network. Apparently, these "body shaming" ads "demean people, particularly women, and make them feel bad about their bodies", and Khan intends to ban the posters.
Notwithstanding the fact that many people feel that tens of thousands of seriously obese British women ought to be ashamed of their bodies, the knee-jerk move begs the question of whether or not the London mayor's role is also the self-appointed arbiter of decency, morality and good taste.
Graeme Craig, Commercial Development Director for Transport for London (TfL) is directly answerable to the mayor's office. Craig (pictured on the left) has been quoted as saying that "Advertising on our [tube] network is unlike TV, online and print media. Our customers cannot simply switch off or turn a page if an advertisement offends or upsets them, and we have a duty to ensure the copy we carry reflects that unique environment."
Duty? That sounds dangerously sanctimonious.
Of course, some would say that passengers can simply turn away or stick their noses in a book. While others might suggest that all advertisements offend someone. So why not have a total ban?
As expected, two distinct political camps have formed and are now sharpening and loading their weapons. One group feels that women's self-image needs protection by the state, whilst the other side believes that Khan's move is "patronising censorship".
The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), meanwhile, has apparently already investigated the ads to see if they contravene any laws. The agency concluded that the posters were neither "irresponsible nor offensive".
▲ Sadiq Khan might have been better advised to take a more relaxed approach during his first year as a Muslim Mayor of London. But if this is the beginning of a fundamental shift in attitudes (and that's a big "if"), God only knows where it ends...
Well they've offended quite a lot of people actually, but is that in itself a reason to ban otherwise legitimate advertising? You decide. But keep in mind that if the chief complaint is simply that the ads make fat girls feel bad, the logic might apply to any number of products that have the same effect on other people. Such as cosmetic dentistry, for instance. Or hair product adverts. Or ads for new clothes or expensive cars. Or whatever.
According to the usual scuttlebutt, London-born Khan is making the banning move because he has two "proud feminist" teenage daughters and is pandering to their juvenile political demands. Beyond that, there will be the understandable wider concern that here is London's first Muslim mayor on a crusade to stamp out overtly "sexy" or controversial images of women, thereby giving licence to the more extreme Islamists as they mission-creep towards an Islamic rather than a Christian nation.
That said, Khan (who trained as a solicitor) voted in favour of same sex marriage, and in response had a fatwah (death threat) levied against him and duly received advice from the coppers on self protection, which probably mostly means keeping his mouth shut and his head down. But you can hardly expect the mayor of the greatest city on earth to do that.
However, it might help Khan if he stopped telling people which mosque he prays at (which is the Al-Muzzammil Mosque in Tooting, South London. You can find it at 8 Gatton Road, SW17 0EZ which is just up the street from the post office).
— Sam 7
If the pollsters are correct, around 50 percent of you Sumpsters reading this news item will be voting to stay in the EU on Thursday 23rd June 2016. That, of course, is assuming that (a) you're eligible to vote, and (b) you feel sufficiently motivated to trundle down to the polling station and make your mark in the required spot.
And if you can't be bothered to do that, that's perfectly understandable. Most of us are pretty jaded with modern politics, and there are very few people in Westminster (and none in Brussels) that we have much love and respect for. Don't get us wrong. Most, if not all the MPs, Lords, MEPs and Euro ministers are probably fairly decent enough people. But as politicians we're not impressed. And generally, we find it hard to support one side or the other. Or even the other.
But come Thursday 23rd June 2016 when we're asked "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?" we'll be scratching "LEAVE" in the little box. That's because we emphatically, definitely, absolutely want out. We want to be gone. We want to quit, depart and vamoose. We want a total, unequivocal, no-fault divorce (albeit an amicable one if possible). We want full marching papers. We want to surrender our visas. We want separation. We want to cut the cord. We want to become ex-members of the EU Club. And we wish all in Europe a hearty bon voyage, auf wiedersehen, arrividerci and adios, etc.
Politically speaking, the forthcoming vote is arguably the UK's biggest decision since WW2. And leaving the EU could be a mistake. But the chances are, we won't actually see much difference. Not for a while anyway. If we leave, there will be a winding down process. That could take years. There will be a lot to untangle, and the momentum generated by decades of political association isn't going to come to a screeching halt.
There's no single reason why we want out of Europe, just as there's no single reason why others want to stay. There are instead hundreds of reasons. Thousands even. And there are also reasons why we have misgivings about making the break. But on balance, we see an exit as a positive thing. A new beginning. A chance to strike out again (and all that Rule Britannia flag waving stuff).
▲ Come the 23rd June 2016, there could be a spare flagpole at Brussels. Or will a British exit set the dominoes falling and ultimately bring them all down? Who knows? But we're pinning our colours to an older mast that's served us well for hundreds of years. Sink or swim, we're prepared to put a little more water between us and the European continent. How about you?
There may be trouble coming, but we'll deal with that as we always do. There might be greater wealth coming, and we'll try and spend it wisely. The economy might shrink, so we'll eat less. Big businesses and the multinationals might suffer, and we couldn't care less. Small businesses and independents might find new opportunities, and we certainly hope so. There will probably be unforeseen consequences, but those consequences will be both bad and good. Nobody knows one way or the other.
Here at Sump we're just not convinced that the EU experiment has on balance been good for us, neither as a nation, nor us personally (but some folk have certainly raked it in). However, we're not convinced that hellfire and damnation is coming at the UK if we leave. Instead, we have faith that the country can adapt and thrive as an independent nation. We're not convinced that trade with the EU will vanish. Commerce will go on as before, and we're also looking forward to new trade deals with other non-EU nations.
We're not afraid of change. Neither should you be.
Ultimately, we want more local control of our economy, our laws, our rules & regulations, and our borders. We want our political representatives on the shortest leads possible. We want to be in Europe without being in the European political union.
We certainly didn't vote for what we got, and we don't want what the Eurocrats want us to have. And we don't have to accept it. In a week or so we'll have a golden opportunity to get the hell out and be done with it. We're big boys and girls. We can take it. And the EU will probably chug along without us. And if it doesn't, the mainland continent will also have to change and adjust.
It isn't that we want to be "Little Englanders". We just don't want to be "Big Europeans."
We've listened to all the hype about staying in. We've listened to all the counter-hype about getting out. We've done what we can to look objectively at the issues. And the bottom line is this; we just want something else.
We're voting "LEAVE".
Sump visitor question on our VOTE LEAVE story.
▲ 1972 Honda CL450K5. This bike is very typical of the machines that interest David Silver, and this one's for sale at £2,500. It's a US import and needs re-commissioning, but apparently it's all there. 20,936 miles.
David Silver and classic Honda motorcycle spares are practically synonymous in the UK. Silver caught the Honda bug when he was sixteen years old, and in the time honoured tradition he presently turned his hobby into a business. Today he's a cornerstone of the classic Honda motorcycle spares scene operating from his base in Leiston, Suffolk where he sell parts and secondhand bikes.
A few years ago, Silver visited a Honda dealer in Pennsylvania, USA. That Yankee dealership boasted a Honda museum totalling around 120 bikes, and the contents of that establishment were quickly acquired by Silver with a view to opening his own museum in the UK. He's since added a few bikes from his earlier collection, so the museum is expected to have around 150 machines on display (and if you're a thief, David Silver takes security seriously. Be warned).
Some of the bikes date back to the 1950s, and many are original, un-restored machines with ultra low mileage. The most recent display bikes are from the 1990s.
▲ 1970 Honda CB750KO. Here's another bike on offer from David Silver Spares. The price is £7,900. 31,676 miles. 3 months warranty.
After some delay, David Silver is now almost ready to open his classic Honda museum, and the launch date is set for 4th July 2016, Independence Day in the USA (which is probably just a co-incidence).
The David Silver Honda Museum is located at: 14 Masterlord Industrial Estate, Station Road, Leiston, Suffolk IP16 4JD. We don't have details of opening times or admission charges. But you don't need to be spoon fed everything, do you?
Meanwhile, if you've got any NOS Honda spares or complete Hondas in the shed or garage, or if you're looking to buy classic Honda parts or a classic Honda motorcycle, David Silver would be very pleased to hear from you.
That's the total number of riders killed at this year. Five. And naturally, that's five too many. Here are the names:
Ian Bell, aged 58. Bell was a sidecar driver and was killed in a crash at Ballaspur. His son Carl was the passenger and is reportedly uninjured.
Andrew Soar, aged 32. Soar died at Keppel Gate during the senior race.
Dwight Beare, 27. Beare was a sidecar driver and was killed on the first day of the races.
Paul Shoesmith, 50. Shoesmith was killed on a separate incident on the first day of the races.
Dean Martin, 58. Martin crashed in practice during the Pre-TT classic.
It's difficult to say anything about these deaths that isn't going to sound crass. But there's no doubt that there will be renewed calls from many quarters demanding the abandonment of the TT. Racing speeds on the island are certainly way higher today than ever, and the human frame hasn't evolved to address this fact, and isn't likely to any time soon.
But boys will do what boys will do, and every one of the riders killed was no doubt perfectly aware of the risk and, up to a point, probably enjoyed that risk. Then again, there are families and dependents to consider, plus the negative impact (no pun intended) that these deaths have on the wider world of motorcycling and the motorcycle trade. And if the motorcycle world shrinks beyond a certain point, the TT simply won't be viable.
It perhaps hasn't yet reached that point. But it appears that we've moved decisively from the "mere" possibility of deaths at the TT to the grim certainty.
Since 1911, when the first races took place on the current Snaefell Mountain Course, there have been over 250 competitors killed, plus various fatal accidents involving race officials, spectators and non-racing deaths. In 1970, the worst year so far for the TT, six people died. Since 2000, the only year when there were no fatalities at the TT was 2001.And unless and until far more comprehensive safety features are installed, which is probably a non-starter given that the track is an otherwise public road, more riders are going to find themselves hurtling into unforgiving street furniture, walls and sundry immovable fixtures.
So should the TT continue? Ultimately, everyone should have the right to take control of his or her own fate, be it via drink, drugs, mountain climbing, contact sports, scuba diving, surfing or riding superfast bikes in competition. We've got no issue with that. Our only real misgiving is the fact that families (especially kids) will suffer from the loss of a dad, which begs the question of whether motorcycle racing, at the TT at least, and responsible parenting is mutually incompatible.
But we'll save that one for the philosophers and social workers and will try and stayed focussed on the simple truism that living a meaningful life on planet Earth is not all about health and safety.
However, one way or the other, there's more TT tragedy coming at us.
— Del Monte
We ain't much good at counting beyond ten without taking off our shoes and socks and unzipping our flies, but it looks to us like Mecum Auctions fielded 311 motorcycles at its Chicago Sale on 10th and 11th June 2016. And that's a huge number of lots with, apparently, very high quality stock. Note: Mecum is claiming 350 bikes.
Some of the sales/results information is still pending, so it's not clear what the top selling motorcycles were. But here are a few of the bikes that (a) caught our attention, and (b) found homes.
The first machine we like is the above 1952 Maico Mobil (Lot S71). This wonderfully quirky machine had long anticipated the current interest in maxi-scooters such as Yamaha's T-Max, and we reckon the Maico did it a lot more stylishly. Maico was founded in West Germany in 1926. The company began by building lightweight utilitarian two strokes, but eventually moved into motocross and enduro bikes and, for a while (in the 1950s), added micro-cars to the firm's manufacturing inventory.
The company is perhaps best known for its 247cc air-cooled two-stroke Maicoletta scooter fitted with an electric starter, four gears, a cooling fan and 14-inch wheels. The top speed was a very creditable 70mph.
The Maicoletta was expensive to manufacture and buy, but it was a very high quality machine that quickly developed a near cult following.
The Maico Mobil (Lot S71) arrived in 1950 and remained in production until 1958. The two-stroke engine began as 150cc, 3-speeder. But that was soon enlarged to 175cc in order to handle the 250lbs of tubular steel frame and steel body. And what a body. With that huge screen, those capacious leg shields and the expansive footboards, the Mobil could handle all but the very worst of the weather. And because the bike was such a heavyweight and was fitted with telescopic forks, swinging arm suspension and 14-inch wheels, it handled more like a motorcycle than a scooter, which was the manufacturers intention. And for those long-legged touring jaunts with your significant other, the Maico Mobil had a large pillion saddle and was perfectly equipped with generous built-in luggage panniers. The Mobil also featured a glove box and carried a spare wheel.
We don't have the production numbers, but the bike/scooter wasn't a huge seller. This example was restored in Germany and was originally marketed as a "car on two wheels". So okay, there have been many other machines that came along before this one with the same boast. But that doesn't detract from the fact that this German example reloaded the concept, and did it so beautifully.
This bike, according to some, is "The Holy Grail of Scooters". We're racking our brains trying to think of another scoot that we'd rather have, and so far nothing's coming to mind. The estimate was $20,000 - $25,000. This Maico Mobil sold for $24,000.
Next up is the (immediately) above 1968 Norton P11A Ranger (Lot S79). This is what you get when you plug a 750cc Norton Atlas engine into a (modified) Matchless G85CS (Competition Scrambler) chrome-moly rolling frame. The demand for this "lighter, lower and faster" piece of "dynamite on wheels" (aka Project 11, hence P11) came from Southern California, USA where desert racing was booming. The first P11 was prototyped in 1966. The production version appeared in 1967. The last models were built in 1969.
The majority of parts required to build this factory hot rod came right off the shelf at the Associated Motor Cycles factory in Plumstead, London. The frame and forks were, however, strengthened. Bespoke items include the exhaust system, engine plates and various brackets. A Matchless cast aluminium primary cover replaced the standard (and leaky) pressed-steel item as fitted to the Atlas. There was no headlight or tail light on the P11. The ignition was via coil capacitor. Carburettors were Amal.
In 1968, the P11 became the P11A. New parts included four different petrol tank and oil tank styles in steel or aluminium. A road legal version called the Ranger was also produced with high and low-level pipes. And if you want to know more about these bikes, you need to talk to numerous AMC/Norton marque experts. But don't expect a consensus. As with the details of many classic bikes, confusion is the rule rather than the exception.
The P11A Ranger above is said to be correct in every detail from the small aluminium fuel tank to the mid-level pipes with shorty mufflers. The estimate was $13,000 - $15,000. But on the day, it fetched just $8,000.
▲ AMC, Norton's parent company, had been flirting with various hybrids badged under the Norton or Matchless brands. Cue the 750cc N-15CS Special and the 750cc P11A Scrambler. Similar bikes, but with very different personalities and appeal. Prices can vary widely, and there are more than a handful of homages rolling around to confuse the already confused buyer. Beware.
The short-lived reign of the 750cc P11/P11A/Ranger (such as it was) came to an end when a new breed of desert two-stroke racer appeared. Moreover, the day of the Norton Commando had arrived as a long-awaited solution to the Atlas engine's vibration issues. In January 2015, Mecum flogged a 1967 750cc N15CS for $14,000 (see the image immediately above). Look for Lot number S25.
▲ 1912 61-cubic-inch Flying Merkel. Original engine. Original Bosch magneto. Original Merkel carburettor. Hopes were high that this pre-WW1 board track racer would sell for $80,000 - $100,000. But in the event, the hammer came down at just $60,000, well short of its bottom estimate.
▲ 1943 BMW R75 Gespanne (Lot S64). 750cc. OHV. Twin camshafts. Driven sidecar wheel. Oval frame tubing. Hydraulic front fork. Four-speed gearbox (with high and low range settings). Leather panniers, machine gun mount, tonneau, shovel, jack, gas can, ammunition cans, gas mask can, tyre pump and extra fuses. You could start a small war with this wonderful motorcycle, but apparently not much of a bidding war. The estimate was $35,000 - $50,000, but it sold for just $30,000.
▲ 1934 Harley-Davidson R45. Lot S101. The Art Deco-styled 45-cubic inch (750cc) Model R sidevalve/flathead was built for just four years starting in 1932. During this Depression era, with all the US motorcycle manufacturers struggling if not folding, only 450 examples were made. This rare example is ex-Steve McQueen. The estimate was $95,000 - $120,000. But by the end of the sale, it hadn't sold.
Other sold lots include:
S65: 1939 BMW R71, £25,500
S75: 1929 Harley-Davidson Model D45 $29,500
S80: 1967 Triumph Bonneville TT, $8,000
S81: 1950 Vincent Comet, $25,500
S89: 1968 Triumph Bonneville T120R, $6,000
S92: 1916 Harley-Davidson Twin (sold, no details)
S107: 1967 Triumph Bonneville T120TT Special, $13,500
S117: 1957 BSA Gold Star, $10,000
Overall, it looks like a reasonably successful auction, but prices seem absurdly low in many instances and are significantly beneath estimations. However, without taking a very close look at the lots, it's hard to form any conclusions. Yet. The range of bikes was, typically for Mecum, very wide (American, British, German, Italian and Japanese).
There is still missing information about this auction. Mecum appears to have an odd way of doing things in that we're been advised on sales, but without the sale price information. Some bikes are still being negotiated post-sale. With others, it's not clear what's going on.
We'll try to update things as and when the other results come in, so keep an eye open here if this auction interests you. Or you can follow the link below and see for yourself what's going on. Meanwhile, see the Steve McQueen Indian Arrow sale details below.
— Big End
The estimate is $60,000 - $70,000, and the sale results are imminent. This 250cc, 4-speed 1949 Indian Arrow hails from the Larry Pedersen Collection and is currently (10th - 11th June 2016) being auctioned at Chicago, Illinois, USA by Mecum Auctions. It's Lot S93. And if you're unfamiliar with these bikes, the picture hasn't been flipped. The mirror-image design is how it left the factory. Timing gears on the left, and the primary drive on the right.
Larry Pedersen acquired the bike in 1984 at a sale of the late Steve McQueen's estate. Said to be correct in every detail, the Arrow had earlier been restored by McQueen's friend, Sammy Pierce. Barbara McQueen (McQueen's third and final wife) reckons that this is the same motorcycle that McQueen used to instruct her in the finer points of carburettor overhaul. We can't see that that revelation adds much to the mystique of the "King of Cool", or the provenance of this machine. But it's there if anyone wants it.
Indian was headed for trouble when this motorcycle was launched. Here's the simplified story: Back in the 1920s, the famed du Pont family had invested heavily in the company (and many other companies). During the Wall Street Crash, they lost a lot of money. But they were keen motorcyclists and saw Indian as a path back to profit. So in 1930 they grabbed the handlebars of the business and merged it with du Pont motors which made automobiles.
E Paul du Pont was the head of the family, and under his control Indian did pretty good with its established range of V-twins. The family was clearly serious about the firm and no doubt wanted to give Harley-Davidson a good kicking in the traditional way. But post WW2, E Paul du Pont was on the wane. His health was failing, and the motorcycle market was losing ground as automobiles became cheaper and cheaper. And more desirable. Meanwhile, imports of foreign bikes were increasing dramatically.
The company was soon unloaded. A combine headed by Ralph Rogers took over, and Rogers had his own ideas about where the future lay with regards to motorcycles. He'd seen that lightweight singles and parallel twins were, for that generation at least, the way ahead. The heavyweight touring machines were looking increasingly dated.
So Rogers commissioned a modular lightweight of his own, the first being the 220cc Indian Arrow (nominally a 250) featuring a single cylinder OHV engine designed by the Briggs Weaver Machinery Company (established in 1896). That engine went into a rigid frame, and that rigid frame was sprung at the business end by a "modern" telescopic fork. Ignition was by magneto. Charging was via a dynamo.
A 440cc twin-cylinder Indian Scout was also introduced, and both bikes were reasonably attractive and fairly radical (for Indian, that is). But the bikes, which shared many parts, suffered from a rushed development program, and there were issues with the primary chain, the wheel spokes and carburettor.
▲ We ain't engineers or mechanics, but it looks to us like those pushrods ain't exactly angled ideally. The frame number is: 1491156. The engine number is: AD11156.
▲ 1949 Indian Arrow gearbox. Looks like this bike hasn't been getting the loving maintenance it needs. No big deal in itself, but this motorcycle is carrying an estimate of $60,000 - $70,000. McQueen, we're guessing, would not be impressed with the condition.
Indian did eventually iron out the faults, but the reputation was damaged and a lot of momentum was lost. The Arrow, however, did well in competition, and it's perhaps largely for this reason that McQueen took an interest in acquiring one. But then, he had an eye for the rare and quirky stuff, so perhaps that accounts for it.
Mecum Auctions is calling this motorcycle "a nice piece of history". That's not exactly how we'd describe it. But it is interesting. Overall, the 220cc Indian Arrow and the twin-cylinder 440cc Indian Scout represented the right idea, but the bikes arrived a little ahead of their time and were simply not sufficiently finessed.
UPDATE: The Indian Arrow sold for (a more realistic) $33,000.
— The Third Man
... it's also a reminder from us that you only live once, that the clock is ticking, and that it's always later than you think.
If you're a regular Sumpster, and if you've been paying attention (and why would you not?) you might recall that we've recently returned from a gruelling, but wonderful, Route 66 road trip. In fact, we travelled all of Route 66 east to west, and then we travelled most of it west to east. In fact, we first travelled it over 20 years ago, and we can tell you that it's still a hoot and was easily one of the most fantastic trips of our miserable lives.
We're still working on a Route 66 feature that will give you some fresh insight into this fantastic experience. So look out for that at a computer screen somewhere near you.
The Americans call Route 66 "The Mother Road" or "The Will Rogers Memorial Highway" or "Main Street America". But we simply call it the most evocative and exciting road trip on the planet, bar none (and here in the UK, we would have had something similar, albeit considerably shorter) if the British government hadn't turned so much of the 400-mile Great North Road (aka the A1) into a motorway.
Anyway, the point is that most of you reading this have not yet ridden or driven Route 66, and you don't want to die until you've covered the 2,541 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. So we've produced this Route 66 T-shirt because (a) the income helps support Sump, and (b) it's the aforementioned reminder from us, and a reminder to yourself, that you'd better do it sooner rather than later.
▲ Don't panic, the T-shirt is black, not dark grey. But we toned it down to give it some detail. These tees are silk-screen right here in the UK, and you can have one as a wearable reminder. Go before you croak.
The US states printed on the tee are the states you'll be travelling through if you ever make this modern pilgrimage. And okay, if you blink you'll miss most of the brief Kansas section. But it's all do-able if you just get out there and do it.
The Route 66 T-shirts are 100 percent pre-shrunk cotton, silk-screen printed (for extra longevity), and they're in stock right now. The sizes are S, M, L, XL and XXL. The price is £14.99 plus postage and packing.
When you buy one of these T-shirts, make sure that you tell everyone who sees you wearing it to remind you to make that trip. Some day you'll be dead forever, but Route 66 made us feel more alive than we have in years. So maybe it will work for you too.
I want to buy the Route 66 T-shirt
— Big End
Any Monkees fans out there? Go on. Own up. You're on friendly territory now. We figure that there are actually plenty of you guys and girls who were either there at the beginning of the Monkees story, or who picked up the beat somewhere along the way.
At Sump, one or two of us certainly remember the late 1960s when The Monkees TV show burst onto British screens. And that was an exciting time for us; a time for gawping at passing cafe racers and choppers, discovering teenage girls, wowsing at the hippy stuff on sale in Carnaby Street, and generally struggling to develop some kind of viable identity. As far as we recall, it never rained once throughout the sixties. At least, not on our heads. [More on The Monkees new album...]
We hesitate to use the word "cute". In fact, we refuse. But that's how most people describe this 1950 Crosley Hot Shot Roadster (Lot 80) which has just been sold by Bonhams for $12,100 (£8,383) including premium at its Greenwich Concours d'Elegance Auction today, 5th June 2016. And that's Greenwich, Connecticut, USA and not Greenwich, London, England.
The Crosley Hot Shot was the brainchild of Powel Crosley (1886 - 1961), US inventor and industrialist and brother of Lewis Crosley (1888 - 1978). During the 1920s and 1930s, the Crosleys manufactured a huge range of consumer products from radios to refrigerators to general knick-knacks to the XERVAC device which was designed to rejuvenate dormant hair cells and so provide a cure for baldness. The Crosley name was also synonymous with broadcasting, aircraft manufacture, yacht manufacture and baseball (Powel Crosley purchased the Cincinnati Reds in 1934).
But the name Crosley is best remembered by many as a manufacturer of automobiles. As far back at 1907 Powel Crosley had attempted to build and market a budget car for the ordinary man. The project was not a success (largely because of a certain Mr Henry Ford and his 1908 Model T), but Powel Crosley took a second shot shortly before WW2, and this time he met with some success and built over 24,000 vehicles (of various types, many quirky) until production ended in 1952.
The above Hot Shot Roadster was introduced in 1949. The company was by then steadily losing momentum and sales, and the Hot Shot, arguably the first American sports car, was part of an attempt to halt the slide.
Whatever else the Crosleys were, they were an adventurous duo widely credited with introducing numerous "firsts" into the marketplace, such as the first mass-market single overhead camshaft engine, the first use of caliper disc brakes on all four wheels, and the first use of the term "Sports Utility".
We can see these claims starting a lot of argument, but we ain't going there. Instead, we'll tell you that the Hot Shot Roadster featured an upgraded version of Powel Crosley's COBRA engine, a 44-cubic inch (724cc) inline four developed for the US military. This lightweight powerplant was designed with a brazed copper waterjacket (hence CO-BRA; copper-brazed) and enjoyed a claimed 24.5hp output. But subsequently, this engine was produced with a conventional cast-iron block, and it's this power unit that was installed in the diminutive Hot Shot.
Powel Crosley (image above right) was clearly intent on keeping things ultra-simple, and so accoutrements such as doors and a roof, were considered redundant (or at least optional). The windscreen was flat glass. The wheels were steel. The gears numbered three. Carburetion was by Tillotson. The brakes were hydraulic all round. The wheelbase was 80-inches. And the weight was 1,155lb (524kg).
Fuel economy was said to be good for around 40mpg (imperial), and performance was sprightly. So much so that in 1950, a Floridian racing fan named Victor Sharpe Jr entered a Crosley Hot Shot Roadster in the inaugural Sam Collier Memorial Sebring Grand Prix of Endurance. It was driven by Fritz Koster and Ralph Deshon, and after seeing-off a rash of exotica including the second-place Ferrari, it won.
The little Crosley Hot Shot Roadster isn't exactly a microcar, but it's way down there with the likes of an Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite and an MG Midget. And we think it's a wonderful piece of near-forgotten Americana that, to our minds, should have fetched considerably more than eight grand (Sterling) plus change.
This example has been restored, and it was sold in very good general order. Even if this machine doesn't quite honk your horn, you might want to spend a little time reading up on Powel and Lewis Crosley, two of America's most interesting and daring entrepreneurs. Their story is a true page turner and makes it easier to see why the USA clings so tenaciously to the concept of the American Dream.
For the Crosleys at least, it really happened.
This is a little off the beaten track for most of you guys and girls, but we get lots of visits from Yankee riders, and one such Sumpster asked if we could plug this three-day event, the 13th Rockerbox Motofest, which we're happy to.
The date is June 10th - 12th 2016. The place is Road America (a road course located near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, USA). The address is N7390 State Hwy 67, Plymouth, WI 53073. The time is 8am to 8pm. The price is $15 (or $10 if you present yourself at the gate wearing any official Rockerbox event T-shirt). A group of 20 or more riders can also get in for $10 each. Contact the organisers for details.
▲ Racing at Road America. Photo credit: Les Tension Photography. Contact Les Tension for reprints of pictures.
You can expect some serious AHRMA racing, a stunt show, a classic bike show, a Sunset Cruise (3 laps of the track), live music, trade stalls, a swap shop, bike competitions, etc. This event, we understand, is the premier motorcycle show in Wisconsin, USA. The organisers are promising a "mash" of custom bikes, cafe racers, scooters, drag bikes, choppers, baggers, and so on. Camping is available, and you can also hook up a motorhome/RV. But there are booking deadlines and privileged spots, so don't waste any time checking availability.
You live only once. Get along there if you can and live it with thousands of like minded people.
— Big End
Two 2016 Isle of Man TT competitors have died in separate incidents. Sidecar driver Dwight Beare, aged 27, was killed on the first day of the races following an accident near Rhencullen. His passenger, Benjamin Binns, was also hurt and was airlifted to Nobles Hospital with a fractured ankle.
Meanwhile, rider Paul Shoesmith, aged 50, was killed on Sulby Straight during solo practice on Saturday. Following the incident, the session was abandoned.
— Del Monte
If the British folk rock movement was a murder scene, Dave Swarbrick's fingerprints would be all over it and he'd be hauled in as a prime suspect. A singer, songwriter, and a highly gifted and original musician, Swarbrick has died at the age of 75.
Dave Swarbrick was born in New Malden, South West London. From an early age he became interested in the violin and started his career with his own skiffle band before moving into the burgeoning folk rock scene of the late 1950s/early 1960s. He was soon playing fiddle for the Ian Campbell Folk Group and was quickly recognised by, and hired to work with the likes of folk luminaries such as Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and A. L. Lloyd.
Never one to stay still for long, by the mid-1960s Swarbrick began working on a Martin Carthy album which led to his involvement in a second Carthy album, this time as a partner. By now, Swarbrick had established himself as a top session musician, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually cross paths with the likes of Fairport Convention, first as a hired violinist, and then as a full member of the band.
The near-legendary Fairport Convention Leige and Leif album was released in 1969. Swarbrick was a motive force in this seminal work and by now had progressed from playing a traditional acoustic violin to an electric fiddle (one of the first British musicians to do so). He subsequently became a key member of Fairport and stayed with the group helping underpin this new wave of electric folk rock with his impeccable jigs, reels, and up-tempo arpeggios. Indeed, Fairport without Swarbrick was all but unthinkable.
His hearing, however, had been damaged by excessively loud music, and Fairport Convention, despite producing numerous critically acclaimed albums and EPs, was in trouble. There were management problems, and contractual issues, and much of the earlier excitement surrounding the scene had run its natural course and was dissipating. At Cropredy in Oxfordshire in 1979, Fairport played a farewell gig and brought an era to a regretful end.
The band, perhaps inevitably, reformed in 1985, but Swarbrick was involved with Whippersnapper, another folk rock outfit and did not join the new line up. Four albums with Whippersnapper followed, and then Swarbrick and Martin Carthy began working together once more and released two more albums.
In 1994, Swarbrick emigrated to Australia and was careful to take his fiddle with him. He worked on various folk projects, always pushing at the boundaries, yet managing to stay faithful to his roots. And eventually he returned to the UK.
But his general health was now poor. An inveterate smoker, Swarbrick suffered from chronic emphysema that led to a spell in a Coventry hospital. It was during this period (1999) that The Daily Telegraph newspaper announced that he had died. Swarbrick was much amused and pleased that his obituary was so flattering, but was less amused to find that he would not be performing in the foreseeable future. He was simply too ill.
In 2004, however, he received a double lung transplant, and following a period of recovery he began working again, once more with Martin Carthy. He soon also began working once more with a re-reformed Fairport Convention, and in 2014 he released a solo album, one of 10 solo works (including a compilation).
Dave "Swarb" Swarbrick married more than once (we don't have the details), and he fathered two daughters and a son. It's hard to overstate just how significant was his contribution to the English folk rock scene. It wasn't simply that he was there at the key moment. It was more that he helped create those key moments. He received numerous awards for his contribution to folk and electric folk music. But the greatest award is the fact that his work is likely to be listened to and enjoyed for generations to come.
If you haven't yet discovered Dave Swarbrick, it's not too late.
You know that the year is half gone when the Banbury Run comes around again. Naturally, we can't do much about the passing of time, except perhaps to encourage you to get out there and enjoy it. Hence this reminder that this year's Banbury Run will take place on Sunday 19th June 2016.
If you fancy taking a look, you'll need to get to The British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Warks CV35 0BJ. As ever, the run is open to all motorcycles and three-wheelers built before 31st December 1930. And as ever, the Vintage Motor Cycle Club (VMCC) is organising the event. But if you haven't already (officially) entered your vehicle, you'll have to wait until next year. However, the run is held on public roads, which means that you can ride the circuit if you feel like it. Just keep in mind that these wonderful old crocks need a little space to do what they've gotta do. Check Sump's event's page for more on this run.
— Queen of Sump
If you're a regular Sumpster, you might recall that last year we had a small fire aboard our good ship that put it out of commission for repairs. Well those repairs took much longer than we anticipated, and the insurance people (whose name we won't mention, and who won't be seeing any more of our coin) mucked us around big time and tried to fob us off with a derisory payment of just £2,300 where the true cost was nearer £7,000.
Well the b@$t@®d$ finally settled, and we're all aboard again and trying to get re-established and reconnected and so on. Currently we're on the Lee Navigation where we'll be for a few more weeks before pushing off up the Regents. But we expect some interruption to our service, not least with our internet connection. So bear with us if you will.
The boat still needs another coat of varnish, and we've got some interior work to finish. But beyond that, we're all shipshape and Bristol fashion and ready for some more navy lark. And you wouldn't know that we'd been under fire. We've got Sump stickers on the pointed and blunt ends (pardon us, at the bow and stern), so if you see us around, tap on the window (not after 10.00pm, please) and introduce yourself. Coffee's 50p. Carrot cake is £1.50. But if you say something like, "You're Kolly Kibber (or Lobby Lub), and I claim my free nosh," you can have it for nowt.
One of our Sumpsters is looking for information on this motorcycle, and more specifically on a certain Derek Jones. There's not much to go on, but here's what we know (or think we know).
1. The bike is a Wideline Norvin.
2. It was built around 1970.
3. The engine came from a kneeler outfit campaigned in the 1960s by a racer named Derek Jones.
4. The hp was reputed to be around 90 (to us that sounds way too high).
5. Derek Jones replaced the engine with a Weslake lump.
6. Jones was apparently sponsored by Daytona Motorcycles of Ruislip.
7. The gearbox on this bike has been cut off and replaced with a Manx 'box.
8. The front end is from a Norton Commando.
9. There are various John Tickle bits on the bike (clip-ons, rear-sets, alloy top yoke).
Any info, please send it to us and we'll forward it. Ta.
— Big End
We're you at this inaugural event? Owned and organised by Mortons Media, the show was held on the 21st and 22nd May 2016 and promised a weekend of drag racing (what else at Santa Pod?), stunt riding, a Show & Shine Competition from BSH (also owned by Mortons), a monster truck exhibition, mini monster trucks, a Run What Ya Brung event, food & drink, and music from AC/DC tribute band, Live/Wire.
Mortons is reporting "rave reviews from traders and visitors alike", but the press release isn't backed up by any direct comments, except from sponsor Principal Insurance which has been quoted as saying: "Not even the biblical rain that hit Santa Pod on Saturday could dampen enthusiasm, with the feedback from show-goers being really positive. It’s hard to single out one of so many highlights but the Run What Ya Brung was clearly a massive hit which attracted some awesome bikes."
So what's the word on the street? A couple of lines on an email would be much appreciated. But your comments won't be for publication (unless we hear anything compelling). We just want to get clued in.
Meanwhile, Mortons is said to be looking ahead to next year's event and is hoping to "build on the success", but no dates have been given.
Email Sump and spill the beans
— Del Monte
He was born Conrad Phillip Havord, but he was better known to a generation of 1950s TV viewers as William Tell, the Swiss folk hero famous for splitting an apple from his son's head. Phillips died in January this year (2016), but the news has only just reached us, and we wanted to mention his passing, albeit belatedly.
He was the son of Horace Havord, a journalist on the Sunday Express newspaper and a writer of detective novels. Horace Havord wrote under the pen name of Conrad Phillips, and this later became the stage name for his actor son (much to his son's later regret).
Conrad Phillips starred in 39 episodes of the British show William Tell made between 1958 and 1959. The series was filmed largely in the Snowdonia area of Wales. It was aired during a busy era of swashbuckling TV shows that included Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, Richard the Lion Heart, and Sir Francis Drake, all of which now look hopelessly dated but were once the action shows to watch, especially if you were male and aged between six and sixteen. The then familiar call to the screen was Rossini's William Tell Overture which served as the theme music.
The 25-minute black and white shows (running with a single commercial break) were originally filmed on location, but were later relegated to the studio which gave the episodes a claustrophobic feel not untypical of the age. To save costs, the producers were happy to (obviously) re-use segments and shots from earlier episodes, and there was evidently a very small budget for the writers and special effects people.
Phillips was a suitable candidate for the role. He had the right physique and the right looks (somewhere between Richard Greene, Richard Todd, Tyrone Power and Victor Mature). Also, he had learned archery skills whilst training at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts), and was therefore comfortable with the nuances of the crossbow, as made famous by William Tell.
▲ Funny how perspectives change. The legendary William Tell (Conrad Phillips) would today be considered both a terrorist and a child abuser. His son, Walter Tell (played by Richard Rogers) would be a suitable case for long term therapy. But in 1958 (and sometime around 1598), dad was a hero, and his son was a plucky little boy.
Phillips, an ex-navy man who served in WW2 (on landing craft), did most of his stunt work. It resulted in numerous injuries which on one occasion put him squarely and painfully into a wheelchair. In later in life, he endured a hip replacement, had both knee joints upgraded, and suffered from chronic back pain. Ultimately, these injuries put paid to a reasonably successful career in repertory theatre.
The William Tell TV series was relatively short-lived, but it travelled around the world and was watched in dozens of countries, including a few behind the Iron Curtain.
Phillips also enjoyed something of a movie and TV career appearing in the film The Battle of the River Plate (1956), and took "bit parts" in TV shows from Callan to Fawlty Towers to The Return of Sherlock Holmes to Emmerdale to Hannay.
In 1970, he also managed a hill farm is Scotland, and when he finally retired from acting in the 1990s, he repaired to Wiltshire where he wrote an autobiography (Aiming True) and ended his days aged a very "respectable" 90.
He married twice, fathered three children, and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
We don't know if this is actually a world record, but it's a hell of a lot of dosh to hand over for a dune buggy—or, if you prefer, beach buggy. The price was €56,000, which is currently around £42,500 or $62,000.
The dune buggy/beach buggy is undoubtedly a classic among classics and is arguably the greatest (and simplest) kit car of them all, although fans of the Caterham 7 and the numerous AC Cobra replicas might have something to say about that. But for our money (around five grand sterling maybe), the VW based beach buggy is the champion. But okay, they ain't much fun unless you have (a) a lot of sunshine, and (b) a beach with a lot of dunes to hop around on.
Elvis (image immediately above) drove a beach buggy in the film Live a Little, Love a Little (1968). And Steve McQueen, in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) took Faye Dunaway for a sandy blast in one of these bugs.
But this example is said to be special. It's a 1969 HAZ Buggy (HAZ for Hazard), and like all beach buggy derivatives, it owes its existence to Bruce Meyer's 1964 creation based upon a shortened VW Beetle chassis.
Autohaus G. Kühn built the high-quality HAZ Buggy in limited numbers from 1968 until the early 1990s. Its 1,500cc, OHV air-cooled, horizontally-opposed 4-speed engine is said to be good for 53bhp, which doesn't sound much, but it's not throwing a lot of weight around with that timeless fibreglass shell and those oversized (magnesium) wheels. We're advised that the vehicle is TÜV (German Technical Inspection Association) approved and has a Greek registration certificate.
The HAZ Buggy was sold by auction house, Sotheby's, on 14th May 2016 in Monaco. The Lot number was 286. We don't for a second doubt the provenance or the build quality, but £42,500 is making us reach for the oxygen bottle. Then again, what price taste?
At the same auction, a 1948 Tucker Y-1 "Torpedo" sold for €1,344,000 (£1,023,625 or $1,497,223). That eclipsed a Tucker which sold in April this year (2016) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for $850,000. Auctions America handled that.
This 166bhp, 335 cubic inch (5,489cc) OHV, horizontally-opposed, water-cooled, six-cylinder luxury saloon features a four-speed pre-selector transmission, front and rear independent suspension, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. The serial number is: 1049. That, we understand, makes it one of the last Tuckers to be officially built at the Chicago factory.
▲ 1948 Tucker engine. This flat-six lump is said to weigh just 320lbs and knocks out 372lbs-ft of torque. The cars, we're told, could hit 60mph in 10 seconds and would peg out at around 120mph. Preston Tucker made 98 engines, slightly more than half of which were fitted to his cars. The rest were sold as bankrupt stock when production began and ended in 1948. They turn up from time to time.
“Don’t let a Tucker pass you by” was the company advertising slogan back in 1948. But at this price, most of us have little option. For more on Tucker, the man and his automobiles, see Sump's March 2016 news story: 1948 Tucker "Torpedo" to auction.
Finally, this 1977 MV Agusta 750S America (frame number 2210320) fetched €105, 300 (£80,176 or $117,254). The 75bhp 750S in-line four was launched in 1975 and remained in production for five years until 1980. It was derived from the earlier 750s of the late 1960s, but was boosted to 790cc.
This example was sold with just 3,800 miles on the clock, which makes you wonder if it was really as much fun to ride as was claimed. Features include a 5-speed transmission, dual front discs (and disc rear), a wet multi-plate clutch and four Dell’Orto carburettors.
— The Third Man
East Anglian auction house Cheffins is looking for bikes and scooters for its Cambridge Vintage Sale on 16th July 2016. Among the early entries are a Vincent Black Shadow, a 1938 Velocette MSS, a Lambretta Li150, a BSA M21, a Sunbeam S8 Combination, a Triumph 6T & 5T, a BSA Shooting Star, and a Greeves twin. You can also expect to find some vintage cars and motorcycle/car spares.
If you fancy consigning something, contact Cheffins as soon as possible and check the terms and conditions. And note that the deadline for catalogues entries is 15th June 2016.
Telephone: 01223 213777
— Queen of Sump
Do you remember this guy? In fact, do you know either guy, come to that? In case you don't, the one on the left is Mr Ed, the talking horse in the 1960s US TV show. The other guy is actor Alan Young as Wilbur Post (Ed's owner) who has died at the grand old age of 96.
Young was an English actor born Angus Young. His birth town was North Shields in Northumberland, but his family moved to British Columbia, Canada (by way of Edinburgh, Scotland), when Young was a child.
As a teenager he had his own radio show on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), then later served in the Royal Canadian Navy and fought in WW2. The story goes that the navy preferred him to write morale-boosting comedy skits rather than man the guns. And that didn't suit Young who resigned and tried to join the Canadian Army—who rejected him due to his childhood asthma.
▲ Alan Young (right) and Rod Taylor in The Time Machine (1960). Young's English accent sounded cheesy in this US production, but he was in fact an expatriate Geordie Brit who found fortune in America.
In the 1940s and 1950s Young appeared in various US movies alongside stars such as Shirley Temple and Natalie Wood, and if you remember The Time Machine (1960) starring Rod Taylor, you might remember Young as the British army officer who appears as both father and son (David Filby/James Filby).
American TV viewers will be far more familiar with both Alan Young and Mr Ed. The series was quickly syndicated and aired across numerous Stateside networks. The production was first aired in 1961, and eventually hitched its wagon to the re-runs carousel alongside shows such as My Favourite Martian, My Three Sons, The Munsters, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Addams Family, The Beverley Hillbillies and that old favourite, I Love Lucy.
Mr Ed was also aired right here in the UK. If you're of a certain age (i.e above 60) you might have been a viewer. Generally, the running gag saw Wilbur Post (Alan Young) being embarrassed or humiliated or just confounded by the wit and mere existence of Mr Ed (who never explained how it was that he had learned to think and talk like a human, yet had no aspirations to do anything other than stand in a stable eating hay and offering pearls of wisdom.
The show was the high spot in Young's career. After the series ended in 1965, he became involved in a church, and he later returned to acting taking on small parts and providing TV and movie voice-overs. But he wasn't short of a few quid. Young had been canny enough to own a slice of Mr Ed, and he's reported to have made a fair amount of money in royalties.
He was also a regular attendee at comedy conventions and suchlike, sometimes in the company of a Mr Ed lookalike. But in 1973, the original Mr Ed died suddenly in California and was cremated.
Alan Young married twice and is survived by four children.
Today is Saturday 28th May 2016, which makes tomorrow Sunday 29th, and that's your last chance to visit the May 2016 Bikeshed Show at Tobacco Dock, London.
Organised by Anthony van Someren (aka "Dutch"), the show is promising 150 shed built bikes, plus motorcycle art, clothing, apparel, food and drink. You can also expect to find a working barbershop and three tattooists.
Some folk feel that this scene is becoming a little stale and burned out. The same old ideas repackaged and even regurgitated. However, we think there's life yet in this kind of homespun motorcycle craft and art. But don't take our word for it. Get along there yourself and see if it really is art, or just kitch. Or even a little of both.
Tickets are £15 advance (bit late for that if you haven't already got yours) or £18 on the gate—and that's a huge jump from 2013 when the entry was just a fiver. Opening hours are 10am to 8pm on Saturday, and 10am to 6pm Sunday.
— Big End
Like scooters? We do, especially when they're British. And that's not to say that we've got anything against the scooter output from other nations. It's just that the British never really seemed to have got it right. Instead, the Anglo-Saxon designers came up with ideas and creations that were almost so right, but somehow never quite had the classic style and pizzazz of Vespa or Lambretta.
Are we deriding homegrown scoots? Not at all. We just think the British carved some interesting new shapes, many of which went against the grain but came out looking ... well, interesting (think of the cars from Bristol, Allard or Jowett). And we love 'em. Check out the details of this new British scooter exhibit here if you're likeminded.
Mr Peter Allan, from Surrey, is the winner of the National Motorcycle Museum's latest Spring Prize Draw, a 1959 Triumph Bonneville T120, variously described as a "Tangerine Dream" Bonnie.
The hackneyed epithet aside, this is obviously a pretty cool prize, so all the more kudos to the NMM. The winning ticket was drawn by Steve Parrish & Steve Plater at the International Classic Motorcycle Show at Stafford on Sunday 24th April 2016.
Yes, this story is a little dated, but we were busy gallivanting around the USA on and off Route 66 when it happened (as you'll read at the top of this page), but we've managed to deal with it now.
Peter Allan's winning ticket number was: 1010699. The second prize went to J Higgins from North Yorks who won a 1966 Triumph Tiger Cub. The third prize (a luxury weekend break for two) went to Edward Kirkby of Derbyshire.
The details of the summer raffle are as follows:
1st: a 1990 588cc Norton F1 Rotary (value £22,000)
2nd: a 1951 500cc Norton ES2 (restored and with matching numbers)
3rd: a luxury “classic” weekend break for two people
Once again, the ticket prizes haven't been announced. But we think they're still two quid each. They'll be distributed soon in various ways, or you can follow the link below.
— Big End
Harley-Davidson has posted details of its new flat track competition platform. Based upon the current 750cc Revolution X Street 750, you can check out the details (such as they are) on Sump's mainstream motorcycle news page. [Sump May 2016 Motorcycle News]
— Queen of Sump
A petition aimed at newly appointed London Mayor, Sadiq Khan (and 4 others), has been launched. The petition's author is M Jones. The title is: "Take immediate action against the motorcycle theft epidemic in London".
So what's prompted this protest? Well, Home Office figures suggest that bike thefts in the capital increased by 44 percent between 2012 and 2014. According to Jones:
"This epidemic of theft seems to have no signs of abating as thieves become more brazen, acting with impunity and no fear of being caught to the extent that they are happy to capture their crimes on film."
And he adds:
"Even when the crime is caught on camera the Metropolitan Police have no interest in pursuing or investigating the case, often closing it due to "insufficient evidence". If a thief were to walk into a Post Office or bank and take £5,000; or were that value of goods were [sic] to be stolen from a business, action would no doubt be taken. That it is not in the case with motorcycle thefts is appalling."
And he continues...
"This can be combated by making motorcycle theft a priority for the Met Police and giving them the proper resources to investigate motorcycle crime and offenders."
Well good luck to M Jones with all that, because as much as we sympathise with his complaint (and as much as we loathe bike thieves and feel they should be paired up with suicide bombers), the hard fact is that the Metropolitan Police are simply not going to put motorcycles on any high priority policing list, not for more than a token press briefing, anyway.
The reality, as ever, is that the Met is up to its ears in terrorism crimes, political assassinations, everyday murders, rapes, historical sex crimes, serious assaults, major robberies, arson, burglaries and suchlike. Therefore it has enough to contend with without worrying about a few bikes. And it is just a few, relatively speaking.
Currently, the Met employs 31,100 police officers, 13,000 civilian staff, and
2,500 police community support officers. That total comes to 46,500, and the force operates with a budget of £3.5 billion.
These numbers compare reasonably well with, say, New York which employs 49,000 staff (including police officers and support personnel) and operates on a £3.2 billion budget ($4.8 billion).
In fact, it looks like New York gives you slightly better value for money, but there may be other factors involved here that give the NY rozzers a distinct budgetary advantage. On the other hand, the London coppers might simply be sloppier in how they spend the ratepayer's money.
And there's the rub. Once again we come back to how much we're willing to spend on policing (check Sump's bike burglarly story further down this page). As much as we love our wheels, we simply have to get used to the idea that to the wider world, motorcycles just ain't that important.
Tip 1: Fit a tracker, double lock your bike, stay insured, buy a baseball bat.
Tip 2: Be prepared to pay more income tax.
Tip 3: Get over it.
Sign the Bike Theft Petition
— Sam 7
Is there no stopping the Empire? The latest news is that Mortons Media, owners of almost all the UK classic bike rags and most of the major classic bike events has now gawn and bought the long-established Kempton Park Bike Show and Autojumble.
More than once we've caught a glimpse of the Mortons Men sniffing around the stalls and Kempton, and it's well known that the Empire was very interested in acquiring this London(ish) based event which has long been a second home to thousands of scraggy blokes like us ever on the hunt for that elusive bargain.
▲ Have cash, gotta dash. Actually, Eric Patterson held out for a very long time before flogging his Kempton Park venture. The show was his baby until the baby snatchers came a-callin' and finally made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Way to go, Eric.
Eric Patterson established the show around 30 years hence. Aided and abetted by wife, Cathy, Eric consolidated his grip on this sector of the classic bike community (in this area at least) and has built up more goodwill than Santa Claus.
But Vincent and Brough-Superior man Eric is approaching 70. He's as sprightly as a pogo stick and is still a very active motorcycle sprinter, not least on Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA. However, there comes a time in every man's life when he simply has to surrender to the overwhelming forces of ... well, hard cash, and we have little doubt that Mortons paid a hefty chunk of change to get its hands on Eric's piece of the action.
▲ Nick Mowbray (left) and Andy Kitchen (right). When the Mortonites come around, put up a brave (and expensive) fight before surrendering.
So how much did the Empire pay? Eric's not saying. He's an honourable bloke, and part of the deal is that he keeps his gob shut. Also, he's agreed not to launch any other event for the next five years. "Not that's I'd want to," he said when we spoke to him.
But Elvis isn't yet leaving the building. He'll be hanging around for the next year helping oversee Kempton and helping facilitate a smooth transition. That's also part of the deal.
Meanwhile, Darth Morton has promised to maintain the status quo and not do anything precipitous (never mind that the Empire is risking a lot of dosh and goodwill). Mortons' Nick Mowbray would normally be the bloke handling things at the Empire's end. But as we understand it (which is journo code for "we ain't sure about this"), Mortons' Andy Kitchen will be the bloke to chat to if you've got any enquiries.
Now is it just us, or are some of you guys suddenly getting the heebie-jeebies and wondering if Kempton is going to remain a fixed date on your calendar? Mortons, as ever, will do what empires do, which means acquiring more and more territory. And like all empires, it will sooner or later fall. But don't hold your breath.
Meanwhile, good luck to Eric (and Cathy). Seems to us that he did the right thing at the right time. Shame that another independent classic bike event has been swallowed up.
Update: Mortons has just sent us a press release advising that the next Kempton Park Autojumble will be held on Saturday 23rd July 2016. Also, Andy Kitchen has been confirmed as the main Morton man at this event.
Has Harlow Council in Essex brought an injunction to prevent the otherwise lawful gathering of motorcyclists? Well yes, actually. But apparently it's not as simple as that. The word on the street is that from Saturday 21st May to 31st March 2017, two or more riders enjoying an unauthorised ride on any piece of public land or strip of tarmac within the town or its environs between 10am and midnight is liable to prosecution. Or persecution, depending on how you look at it.
However, poor old Harlow Council has issued a statement claiming that although the strict wording of that injunction is correct, the underlying spirit is completely different. The idea, we're told, was to prevent a mass ride out on Saturday 21st May. The legal bombshell was aimed specifically at that event, and that event alone. And why? Because a similar unauthorised ride out last year led to hundreds of complaints from Harlow's ratepaying residents.
Of particular concern was the younger, hooligan element riding untaxed, uninsured and unregistered machines, and without a licence. The wider biking community was not the fundamental problem, it seems, but the members of this community were likely to give cover to the usual teenage yobbos.
So Harlow spoke to the rozzers, got an agreement with them, and then doorstopped a judge, and now unauthorised ride-outs are subject to a injunction which will last until next year.
Since the announcement of the injunction, and faced with complaints from hundreds if not thousands of UK bikers, Harlow Council has back-pedalled a few yards and reckons that we should all calm down (our words, not theirs). A statement said that "anyone riding bikes lawfully in Harlow on the road; anyone driving in a convoy or through the town; anyone learning to ride or teach others, or anyone taking part in a charity event" will not be troubled by the fuzz.
Also our words.
▲ Royal visit to Harlow in 1958. Once known as Harlow New Town, this post-WW2 construction was a wildly optimistic and straight-off-the-drawing-board experiment in social planning. Built adjacent to the Old Town, the UK government was keen to clear the London slums and put some money in the pockets of friendly developers. On paper, there's much to be said for Harlow. But in practice, it has its intractable problems including high unemployment, serious and petty crime and the occasional low flying injunction. You've been warned.
But the hooligan element (notably local kids on stolen scooters, etc) had better watch out because Uncle Bill is coming to getcha. We're still puzzling over why it needs an injunction to get the coppers to do what needs to be done. Hooligan bikers are a perennial problem, and there's no mention of more resources being given to the police. So presumably, where an ASBO, taser, a few dozen criminal laws and a good kicking behind a police van have failed, an injunction will do the trick.
Still, that's how it works when a local council runs out of cash and ideas; they look for a bigger hammer to crack whatever nuts are driving 'em crazy. We do have sympathy for Harlow residents, of course. But it looks like Harlow Council ought to have dealt with this one a little earlier in the year rather than play this particularly onerous trump card. Then again, we're seeing this thing only from a distance, so there might well be more to it than is immediately apparent (and we have heard that the run organisers were difficult to contact, which may or may not be true).
Either way, we're advised that Harlow bikers can still move around freely in groups and otherwise conduct business as usual. But if you engage in anything that looks like an unauthorised run (whatever that looks like), you risk having your collar felt.
— Big End
Here's another great metal sign to brighten up your garage or shed. Designed right here in the UK by your favourite motorcycle magazine, we opted for a 650cc Triumph TT image because we figured that pretty much everyone who loves Triumphs would agree that this is a pretty cool motorcycle (even though some folk will wonder what the hell is cool about a bike with no headlight, no tail light, no silencers and a potentially ankle-breaking kickback—but if you've ever ridden a TT, you wouldn't wonder for very long).
It vaguely crossed our minds to have this sign artificially aged with rust streaks and maybe one or two gouges and perhaps a bullet hole or something. In fact, we were even thinking of leaving the entire stock in a nearby ditch for a month or two and then flogging 'em with that time worn patina beloved of so many classic petrolheads.
But then we thought WHOAHH! That was then, and this is now. And you can do your own ageing by hanging one on a convenient wall and enjoying the view as the years slowly attack the steel and eat away at the ink.
These signs are printed the traditional way, which means direct to metal, ink to tin. They're good quality. But they're metal signs, remember, and not photos. So don't expect ultra high resolution prints on acid-free art paper and environment-hugging ink and all that fancy stuff. Just click on the image for a closer peek. You'll like what you see.
These signs ain't available elsewhere (or else). The size is 300mm x 400mm. They're drilled ready to hang. We'll ship 'em pretty much anywhere the world's postmen go. And the price is £14.99, plus P&P.
Ya know ya want one, so you'd better get one while it's going...
Take me to the Triumph: World's Coolest Motorcycles metal sign
Five times machine of the year, 1968 - 1972. That's some achievement. And even decades on, the Norton Commando is a fantastic bike to ride— but you have to have it sorted or it will make you cry. Fortunately, the Commando experts and aficionados have long since solved all of the inherent problems with the design, and these guys have introduced dozens of upgrades making the bikes better than ever.
Consequently, we wanted to add a Commando metal sign to our collection, and the above S-Type was arguably the obvious choice. Well, it was either that or the Roadster. But we opted for the S-Type simply because of those flashy high-level silencers that speak of the exuberance of the era when this bike hit the street.
Like the Triumph metal sign further above, this one is printed direct to metal (steel actually). And like the Triumph sign, we didn't try and artificially age it. The size is 300mm x 400mm. The design is all ours and owes nothing to anyone else. We've got them in stock ready to ship. And the price is £14.99 plus postage and packing.
If you like that aged look, hang it on the outside of the garage door for a while and/or run over it with the family hatchback. Alternately, wax it and hang it somewhere appropriate.
Want to take a closer look before buying? Okay, click on the image and it will explode in your face. Meanwhile, check out our Norton Commando Buyers Guide and see exactly what all the fuss is about with these bikes. But get yourself inoculated if cash is tight. These bikes are infectious.
Take me to the Norton Commando metal sign
— Big End
The best accounting numbers ever posted by Royal Enfield India. That's the official word from the Chennai-based manufacturer of the seemingly timeless 500cc Bullet and 500cc Continental. But Royal Enfield, owned by the Eicher Group, builds hundreds of thousands of smaller bikes for its domestic market, and it's largely these machines that are responsible for rising sales.
Nevertheless, Royal Enfield reckons that in the 12 months to March 2016, the firm's revenue jumped by 55.7% to £543.9million. This, we hear, is due to sales of 508,099 machines which is a 53.4% increase. The operating profit was 74.5%, or £141.58million. The company's net profit rose to £105.8miliion (66.1%).
Currently under the shrewd and watchful eye of chief executive and hands-on-handlebars Siddhartha Lal, Royal Enfield has been investing heavily in developing new machines and consolidating its position as a manufacturer of alternative/cool/classic motorcycles for the style-dude and dudess about town. The company is busy developing a new R&D facility in Leicestershire and is rumoured to be working on new and more radical models.
Last year, Siddhartha Lal was anticipating sales of at least 450,000 units. It seems that that number has been safely passed. The firm is now setting its sights on sales of 675,000 motorcycles for the 2016 - 2017 financial year.
— Queen of Sump
This is a new event backed by three organisations, specifically the British Motorcycle Federation (BMF), Aero Legends, and WW2 Headcorn Aerodrome. At the time of writing, it's not clear which group, if any, is driving this show. But at a practical level, it doesn't make much different.
It's called Merlins & Motorbikes which is a pretty clunky title, but if you're interested in both, or either, you've probably already get the general idea. Headcorn Aerodrome is in Kent. It's now a private field located 32 miles south east of London. During WW2 it was known as RAF Lashenden. Opened in 1943, Lashenden was built as an ALG (Advanced Landing Ground) which meant that it was intended to be used during the D-Day landings as a support airfield, specifically for the Yanks who flew P51 Mustangs under the auspices of the 354th Fighter Group.
The Mustang was built by North American to a British specification. The aircraft originally used an American Allison engine. But it was the fitment of the British Merlin that, so to speak, gave the Mustang wings. And altitude. Regardless, the Mustang was a superlative piece of Yankee engineering and for the first time gave allied bombers a fighter escort all the way to Berlin and back.
▲ When it comes to superlative WW2 aircraft, the North American P51 Mustang was up there with the Spitfire and Hurricane, albeit with the advantage of being a later generation design. It last saw action in the 1950 Korean War finally giving way to the stunning F-86 North American Sabre.
It's not clear if a Mustang will be present at this event (despite an image of the Mustang being pasted on the website). But you will be able to put your peepers on a brace of Merlin-powered Spitfires, one of which will be enjoying a 1,200 metre drag race with a motorcycle.
Sound daft? Of course it is. That's what most fun is all about. But if you're looking for something a little more down to earth, we're advised that there will be more than 100 trade stalls, an autojumble, live bands, an aerial display, various exhibitions, a best-in-show competition, food, drink and plenty of classic and modern bikes to gawp at.
The date is set for Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th June 2016. Tickets are £12 adult, £8 senior, £5 child (up to age 14). BMF members can expect a discount. Check the website for camping details and/or a web ticket discount. Good enough for you?
— Del Monte
For questioning, that is. But the coppers haven't (yet) actually marked him down as a suspect. He's just someone they'd "like to have a word with" regarding a bike shop burglary that happened in Braintree, Essex on the night of 14th-15th September 2015.
It seems that on that occasion 12 bikes were nicked. Among the haul were 9 x BMW S1000RRs, 1 x BMW HP4, 1 x BMW S1000R and 1 x KTM RC8. Also nabbed was a large selection of bike gear which included 44 tyres, various crash helmets, a pocketful of cash and suchlike. And during the crime, £50,000 worth of damage was said to have been caused to the family-run business.
Two blokes, aged 23 and 46 respectively, have been arrested and bailed until 5th July 2016. The guy in the image above has not been identified, so the police want some help in that regard. A couple of the bikes have since been recovered, and police are forensically testing the machines looking for larcenous DNA.
What immediately puzzled us was how the thieves managed to boost so many motorcycles without being apprehended. Shifting a bike from a shop and chucking it onto a van/truck (or two or three van/trucks) has to take around three minutes. Therefore, we're looking at maybe 36 minutes to move the lot. Then there's all the bike gear, the tyres, the lids, and the smashing of windows and doors and whatnot. And all this while a couple of alarms are ringing out bloody mayhem (one silent and connected to a 24/7 monitoring service).
But wait! It appears that the robbers broke in earlier that night without setting off the alarms, and they shifted all the bikes near to the doors. Then they returned in a couple of Ford Transit vans and completed the task while the bells were waking the neighbourhood (most of which is actually an industrial estate).
▲ BMW S1000RR. Is this the ultimate getaway machine? Nine got unlocked and loaded while the whole planet was looking the other way. In a high-tech world, it makes you wonder how it happens. But of course, that high-tech world is filled with low-tech people. Like us. So what can you do?
Nevertheless, there's (a) the theoretical threat of the cops themselves arriving both swiftly and mob-handed and feeling some collars, and (b) the threat of the owners showing up with baseball bats hoping to find out why two of three of their smart phones are telling them that there's something fishy going on down at the depot that they might like to know about.
Except that evidently didn't happen, so we can assume that whatever alarm system was installed, it was hopelessly inadequate. It certainly allowed some form of basic break-in without tipping anyone the wink. Or was all this, at least in part, an inside job (i.e a disgruntled ex-employee who knew the layout and knew how to silence the alarm)?
Well of course we don't know either. It's all idle speculation. But it makes you wonder about who was pulling the strings at Cannon Motorcycles to let this kind of theft happen on his or her watch (actually, it was Bill Cannon, aged 64). Then again, what the hell? This is only a quarter of a million quid's worth of motorcycle hardware.
Of course, it's easy to be wise after the marriage. But still...
Meanwhile, if you recognise the bloke above, you might want to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, or phone the rozzers and spill the beans. But don't count on anyone answering the phone, not for a few days at least. This is the modern world, and we get the policing and alarm systems we pay for, and deserve.