The new Jensen Interceptor? That's not quite how the current owners of the hallowed and classic Jensen name see it. But in an effort to catch some sales, they're not too proud to include a few Interceptor styling cues.
The clay buck (mock up) shown above also gives more than a passing nod to Aston Martin, Maserati and Iso, but this pile of artfully crafted mud is all Jensen and is expected to be on sale come the Spring of 2016.
So what's the underlying story?
Well, Jensen was founded in 1934 by brothers Richard and Alan Jensen. The duo operated out of Kelvin Way, West Bromwich in the West Midlands. The brothers had actually bought another firm, W J Smith & Sons, which built truck bodies. That company soon bore the Jensen monicker and a new star in the automotive galaxy was born.
Through the 1930s, Jensen built a range of respectable and stylish models. The firm also built special bodies for Austin, Morris, Singer and Standard. The company's heyday, however, was in the 1950s when the first steel-bodied Interceptor was created, followed by the (revolutionary) fibreglass-bodied Model 541 (later to morph into the C-V8).
▲ The stunning Jensen Interceptor of the mid-1960s. Italian styling. American (Chrysler) V8 muscle. British craftsmanship. 6,408 cars were built, of which numerous examples have since been factory-rebuilt. At a huge price.
In the 1960s, Jensen looked even further into the future by launching (a) the new Jensen Interceptor and (b) the four-wheel drive Jensen Interceptor FF (Ferguson Formula), the latter of which also featured the groundbreaking Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock braking system.
In the mid-1960s, anyone who was older than, say, eleven and living in the UK could hardly have failed to be awestruck by the radical Interceptor. With its huge wraparound "fastback" rear window and 6.2 litre V8 engine, the Interceptor vied with the Aston Martin for ultimate British-built GT street supremacy, and might have won that bout had James Bond not outgunned Jensen (literally) with the Aston Martin DB5.
However, Jensen went bust in 1976. A revival was attempted in 2001 in which the new firm designed and built the S-V8, a two-seat sports model priced at £40,000. The plan was to build at least 300 cars. But only 38 - 40 were ever completed (and only 20 at the new Liverpool factory) before the administrators checked the books, shook their heads and pulled the plug.
▲ P1800 Volvo. Another great classic of the 1960s. Jensen manufactured the first 6,000 of these (around 50,000 were built overall). Why Jensen? Because Volvo was stuck for space and wanted a sports car on its books. VW, using blatant commercial threats, almost scuppered the development of this project fearing an assault on its Karmann Ghia sales. Nevertheless, God stepped in and Volvo prevailed. Actor Roger Moore, in The Saint TV series of the 1960s, helped put these motors on the car map of the world.
By 2011, another re-launch was attempted, this time with an updated Interceptor. But this venture failed too. And that brings us to 2015 with another revitalisation plan on the cards featuring the 2016 Jensen GT.
So what's the specification? Well, details are sketchy. But expect a big engine, a Connolly leather interior, maybe diamond encrusted spark plugs, and lots of noise and poke and grunt, and maybe one or two other unique selling points (as if the Jensen name isn't unique enough).
▲ The 2011 Jensen Interceptor that never was. Nice try, but there was insufficient commercial momentum to get this off the drawing board.
After years of legal wrangling with various wounded parties laying claim to the Jensen name and rights, there's no special reason to suppose that a new dawn is breaking for this marque. It sounds a lot like wishful thinking underpinned by misplaced commercial optimism.
Then again, with the increased polarisation of wealth, the £350,000-per-car price tag coupled with the low-volume business model (80 cars planned) might make more sense than trying to pile 'em high and flog 'em (relatively) cheap.
Ultimately, it makes little difference to true/classic Jensen diehards. The original company is long gone. The bloodline is broken. And the grave has been robbed. Whatever follows is little more than another heritage badge nailed on an upmarket bonnet (hood).
Still, when that name is Jensen, it fair brings a tear to the eye. Know what we mean, Squire?
— Big End
On the face of it, it sounds like no big deal. Lincoln City Council has simply become the first local authority in the UK to ban legal highs in designated public areas. That should scoop up the usual blight of local ne'er-do-wells and stop them from terrorising shopping centres and pedestrian areas with their good time antics (laughing, joking, sitting around in groups, feeling good and smiling).
The legal highs in question are a new breed of recreational drugs that mimic the effects of everything from cannabis to LSD to cocaine to a stiff cup of coffee. The big difference, however, is that these concoctions are 100% lawful and fall outside of the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971).
So what are the names of these drugs?
Well, ‘Clockwork Orange’ is one of them. ‘Bliss’, ‘Mary Jane’, and 'Black Mamba' are others. It's unlawful to sell them as fit for human consumption, so they're being sold as plant feed or incense or on any number of pretexts. But buyers know exactly what to do with these products, and the government isn't happy about it.
Lincoln City Council has therefore resorted to a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). The idea is (supposedly) simply to prevent anti-social behaviour, but you can be sure that the always gung-ho police will overreact on demand and make sure that anyone looking dangerously, or even mildly, contented and possibly on the buzz is likely to face arrest, if not a good Tasering, followed by a night in the cells.
What's worrying about this measure is that the emphasis has steadily switched from simple anti-social behaviour (which is illegal), to stamping out a product or habit or pastime that is entirely within the law. More and more police forces around the UK have issued brazen statements declaring their intent to "clamp down" and make war with "offenders", never mind that it's simply not their business.
The job of the police is first and foremost to prevent crime, and then to detect it, address it and haul the perpetrators up before the beak. Legal substance "abuse", which is actually simply substance use falls outside of their mandate and remit. Indulgence in these craftily contrived compounds might be a serious social issue. But it's (so far) perfectly lawful behaviour.
Yes, it's true that 43 users of these products died in 2010 in the UK, partly due to the direct affects of the drugs, and partly due to the indirect affects. And of course you're a bloody mug if you stick any of these untested chemical mindbombs down your gullet. But aspirin and Paracetamol kill hundreds of times more people each year. Alcohol kills tens of thousands. And peanuts ain't everyone's friends. So let's keep this in perspective.
And people have been known to have a good time on motorcycles too and indulge in any number of other legal activities, and gawd 'elp us if and when the state gets an even tighter grip on our private vices.
In the western world we have the Rule of Law. That means (in theory) we can do anything we bloody-well like provided it isn't illegal. It's a worrying thing when the state, through the police, attempts to step outside of the bounds of its own rules and dictate how we behave. Remember, this isn't really about misbehaving in public. This is about simply having the means with which to misbehave. To the law makers, having a legal high in your pocket is the pharmaceutical equivalent of "going equipped".
Don't get us wrong; we haven't got any time for hooliganism either (and we wouldn't mind Tasering a few urban and suburban oiks given the chance). But riding around on motorcycles and gathering at tea huts and car parks and roadside cafes and laughing and joking and smoking is to many people much the same thing.
We're not suggesting that anyone should be alarmed about this. Far from it. But you might want to stay wise. Not all the puritans sailed away on the Mayflower.
— Sam 7
We couldn't let the day end without a mention of Leonard Nimoy who has died aged 83. He was most famous for the Mr Spock character he played in the seminal (and now very classic) 1960s TV sci-fi series, Star Trek. But there was a lot more to Leonard Nimoy than hamming it up as a pointy-eared, green-blooded alien.
He was a writer, a successful TV director, an even more successful movie director, a poet, and even a singer (of sorts). Before Star Trek, he appeared in other hit US TV shows such as Rawhide, Bonanza, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Dr Kildare and Wagon Train. Later, he took on the role of Paris (the man of many faces) in Mission Impossible.
After Star Trek, Nimoy starred in Broadway musicals playing notable (if unlikely) roles including King Arthur (Camelot, 1973), Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof, 1974) and Professor Henry Higgins (My Fair Lady, 1976). He published numerous poetic volumes, wrote an autobiography or two, recorded more spacey-hippyesque spoken-word albums than the world really needed, and found time to marry twice and raise a family.
But it will probably always be Star Trek for which he'll be best remembered. He starred in 79 episodes and started out hating the ears and the eyebrows. In fact, he ended his Star Trek career hating the aforementioned artificial appendages. But by then, he was one of the most famous faces on the planet and had risen from a minor supporting actor to a position in which he was more popular than Captain Kirk (William Shatner), ostensibly the star of the series. Consequently, the ears gave Nimoy plenty to be grateful for. And he was.
Spock was a Vulcan. Nimoy was the son of a Ukrainian Jew. Spock was cold, logical and calculating. Nimoy was warm, emotional and possibly even more calculating. Spock was teetotal. Nimoy was an alcoholic. Nimoy is now dead. But Spock is very much alive, and probably will be right up to the 23rd century. And beyond.
Today, the multifarious parodies of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek belie the fact that it was actually a terrific groundbreaking concept that dealt with all kinds of social, political, religious, ethical and emotional issues and dilemmas. And Star Trek without Leonard Nimoy/Spock and the implausible gravitas he gave the show is all but unthinkable.
Fittingly, Leonard Nimoy lived long and prospered. He's survived by his second wife, a son and daughter, and his millions of fans worldwide. Including us.
Cambridgeshire auction house Cheffins has taken some interesting bikes onto the books for its forthcoming 16th April 2015 sale. Top of the list is the above 1938 Royal Enfield Model KX. The estimate is £24,000 - £28,000.
The Model KX sidevalve was top of the Royal Enfield range in 1938. Eighteen motorcycles were fielded that year by the factory, but the 1140cc V-twin was arguably the most desirable. Features include interchangeable wheels, oil tank integral to the engine case (but still dry sump), an 80mph top speed, and pressed-steel fork blades. According to RE's brochure of that year, this was "The Last Word in Luxury Motorcycling". No doubt quite a few other manufacturers, both at home and abroad, would have had something to say about that. But we're all friends now, and this Enfield is nevertheless a class act and a rare and desirable beast. The registration number is: PSJ 697. The frame number is: 22536. The engine number is: 580 KX 387.
Next up, is this 1936 BSA J12 c/w Swallow 9D sidecar (image immediately above. The 500cc J12 was produced for just 3 years, and we think it's one of the prettiest looking V-twins ever built. Aside from an electronic regulator, the bike is being offered as totally original, albeit restored. There have been just three owners. The sidecar and bike came together also in 1936, by the way. It's a London registered machines and is being offered as “Uncle Jim’s J12”. The estimate is £18,000 - £20,000, which sounds too low for this prime piece of BSA beef. Pre-war bikes are, after all, still where it's at, especially if those bikes are V-twins. We're watching this one very closely.
If, however, you're looking for something pre-war and truly unique, the "Lyclone" (immediately above) just might prime your motor. "Lyclone" is presumably a skewed reference to a Cyclone. The bike was built by Roger Lye of Lyco Engineering (now retired) and was intended to emulate the board track racers of the early part of the last century.
The engine is a 1934 750cc JAP MTS/D V-twin which is housed in a 1947 Norton frame lengthened to accommodate the extra cylinder. The gearbox is a Norton Doll's Head unit. Forks are Webb. The combination fuel/oil tank is hand made. Various parts came from Raleigh and Royal Enfield.
The estimate for this machine, which is road-registered as a 1947 bike, is £10,000 - £14,000. As a board track racer, this doesn't "convince" us at all. But maybe you'll see it differently.
Meanwhile, Cheffins will also be offering a 1954 1000cc Ariel 4G Mk2 (image immediately above). This "Four Piper" Squariel is said to be good for around 100mph. At least, it was in its day. But it's a "gentleman's" bike and is destined for a more sedate life (probably in the back of a garage under a sheet). The Ariel has a "mellowed patina", and the previous "custodian" has stated that the bike was restored in the early 1990s.
The estimate is £10,000 - £12,000.
Lastly, there's a 1951 1,000cc Ariel 4G Mk1 up for grabs. This is a "Two Piper" that's also been restored and (like the one above) left to oxide in a collection. Originally, the bike was fitted with a sidecar and was despatched from Ariel's Selly Oak works to W Marsden & Sons Ltd of Headingly, Leeds. This dealer, in fact, took delivery of 12 similar machines with consecutive registration numbers. There's a thick wedge of documented history with this bike, and Cheffins reckons that an estimate of £9,000 - £11,000 is appropriate. Sounds reasonable to us. But Ariels Square Fours have fallen from fashion in recent years. We wouldn't be surprised if either bike remains unsold.
There are no lot numbers yet for any of these machines.
— Del Monte
There were only three motorcycles at this sale held by Silverstone Auctions on 22nd February 2015 at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Lot 303. A 1975 BMW R90S boasting a "genuine" 12,500 miles on the clock. The estimate was £11,000 - £12,000, but the bike went unsold.
Lot 613. A recently restored, low mileage 1980 Ducati 900 Hailwood Replica Series 1. The estimate was £14,000 - £16,000. On the day it made £16,875.
Lot 316. A 1965 Triumph Thruxton Bonneville (image above). The bike is number 9 out of the 52 Thruxtons manufactured that year. But note that Triumph made 8 prototypes in 1964. This example sold for £21,938 rising from an estimate of £16,000 - £18,000 and thereby proving that the appeal of the legendary is still active.
The Thruxton Bonnie was named after the Hampshire Circuit that was the home of the Thruxton 500 Endurance Race (the race is now held at Castle Combe, Wiltshire). Triumph Motorcycles, keen to cash-in on numerous privateer successes, set up its own race shop headed by Doug Hele, the noted development engineer who did so much for the Tridents.
▲The Thruxton under load at Llandow Road Races, Cardiff, Wales 1968.
The Thruxton engines were fitted with race pistons and camshafts, a tuned exhaust system (with stepped headers), a revised lubrication system, and reworked ignition timing. In various, more subtle ways, Hele the mechanical alchemist turned Meriden base metal into winners gold. The rolling chassis were also upgraded, and then the weight was shaved wherever possible. For homologation purposes, at least 50 bikes had to be built. And they were.
Thruxton competitors included Phil Read, Percy Tait, Bob McIntyre, Derek Minter, Tony Godfrey, Dave Degens, Rex Butcher and John Hartle.
Finally, the above 2000cc split-screen Type 2 (T1) Volkswagen Microbus was another lot that caught our eye. It didn't quite hit its £70,000 - £80,000 estimate. Nevertheless, the Vee-Dub still sold for a very respectable £67,500. When it comes to classic icons, there's not much around that will top this. Or is there?
— Big End
It was opened in 1907 and closed in 1939, but it's still one of the most famous and most evocative motor racing circuits in the world. And now it's been awarded a huge grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Brooklands was the world's first purpose-built motor racing track. The 30-degree banked oval circuit was once 2.75 miles long, or 3.25 miles if you include the central Finishing Straight. In its heyday, up to 287,000 spectators could be accommodated around that famous concrete ring.
Concrete? Yes, concrete; as hard and as unyielding as the racers themselves. That surface was never ideal for the thundering cars and bikes that routinely smashed world speed records. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of willing competitors happy to risk their reputations and necks on this elliptical Edwardian temple to speed—and one or two of whom came to grief after flipping over the 30 feet high banking (the actual numbers are around 17 including two mechanics and three spectators).
▲ Brooklands in its short-lived heyday detailing the central Finishing Straight. It's said that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana, USA was inspired by Brooklands.
Today, the concrete is urgently in need of repairs, hence the lottery grant. And okay, there's not actually an awful lot left of the original circuit. But there's more to Brooklands than that, heritage-wise. It was one of the first airfields in Great Britain, and from 1918 it was an aircraft manufacturing site. It was also a flight training school.
Vickers built Wellington and Warwick bombers at Brooklands. Hawker Hurricanes were also manufactured on the site. During WW2 the Luftwaffe damaged the track, and post war the property developers moved in and broke up much of the concrete for industrial and residential use leaving only a small section for the "petrolheads" to play with.
But if you visit and rest for a while on the margins of the track, you can still hear (or at least imagine) the likes of Count Louis Zborowski racing the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs around the circuit, or Henry Segrave battling to victory in the 1921 200 miler, or Bert Le Vack ("The Wizard of Brooklands") campaigning his 1000cc Indian to victory in the Brooklands 500, also in 1921.
▲ Britain's Great White Hope, the TSR-2 tactical bomber, was built at Brooklands. The project was cancelled by the Labour Government in 1965. Project costs had spiralled out of control, the military "brief" had been bent out of shape, and there were no doubt many other political and commercial intrigues going on. But the memory of this fabulous aircraft will live on at Brooklands (and at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, come to that).
DaimlerChrysler currently owns most of the central part of Brooklands. The firm hosts a conference centre, a test track and a Mercedes-Benz showroom. Other companies at the location include Tesco, BAE Systems, Mothercare, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis (how's that for an unlikely crowd?).
There's actually a lot more cash floating around Brooklands than the £4.7 million recently earmarked. There's up to £7 million actually, but not from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The new money will be used to restore the Finishing Straight, two Grade II listed Wellington hangars, and a new Flight Shed. And no doubt someone will be trousering a penny or two.
Never visited Brooklands? Well we recommend that you find an excuse as soon as possible and get down there before they restore the hell out of it. History's a fickle friend, and when he's gone, he's gone.
It sounds like a wind-up, so we checked. And yes, these are genuine full-sized plastic model kits in the classic Airfix, Tamiya or Revell tradition. And they're British.
Actually, the Airfix, Tamiya and Revell reference isn't really valid. Those kind of hobby kits are styrene based, hence the polystyrene glue used for assembly. But these kits are ABS based, which is a very different material and needs a different design and manufacturing approach.
Regardless, for £525 you can have one of these 1:1 scale plastic Harley-Davidson Duo Glide lookalikes delivered in a box (actually two boxes), presumably with a very large tube of glue and some waterslide decals. But you'll have to wait until April 2015 for the first production batch (but not 1st April 2015, we're advised).
The kit is the brainchild of designer (and Harley-Davidson rider) Peter Manning, 60, who set up shop in the West Country 15 years ago. He's been working in conjunction with West London-based Mark and Paul Hipgrave of MHP Industries, experts in vacuum forming.
For an extra £200 plus (depending on the level of finish), you can have the bike assembled by an expert. Or you can drill and cut and sand and glue and do it your own way, with or without the comprehensive instructions. Customising is optional.
With a little extra work, the bikes can be reinforced to use as display props or party pieces or sex toys or whatever. With care, you can also sit on them. But don't expect any moving parts.
Each kit will be numbered, and there are other classic bike kits in the pipeline. So how exactly did all this come about? We spoke to Peter Manning and asked that question.
"It was around 20 years ago," he said. "My son wanted me to make him a model motorcycle. My background is in product design, and so building the bike presented no major challenges. Except that as I was building it, my son saw what I was doing and said that he wanted a full sized model; one that he could actually sit on, as opposed to the smaller scale model I had in mind.
"So I built a large bike, and eventually it was finished and enjoyed and put away and forgotten. But more recently, during a house move, that model was unearthed. I looked at it afresh, saw that it was better than I remembered, and decided to take it one step further. And this is the result."
It took Manning two and a half months to develop the drawings. He works in the old tradition with a draughting board, a T-square, and sheets of draughting film. Having got his hands on a suitable Harley-Davidson Duo Glide, he began the laborious process of measuring every possible dimension before handing the full-sized drawings over to a CAD expert at MHP. That information eventually passed through the necessary computer software and was translated into the required coordinates.
Mark and Paul Hipgrave have put tens of thousands of pounds into the project, and we're advised that the finished model is pretty convincing from a distance, and not bad up close.
▲ It looks 3D, but much of it is 2D. Peter Manning built this model for his son over 20 years ago. Today, the idea has taken on a new dimension.
So who's going to buy this?
"The list of possible buyers is huge. It might be ordinary riders looking for something interesting and amusing for their home or garage. Or it might be a commercial venture looking for a display item or a shop sign. It might be an exhibition or an art installation. I really don't know how far it will travel."
Manning, however, already has orders from the USA even though the bike was launched only a few days ago.
Assembly, we understand, isn't particularly difficult; not for anyone with basic assembly skills. The parts are either screwed, bolted or glued together. Standard ABS glue or PVC glue will do. The ABS has a certain amount of resistance to UV damage. But for external use, or in window displays, it would be necessary to paint the bike.
So what does it weigh? Around 16 kilos.
It's a clever idea, and evidently one whose time has come. A few years back, it probably wouldn't have been possible to make this; not cost-effectively, anyway. But technology has moved on considerably.
We'd always thought it would be a long time before we saw Harley-Davidsons being called "plastic motorcycles". But evidently that time has arrived too. Good luck to Peter Manning. He could be onto a winner here.
— Big End
Andrew Longfield's Francis-Barnett venture has taken a step forward with the launch of two bikes, the Merlin (pictured here) and the Kestrel. Based on the HMC (Herald Motor Company) 125cc four-stroke single, the new bikes are pegged to retail at £3,495 for the Kestrel, and £4,495 for the Merlin. This compares to the current HMC Classic 125 model which sells for £1,650.
▲ Longfield's Francis-Barnett Merlin Chinese take-away concept displaying its trials aspirations. Or is that pretensions? The Kestrel stablemate is more road oriented and features a twin seat and a low-slung silencer.
We reported on this back in Sump July 2014. To summarise, Kennilworth-based Longfield bought the once illustrious Francis-Barnett name and rights five years ago (or possibly six now). "It was a moment of madness", he said. But he's pushed ahead with his project and is hoping to get the price down to more acceptable levels. He'll need ten or more sales to do that, and those sales could be a long time coming.
He's woefully under-capitalised, of course, and no doubt he knows it. We understand that the 11bhp bikes are being reworked by Mutt Motorcycles in Kidderminster in order to utilise as many British parts as possible and add value. But the frames are Chinese, and the engine is a Chinese re-hash of a Suzuki GN 125 unit. And neither are worthy of the Francis-Barnett pedigree.
The bikes don't actually look too bad, we have to say. But it's too bad about the price. That's the stumbling block here. The Francis-Barnett name is still revered among many older classic bikers. However, the new generation of riders is looking for cheap transport and won't give a hoot about the badge on the tank, assuming the Chinese hooter works.
But once again, we sincerely hope Andrew Longfield carves a profitable niche for himself with these motorcycles. However, it's hard to see any profit in this highly optimistic commercial venture, not unless a backer with deep pockets happens along and pours a whole lotta dosh into the firm.
Call Andrew on: 07956 801317
— Del Monte
He died last December (2014), but we've only recently heard about it, and as all of us here at Sump were friendly with Gerry, we wanted to give him a mention.
Gerry Wells created the most amazing television and radio museum we've ever seen. Located in Dulwich, South London, his vast collection was comprised of at least 1,300 items, which included radio sets, TV sets, ancient wire recording machines, valve test equipment, geriatric multimeters, transformer winding devices, aerials, gramophones, record decks, and sundry equipment salvaged from the golden age of wireless communication.
He also amassed a huge stock of valves (vacuum tubes), dials, gauges, switches, coils, mechanical rectifiers, speakers, books, charts, blueprints, guides and suchlike. He was a walking-talking encyclopaedia of everything radio and TV, but he never touched transistors.
"Don't understand them," he once quipped.
We came to know him when, on numerous occasions, he repaired valves radios for us (and sold us some electrical gear which ended up in a guitar amplifier). Operating from a large Edwardian house, Gerry Wells kept a purpose-built workshop at the end of his garden. He rarely needed to even scratch his head over a malfunctioning circuit. Instead, he would deftly open the back of the radio, take a quick look inside, nod, grab a soldering iron or a pair of snips and immediately begin rebuilding, repairing or replacing components. Average repair time? About five minutes (or ten if he had to go and answer the phone).
▲ Wall to wall radios, televisions, and broadcasting equipment. Some of these sets are worth almost nothing. Others are worth thousands. But it was never about money. It was all for the love of the circuits, and for the window it gave to the past.
The house was redolent of dust and old wood and Bakelite and general decay. It was musty, but not unpleasant. Just atmospheric. He once gave us a tour and led us expertly from room to room, floor to floor, outbuilding to outbuilding, all of it crammed with equipment, much of which was impossible to fathom.
This item came from the BBC studios in Lime Grove. This is part of the main transmitter mast at Crystal Palace. This is a rare 405-line television produced by EKCO or Philips or Marconiphone. This radiogram is a Cossor and features a magic eye tuner. This is a very early self-assembly crystal set; see the cat's whisker?
It was all bewildering, and intoxicating. There was a story in every brand name. And there were dozens, if not hundreds of long-faded manufacturers and products we'd never heard of.
▲ Philco 444 radio, aka "The People's Set". In 1936, this famous model sold for a little over £6. Gerry Wells had a few of these on display, but the value was always in the resistors, the capacitors, the transformers and the speakers. Interestingly, he had little regard for the subtleties of tone. An appliance either worked, or it didn't. And if it didn't, he fixed it.
Gerry Wells was a thief. In his wartime youth, that is. He had a troubled childhood and often broke into local bomb-damaged houses and stole radios and similar items to underpin his burgeoning passion in all things electrical. He was caught, convicted and sent to an approved school (reform school) in Lancashire. He wrote a comprehensive account of his life in his autobiography (available at the museum).
Soon, his interest coalesced into a reasonably viable commercial plan, and within a few years he had left the approved school and set himself up in business back in South London. He took advantage of the post-war interest in television, and he manufactured his own receiving sets. It was lucrative work too because the technology was fragile and needed constant maintenance; sometimes radio engineer-inflicted.
Despite his trading hopes, business was not his forte, and by the 1970s it all came to an end. Prompted by friends and driven by his own obsession, he began the London Radio Museum and was soon acquiring items left, right and centre; most of which was broken and useless, until Gerry took the equipment into his workshop den and nursed it back to good health.
In recent years, the museum has become The British Wireless and Television Museum. Its patron is BBC broadcaster David Dimbleby, and the museum is open to visitors by appointment only.
▲ Gerry Wells' valve (vacuum tube) cellar store. None of your Chinese or Russian rubbish here. Just thousands of valves from the golden age. Many were rare and expensive. But Gerry would occasionally sell you items, if he liked you.
Over the past few decades, Gerry's own health had been steadily and irrevocably deteriorating. The last time we saw him was a few years back when he was seated at his kitchen table, breathing with difficulty and grimly predicting an imminent demise. But he soldiered on, and even soldered on, occasionally spending time in hospital, and always on heavy on medication.
Nevertheless, he was invariably agreeable and helpful, made a decent cup of tea, was generous with the biscuits, shared his life with a very independent and suspicious cat, and enjoyed listening to trad jazz at a local pub. He never exactly charged for radio repairs, but he wasn't too proud to accept a donation to the museum.
Fifteen quid would do nicely.
When it comes to classic characters, they absolutely come no more classic than the late Gerry Wells who has left a legacy that will survive for generations, if not forever. He is survived by his daughter.
$25,000. A free 2015 Street Glide. Two months expense paid tour of Europe. And your own private film crew. That's what Milwaukee is offering to whoever is picked for this "dream job".
It's part of Harley's "Discover More" initiative, which sounds suspiciously like a "Find a Way to Get More Editorial Column Inches and Boost Sales" initiative. But good luck to 'em because promotion is still the name of the game.
The job starts this Summer (2015). The successful candidate will be required to plan his or her own route through 20 European countries. Harley-Davidson will then bankroll a film crew who will tag along and capture it all on digital celluloid.
To get a shot at this job, you'll have to contact H-D via:
...and explain why you're the right person for the job (and if you're smart, witty, personable, good looking, photogenic and female with huge breasts), we reckon the odds are in your favour)
The closing date for applications is Friday 20th March 2015, and the name of the smart, witty, personable, photogenic female with huge breasts will be announced in April. You must have a full licence and an European passport. And remember, you get to keep the bike.
Here at Sump, we'd like to apply for this one, but why the hell should we have to work when there are still British Dole Offices with open doors and cash in the tills?
As for your good self, just do what ya gotta do.
— Girl Happy
We've been perusing the web again and peering into our usual haunts for interesting news, comment and observation when we stumbled once more onto Brake's website. In case you're not familiar with this outfit, Brake is a road safety charity founded in 1995 by transport journo Mary Williams OBE. The organisation has offices in the UK and New Zealand.
At any given time, various campaigns and resources are on the boil including 2young2die (aimed at the 15 - 25 year old demographic); Brake Professional (which organises "webinars" for transport and road safety heads and leaders); and an initiative aimed at increasing the number of traffic cops loitering with discontent on British highways.
According to Brake, in March 2010 there were 5,635 traffic officers checking tax discs, and kicking tyres and generally humiliating all and sundry at the roadside. But by March 2014 that number dropped to 4,356. And that's a reduction of 23 percent (which is good or bad depending upon which side of the law you generally find yourself).
Either way, Brake has made a very important point on its website. That point is something we all know, but it bears repeating. Put simply, we should stop calling road accidents "accidents". Brake's view is that the word "accident" sends entirely the wrong message and undermines the problem. Unless a tree falls on someone, or unless lightning strikes, pretty much all so-called accidents are actually "preventable events".
That shift in thinking is important because "accidents" (of all types) are all too often viewed as simply unavoidable happenstance, which is manifestly nonsense. Road "accidents" happens primarily because one or more road user, or pedestrian, is (at best) doing something unwise, or (at worst) behaving like a bloody idiot.
Therefore, the next time you hear the phrase "road accident", you'll know exactly how to address it. So maybe you could help spread the preventable event message and keep a few more unfortunate souls alive.
What goes around comes around, etc.
— Big End
We first reported on the bike immediately below last February (2014). It's a 1959/1960 499cc Model 30 Manx Norton. Back then, it was posted on eBay with an asking price of £39,998. Or, if you prefer, forty grand. Twelve months into the future, meaning today, the motorcycle is still on eBay and still looking for another home, and the asking price is still ... £39,998.
Now we're no experts, but it's sounding suspiciously like this bike is overpriced. By how much, we've no idea. But the persistence of this advert at that price appears to underline a phenomenon that, in recent years, most of us have become well aware of, and that's what we at Sump have dubbed the Improbable eBay Chancer Syndrome.
It means that ultimately, if you put an item on eBay and leave it there for long enough, whatever the price, it will sell. You might have to wait a thousand years or so. You might die in the interim. But as with the Infinite Monkey Theorem (check Wikipedia for details), you're gonna get the result you want if you simply outwait the probabilities stacked against you.
In theory, that is.
It's the same thing with the Norton Commando Fastback below. We first spotted this one around a year ago. Maybe longer. Berrisford Motors in Norwich, Norfolk are the sellers. The bike is said to be a very early 1968 example, totally rebuilt with matching numbers, and the price is £12,995.
▲ The first-of-type Commando is prime investment stock. Nevertheless, thirteen grand is pushing it a little. But don't take our word for it. Check the market.
Meanwhile, we've been monitoring dozens of other bikes and other items on eBay and elsewhere that absolutely refuse to budge and sit there month after month, and even year after year, obstinately clinging to a notional price (as opposed to a market-driven value) and evidently still anticipating a buyer.
What's happening is part of a wider problem facing the UK, and much of the western world, which all boils down to the velocity of money. The velocity of money, in elementary (and clumsy) terms, refers to how far a given unit of money travels around the economy in a given year.
For instance, John runs a motorcycle shop and has £100 in the till. He spends that £100 in the grocery store across the street and, in doing so, fills his cupboard. Karen who owns the grocery store uses the money to re-stock and spends that £100 in the cash & carry up the road, and Dave in the cash & carry then uses that £100 to buy a crash helmet from John's motorcycle shop.
Now John has the £100 again back in his till. He eats for a week. Karen refills her shelves. Dave goes out on his bike wearing his latest lid. And everyone's happy.
The velocity of that £100 in this micro-economy is therefore said to be "three", meaning effectively that it's been three times around the economy. No one printed any more money. No one devalued anything. The money in circuit simply had momentum, or velocity, and has moved around the tills and pockets and wallets and kept three people solvent.
That's the simple economic model for the UK, and elsewhere.
But if John decided to go hungry that week and didn't spend the money at Karen's store, and if Karen therefore couldn't afford to nip down the cash & carry, that might mean Dave couldn't buy the crash helmet from John. Now the velocity of money is "one", meaning that the money circulated just once (based upon a single economic year, remember).
Conclusion? Well, if you want to increase the velocity of money, you have to spend it, or invest it, or otherwise keep it moving through the economy. Trouble is, when times are tough, people aren't sure where the next "dollar" is coming from, so they either save money or ask unrealistically high prices for the goods they have to sell in order to maximise their assets thereby slowing, or even stopping, the flow.
And this is exactly what's happening in the classic bike market, and in the wider markets too. Despite the fact that wages have fallen way behind since the millennium opened, and despite the fact that costs have risen significantly over the past five or six years, and despite the fact that property prices are outrageously high, and despite zero hours contracts and other commercial shenanigans designed to force labour costs down, we're still seeing people advertise Ford Sierras (albeit Cosworths) for £30,000, or Model 30 Manx Nortons for £40,000, or any number of similarly overpriced items on eBay and elsewhere.
▲ George Gideon Oliver Osborne, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP for Tatton (not necessarily in that order). Tory-Boy number two (after David Cameron) has still got VAT pegged at 20 percent whilst preaching the spend, spend, spend message. Go figure. His personal fortune is estimated at around £4million.
This is why the Chancellor of the Exchequer is encouraging us all to go out and empty our pockets. He (rightly) wants to increase the velocity of money (and in doing so bring home some tax revenues). He wants to shift the stagnant economic waters and get them flowing again.
If it happens too quickly, however, the economy will overheat and interest rates will have to rise to help cool it. So the Bank of England and the Chancellor are playing a cautious game and using crude economic devices to control spending, saving, taxation, etc—and all whilst the controlling Tories are trying to woo the electorate in the run up to the next general election currently scheduled for 7th May 2015.
When we were young, many (if not most) of us hardly had more than a few quid in our pockets at any one time. But that didn't matter because the velocity of money was high. It was easy come, easy go. We all knew that something reasonably profitable would come along. But times have changed, and money is (for most of us) now hard won, and it's harder and harder to let go of.
▲ David Clueless Cameron (Tory), Dead Ed Milliband (Labour) and Cozy Nick Clegg (LibDem). They're all looking for your vote come May 2015. But who can you really trust with the economy? Hint: The answer is "None of the above".
The bottom line is that we can expect a long, slow climb out of the economic depression we're in. Hoarding items, and asking artificially high prices, and saving money, and refusing to spend probably isn't as prudent as some would have you believe.
But who's gonna move first?
Meanwhile, Tom Armstrong and Berrisford Motors might be better advised to re-adjust their prices and get those bikes sold and re-invest the money in something else, thereby helping increase the velocity of their cash. At the moment, after all, the bikes might well have notional (i.e. imagined) values, but the money's not moving. It's static. It's dead.
And there's a lesson for the rest of us. Even if it means taking a loss, moving the money on and re-investing is generally the way to go. That's how poor men get rich, and that's how rich men get richer. All you classic traders out there might want to factor this into your annual business plan. And all you private sellers might want to consider this advice too.
If it doesn't move, it ain't money. It's merely wishful thinking.
— Sam 7
▲ 1968 BSA A65 Firebird. Estimate: £5,000 - £6,000. These unit-construction 4-speed 650cc twins are always in demand, and the estimate looks about right. Probably the worst you can do is buy it and enjoy it.
ACA is Anglia Car Auctions. The firm is a small player in the world of classic motorcycle sales, but it's big news in the wider automotive sector. Having just celebrated (quote) "the UK's biggest classic car sale on Sat 31st January 2015 [where] 84% of the 251 lots on offer sold for £1.77m inc premium", the firm's mood is now very buoyant.
▲ £28,350 for a 1963 Scootacar Mk1. Big money for very little wheels. Scootacars hailed from Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire. Powered by Villiers engines, Scootacars were built in very limited numbers between 1957 and 1964.
Microcars, we understand, did particularly well at that sale with two rare Scootacars selling for (respectively) £22,050 and £28,350. Meanwhile, a 1955 Bond MkC Tourer sold for £4,620. The top lot, however, was a 1991 Ferrari Testarossa which changed hands for £63,000.
Come March 2015, ACA is laying on a classic motorcycle auction, and so far the firm is fielding just twelve lots which include:
1968 BSA A65 Firebird. Estimate: £5,000 - £6,000
1930 Sunbeam Model 9. Estimate: £11,500 - £12,500
1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. Estimate: £10,000 - £12,000
1952 Triumph TRW. Estimate: £3,800 - £4,400
1964 Triumph Cheney. Estimate: £3,000 - £4,000
1936 Velocette MOV. Estimate: £5,500 - £6,500
Doesn't look like this is going to set the world alight. But there are often some good deals at the smaller regional auctions. If you want to enter a motorcycle or a related item into this sale, call Guy on: 01553 771881, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
▲ This 1930 Sunbeam Model 9 is expected to sell for £11,500 - £12,500, which we think is a little high for this 493cc OHV single. But it's a classy little bike, and it's pre-war, and Sunbeam built 'em well. So we'll see.
Meanwhile, here are the full auction details: Anglia Car Auctions. Saturday 7th March 2015. 12 noon. The Cattlemarket, Beveridge Way, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE30 4NB. Telephone: 01553 771881.
— Girl Happy
We try not to think too hard about road safety. At least, not in the forefront of our minds which we usually reserve for reflections on sex, drugs and rock'n'roll (and, of course, motorcycles).
But road safety and motorcycles go together like politics and corruption, and there are certain issues in life that you have to address whether or not you want to.
Anyhow, we've produced a few stickers that you can buy from the Sump shop. The sticker immediately above is designed to slap on either side of your crash helmet, ideally near the strap. We needn't explain it further here. Either you want it, or you don't want it. In which case you can maybe check out our other offerings; specifically the THINK BIKE sticker; the IDIOTS TAILGATE sticker, and the CAUTION: FRONT AND REAR CAMERAS (sounds cheeky, huh?).
Prices range from £1.95 each (for the longer stickers) to £1.95 a pair (for the helmet stickers). If you buy one or more sticker with any other Sump product, we'll work out a postage refund (which will happen automatically once we figure out which one of these stupid buttons we have to press). We won't cheat you.
Other stickers in the current Sump range...
▲ Sump THINK BIKE bumper sticker. Vinyl. 210mm x 45mm. £1.95 plus postage and packing. We put our own little twist on this familiar message with the Sump goggles device.
▲ Sump IDIOTS TAILGATE bumper sticker. Vinyl. 210mm x 45mm. £1.95 plus postage and packing. Tailgating kills us, metaphorically speaking at the moment. And it does kill, so help spread the word. Stick one of these somewhere visible, and keep your guard up.
▲ Sump CAUTION; FRONT & REAR CAMERAS bumper sticker. Vinyl. 210mm x 45mm. £1.95 plus postage and packing. Even if you haven't got a car camera, you can just tell lies (you know how to do that, don't you?). And if you want, you can send for our leaflet entitled: HOW TO MAKE A CONVINCING LOOKING CAR/BIKE CAMERA USING A TOILET ROLL TUBE, SOME DUCT TAPE, AND A PIECE OF SCRAP PERSPEX. It fools 'em every time...
— Del Monte
If you want a shot at getting yourself and your bike on the telly, you might want to mosey along to the Kickback Custom Bike Show at Stoneleigh Park, near Coventry, on 28th - 29th March 2015.
A TV crew filming for Henry Cole's The Motorbike Show will be in attendance gathering footage for a report on the state of British custom bike building via the Custom Bike Building National Championships.
This will be the fifth Kickback Show. The last event was at Donington Park in September 2014. But the organiser, Lorne Cheetham, will now be staging it twice a year; at Stoneleigh Park in March, and at Donington again in the September spot (specifically 19th - 20th September 2015).
Adult admission is £10 on the door for a day pass, or fifteen quid gets you a weekend ticket. There's camping and hotel accommodation nearby. According to the website, the show starts at 10.00am and closes at 5.00pm (but note that it says 5.30pm on the advert above).
Expect lots of "new wave" bikes, the usual custom bike suspects, live music, food, beer, semi-naked girls, semi-naked guys, show stands, bike sales, etc. And don't forget that TV crew and Henry (Gladstone) Cole on the prowl. The next series of The Motorbike Show will be broadcasted sometime in the summer of 2015.
— Big End