They'll be built in Somerset, England, will be powered by 1237cc V4 Honda VFR1200 engines, will be capable of around 165mph, and will carry Ariel badges on the tanks. Which makes them ... well, Ariels. Sort of.
[more on the Ariel Ace]
He was 98, and that's some innings for a guy who took as many bullets as Eli Herschel Wallach, born in Brooklyn, New York. Fortunately, most of those bullets were celluloid and were picked up whilst playing a baddy that everyone loved. But he wasn't always a baddy. He was a versatile actor who could handle comedy, drama, suspense, and pathos.
His acting career started in the 1940s, but it was perhaps in Baby Doll (1956) that Wallach took those fledgling steps on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Baby Doll was his first film, a tense Mississippi-set piece about life and death and cotton; a role that set the tone for his gritty, angry, fiery and larger-than-life persona.
In 1960, this Jewish actor played a Mexican bandit and was up against Yul Brynner, James Coburn and Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven.
In 1965 he took a role in Lord Jim with Peter O'Toole. The following year he carried a part in How to Steal a Million with Audrey Hepburn.
That same year, he was in another part of the world starring opposite Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (possibly one of the best westerns ever made after High Noon, Shane, True Grit, The River of No Return and Once Upon a Time in America).
Wallach popped up again, notably, in The Godfather Part III (1990) and in Wall Street (2010). And in between, he was always in demand either as an actor, or a personality.
During a career spanning six decades, Wallach received various acting awards (BAFTA, Tony and Emmy). And in 2010, he was given an Honorary Academy Award for service rendered to the motion picture industry, which was appropriate enough for a man who helped put millions of rear ends of cinema seats around the world, and brought home a lot of popcorn for Hollywood.
He is survived by his wife, three children, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Almost everybody of a certain age knew his voice, but fewer knew his name. Actor Francis Matthews, the man who helped Captain Scarlet walk and talk has died aged 86.
Matthews was one of those dependable English Thespians who appeared on our TV screens in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, quickly found his mark, delivered his lines, followed his directions and left the screen, a competent and personable actor, but never one destined to reach any great heights.
Perhaps most famously remembered for the TV detective series Paul Temple (image immediately below) which ran from 1969 - 1971, Matthews played his usual suave, urbane, decent and respectable English type busily solving mysteries in the UK, Denmark, West Germany and pretty much anywhere else on the European mainland where you could enjoy a martini, chat up the sweet young things of the era, and find a dagger in a man's back (not necessarily in that order).
He had a spot in the 1963 Norman Wisdom movie, A Stitch in Time; then found himself in Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966); enjoyed himself in two episodes of The Avengers (1966 and 1967); and had a small part in the movie Crossplot starring Roger Moore (1969). And generally, he was just "around" on TV, in movies, and in theatre.
But it through was Captain Scarlet, the Gerry & Sylvia Anderson TV puppet series that Matthews became one of the most familiar voices of a generation. He's been said to have modelled his Captain Scarlet voice on actor Cary Grant—or, more accurately, on Tony Curtis's impersonation of Cary Grant's voice in the movie Some Like It Hot (1959).
Captain Scarlet, however, was made "indestructible by fate", but Francis Matthews wasn't and died after a short illness. He'll no doubt be remembered for many years to come, but only obliquely as a papier mache character stringing it along in a kid's TV show. So remember him now, if you will.
We reported in December 2013 Sump that the UK government had launched a parking consultation document specifically seeking views about the dubious use of CCTV camera cars.
Well, that consultation ended on 14th February 2014, and the government is now moving full speed towards its new Deregulation Bill. The upshot is that significant changes are afoot, not least to the practice of using camera cars alone to issue parking tickets.
Soon, only a parking warden will be able to issue tickets, except when the offending vehicle is "obstructing" a bus lane or a red route, or parked illegally outside a school. In those instances, roadside camera evidence will be sufficient. But in other urban or extra urban environments, only a walking talking "ticket Nazi" can do the dirty deed.
Additionally, the law will be changed so that parking on a broken meter, when there is no other means to pay (by phone, etc), will not result in a ticket. And if that isn't enough, challenging a parking ticket and losing that challenge currently means that a motorist or motorcyclist has to pay the FULL cost of the penalty (as opposed to being granted a fifty percent discount for early settlement). Well that will change too with failed challenges being granted a 25 percent discount.
The rationale behind the move is, ostensibly, simply to make town centres and high streets more accessible to motorised road users. But naturally, next year's election probably has more to do with it.
Predictably, there are supporters and non-supporters of this parking bill. Eric Pickles, the government's Communities Secretary, sees camera cars "lurking on every street raking in cash for greedy councils and breaking the rules that clearly state that fines should not be used to generate profit for town halls."
Well we haven't noticed quite that many camera cars, and councils have to eat too. But we're no fans of mobile snoopers, so we won't be crying ourselves to sleep tonight.
Meanwhile, Kelvin Reynolds, Director of Policy & Public Affairs at the British Parking Association, has made a far more valid point and one that's worth noting.
Said Reynolds, “The government has sprung these amendments on everyone with little notice, and without publishing either an analysis of the consultation responses or the government view. The proposed approach is heavy handed by a government which is seeking to deregulate.”
What it means, simply, is that the government has pulled a fast one, and if they can do that to the nation's councils, they can do it to bikers and the biking lobby.
Put simply, the Deregulation Bill is probably a good thing, but it's (arguably) being done the wrong way. Chew on that.
— Sam 7
It's been a long time coming, but we figured that we'd get there sooner or later. And anyway, we've had a lot of emails from Sumpsters around the world asking us "why the hell aren't there Harley features on our cool website?"
After our blushes died away, we explained that we first wanted to establish ourselves with the British iron. That's where our roots are, after all. Triumphs, BSAs, Nortons, AMC bikes and ... well, one or two less exciting marques.
But then we had to admit that we've been into Harleys for years, and between us we've owned quite a few, have road-tested dozens, and have kept up to date. So crossing the Atlantic was a natural enough progression. Moreover, we've also carried a fair bit of Harley news over the past few years, and we're well acquainted with Hogs and the whole V-twin tradition. So we've shifted up a gear, that's all (or is that down a gear?).
Anyway, you can check out our Sportster buyers guide feature thingy and tell us where we went wrong. But keep in mind it's a kind of beta version and still being tweaked and improved and corrected.
And if you're into the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, we've got it covered too. So follow the link and come with us on a ride into new Sump territory.
Lastly, we ain't finished with British iron. Not by a long way. We're just enjoying ourselves and trying new stuff and generally getting it on, and if that ain't what life is all about, we don't know nothing.
▲ An electric Harley? Some will naturally be shocked by Milwaukee's volte face. But a cleaner future beckons. Batteries, by the way, are included.
It's got a 74bhp AC electric motor, has a range of around 50-odd miles, can reach 60mph in a handful of seconds (or less), and has a top speed of a little over 90mph. It's also got the legendary Harley-Davidson badge on the "petrol tank".
Sounds unpromising, but HD has clearly read the writing on the wall and wants to get a little piece of the electric action, hence the company's first venture into a market that's already beginning to look a little crowded.
It's not clear where or when the final versions of this "LiveWire" concept will appear. But right now, HD isn't overly concerned with delivery dates. Instead, the firm is simply carving out a small piece of territory, planting its colours, and is softening up its more hard line customers and fans—some of whom are still lamenting the passing of the Panhead and the Shovelhead, bikes that went out of production (respectively) in 1965 and 1985.
The new LiveWire Hog is likely to be hugely expensive; meaning, perhaps, £30,000 - £50,000. But that hasn't stopped the richer folk buying Harleys. And plenty of poor boys will no doubt be prepared to mortgage their souls for something like this.
The bike is likely to be hugely divisive too. But Harley-Davidson is used to that as well. With every new leap forward, not least the Evo engine and the V-Rod, the knives have come out. And HD is still there, as strong as ever, and arguable the most famous motorcycle brand on the planet.
As a concept, we have to say that we're not exactly blown away by it. But then, we're still mourning the passing of the Knucklehead.
Either way, surely the new Harley-Davidson LiveWire should have been called an "Electric-Glide"? It's got a kind of ring to it, don't ya think?
— The Third Man
If you live anywhere within 20 or 30 miles of High Beech, Essex (variously known as High Beach), the chances are that you'll know about the tea hut in Hill Wood. It's been run by the same family for 80 years and happily serving up drinks and snacks to all and sundry, not least the hundreds or even thousands of bikers who descend on the spot year after year.
The hut is currently run by 33-year old Bradley Melton who leases the franchise from the City of London Corporation. Melton is the third generation of his family, and understandably he's very comfortable right where he is. So are most, if not all, of his customers.
However, things could well be changing and someone else might be taking over the pitch. It's all because the City of London Corporation wants to hike the rent, and to do that they feel they need to put the spot out to tender to see just how high the bidding will go.
Sounds harsh, but the Corporation claims it has a budget cut of 12.5 percent, and it needs to make good the shortfall. And there's little doubt that there are people or companies out there with deeper pockets than Melton, so the writing's on the wall.
Or is it? A Facebook page has been set up, plus a petition. And Melton wants some support.
Some folk will no doubt say that Melton's family has had a decent run of business and they'll just have make some concession to market forces. Some people will say that it's dog eat dog in this world, so get over it. Some will say that bikers have dominated the spot for too long, and to the disadvantage of other visitors including horse riders and non-biking forest visitors.
But others will no doubt want to get behind this and give Melton all the support he can get. They'll argue that everyone has so far got along with everyone else, so leave it well alone. They'll also argue that the world has enough boutique coffee houses and a shortage of earthy, grassroots watering holes.
But we can't see these latter arguments doing much to persuade the City of London Corporation, and by December 2014, Melton's lease expires. So where do you stand on this one?
High Beech petition
UPDATE: After much negotiation, the tea hut has since officially re-opened (29th July 2016). It's now operating from what's been described as an eight ton shipping container, which is probably exactly what it is. We haven't got around to (re)visiting it yet, but no doubt we'll stop by sooner or later.
— Girl Happy
It's 30 years since this marque was last in production, but now it's back with a brand new bike sporting a (nominally) 1,950cc S&S engine churning out 125bhp and 140ft/lbs of torque.
As we reported back in Sump November 2013, the new bikes, under the ownership of Paul Sleeman, were scheduled to be available from February 2014. But that deadline came and went, and now it's June.
[more on Paul Sleeman's Hesketh...]
Bonhams fielded 102 bikes (out of 115 biking lots) at the 2014 Banbury Summer Sale of which just 8 failed to find buyers. The top seller was the above 1955 998cc Vincent Black Prince project (Lot 55) which has been off the road for 47 years following a failed attempt at restoration. The price? £91,100. That's a huge amount of money for an otherwise unremarkable box of Vincent large lumps, especially when it's not complete or correct (the front fairing, we hear, is a DMD Streamliner).
In fact, Bonhams tells us it's a world record for a Black Prince, adding that it sold for almost four times its estimate. Beyond that, the firm's Summer Sale turned over a whopping £2.4 million, which, they say, is roughly double last year's turnover. [more on Bonhams Banbury Sale 2014]
We don't know whether to laugh or cry, so we're probably just going to shrug and get drunk again instead. But it seems that Avon & Somerset police have taken delivery of an Ariel Atom as a high-profile device to deter speeders in the county.
The 350bhp Atom is powered by a supercharged Honda engine. Generally, these cars costs around £38,000 - £40,000. But this one has been "borrowed" from the manufacturers as part of a joint initiative called Safer Rider.
The idea is to show local speed merchants that the force can outrace them any time it wants—which hardly impresses us in view of the abysmal record of police drivers who are famous for ploughing into passing motorists and offing the occasional innocent pedestrian.
If the government really wants to tackle speeding, it needs to do something more than turn the roads in a Scalextric track. How? By dramatically increasing penalties. Or by legislating for instant bans. Or radically limiting vehicle power. Or re-engineering the roads to "design out" speed.
However, not everyone is likely to give their approval to the above options, but compared to having PC Plod racing around in a wannabe formula one racer and throwing down challenges and thereby upping the speed ante, we're wondering if Nick Gargan, Chief Constable of the Avon & Somerset Police (image left), has got his cap on the right way around.
This, by the way, is the same £148,159 per year Nick Gargan who has recently been suspended pending an investigation into his alleged inappropriate conduct with female officers and other staff. He's only been in the job (or is it "on the job"?) for a year, and already he's all but having his own collar felt.
Poor old Nick (perfect name for a copper, huh?) might well be innocent of the charges, but he's clearly got a little raciness somewhere in his soul that's bound to manifest itself in various ways.
Meanwhile, pumping out a press release about a saucy little police car that can take on the best of the bad-ass bikers and crotch rocketeers is either a shrewd move, or a painfully transparent ploy intent on diverting our attention away from matters that Avon & Somerset would rather kick into the longest grass possible.
— Sam 7
Here's yet another crook out to rip off someone. This pre-war Matchless is advertised at a buy-it-now price of £5,600. The seller has been an eBay member (under his current alias) since June 2nd 2014. And he (or even she) claims he's/she's owned the bike for 25 years.
We're not going to give you his eBay name and details because there's no sense in spreading this guy's pitch any more than necessary. We don't, after all, want to encourage Google to follow the link and increase his ranking, do we? So just avoid this bike if you come across it, and watch out for similar unlikely offers.
As a general rule, never advance money on the promise of a delivery. Always see the bike before you buy. Take a snapshot of any seller (if you can), and dump the image after a few months when you're satisfied it's all kosher.
As an added safeguard, ask a few shrewd questions about whatever bike you're interested in. You'll be amazed at how thick some of these scamsters are (but not so thick that they can't inveigle their way into a lot of unsuspecting pockets).
Anyone who's owned a Matchless for a quarter of a century will probably know pretty much all there is to know about it. At least, they'll generally know enough to talk intelligently about the bike. But these crooks are always unsure and hesitant (and we've spoken with a few). It's often a quick giveaway.
They might, however spin you an inheritance yarn ("used to be my late father's bike/late husband's bike, etc). Just be warned. Be smart. This problem isn't likely to go away any time soon.
— Girl Happy
Paul Wexham's Cotswold Classics venture has ceased trading. We were tipped off about this some weeks ago, but now it's official. The company is finished. The website URL (address) is up for sale to the highest bidder. Ditto the bikes, some of which are being auctioned by Charterfields, an "International Assets Management" firm with offices in London, Manchester and Sheffield.
The last year of available company accounts (up to March 2013) shows that the firm's assets were £236,696, the liabilities were £166,419, with a net worth of £76,250.
In recent years, Cotswold has been a leading classic bike advertiser fielding up to 100 machines and frequently taking out large adverts in the usual rags. More recently, however, the financial climate has, we understand, hit trading profits. But it's not clear that that's the reason for the collapse.
The company directors are 58-year old Paul William Wexham and 50 year old Jane Marguerite Wexham. There is, or was, another facet of the business that traded in number plates, but we have no information if that has also ceased or is ongoing.
The auction opens on Monday 16th June 2014 at 10:00am. Viewing is on 18th June 2014 between 10:00am and 4.00pm, or by appointment. The auction closes on 23rd June 2014. The sale will include bikes, spares, helmets and visors.
The location is: Alan Hindle Transport, Waterside Business Park, Darcy Lever, Bolton, BL3 2PP.
— Del Monte
The Northampton Classic MX club (AMCA affiliated) is to stage a new event for classic bikes, and is looking for entries. The date is Sunday 6th July 2014. The location is Woodford, Northants (near Kettering). It's an established track, mostly grass, and has been used until now for modern events. But the club is looking to change that.
Classes will include solos and sidecars; pre-1960 and pre-1974, etc. Sean Mallows, former world sidecar world champion, might be putting in an appearance, we hear, and the club is said to be considering approaching Dave Bickers, Jim Holt and Dave Curtis.
The organisers are also hoping that some of you trials and motocross boys will bring a display bike or two to help stage a concours display. Also, if you're a rider of yesteryear, please come along and/or make yourself visible now. England expects, etc.
The organisers are Pete Griffith on 01604 768812, and Colin Hill on 01536 521006.
These are pretty apathetic days for most of us, but snap out of it and see if you can summon a little energy and enthusiasm and help get this one off the ground. You know you'll enjoy it once you get yourself out of that armchair.
— Del Monte