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DaveM

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V-twins on song

The H&H Classics sale at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham, achieved a total of £714,748, and a sell rate of 66%.

A very handsome and desirable 1925 NUT that had been with the vendor for some time, and was sold as part of his estate, made an impressive £28,350 at the sale held on November 2.

It was restored many years ago to a high standard with little use following this work.



It still had its original Hampshire registration and with a little recommissioning will make a superb machine.

Top price in the sale was this extremely well-presented Vincent Black Shadow (right).

Dispatched to Surtees of Forest Hill, London on November 19, 1951, it sold for £83,250.

This all-matching numbers Black Shadow was owned by the current vendor since the mid 1980s.



It was purchased by him in a complete, but dismantled state and was sent to Bob Dunn to be restored to concourse condition.

Over many years Mr Dunn took on all mechanical and engineering work.

Read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

DaveM

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The life and times of Jimmie Guthrie

A new book by German-domiciled Australian Paul Guthrie (not directly related), titled ‘Jimmie G.’ looks at the remarkable life of 1920s/30s motorcycle racing star Jimmie Guthrie and his tragic death in Germany in 1937.

The circumstances of Jimmie Guthrie’s fatal crash are explained from both the British and German perspectives.

More than simply a motorsport crash, it became a geopolitical incident which could have threatened British and German diplomatic relations.



The book explains why the British and German sides kept details of the crash under a veil of secrecy. What emerges is far more complicated and intriguing than any fictional story.

Price is £34 and it is stocked by most online retailers.

Read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

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Genuine Greenie

Of the many highlights to be included in Mecum’s Las Vegas sale, held over January 21-26, 2020 and set to feature 1750 motorcycles, ‘Greenie’ is perhaps one of the real stand-outs.

This Hollywood Green Harley-Davidson is perhaps the most discussed Harley-Davidson ‘Knucklehead’ of all time, as it has changed Knucklehead history not once, but twice.

First, it turned heads when it sold for more than any previous Knucklehead, as many thought it was an incorrect or customised machine.

In 1971, Harley-Davidson dealer Wayne ‘Pappy’ Pierce allowed this machine to be traded in on a new Sportster at his dealership in DeKalb, Illinois.

At the time, the going price of a used Knucklehead was far less than a new XL Sportster, which was a lopsided trade-in for a canny old dealer. What did Pappy know that nobody else remembered about prewar Harley-Davidsons?



When Pappy Pierce died, it was sold at auction to the current owner for a record-setting price.

The current owner of Greenie then searched to find the original invoices and documentation that proved this 1940 EL is in fact an original machine, ordered from the factory with green paint and nickel plating instead of chrome, as well as many extra details.

By proving it was an original machine, the owner and this bike changed the conversation around what is a ‘correct’ restoration of a prewar Harley-Davidson.

It has now been proven that Harley-Davidson offered custom motorcycles from 1926 onwards, using DuPont paints as colour options. Through further research, the owner has proven that such customisation was more norm, than the exception.

Much of this information was simply forgotten and never written down in factory histories, but a close examination of factory invoices and records reveals the true story.

This 1940 Harley-Davidson EL Knucklehead is a factory original motorcycle on which an amazing amount of time has been lavished in documenting its history.



In the process, the story of the Harley-Davidson factory and the rules for concours judging of prewar Harley-Davidsons have changed, making this machine a landmark of motorcycle scholarship.

As Greenie’s current owner has said: “This bike has changed Knucklehead history twice—and I expect it will make history once again.”

For details of the sale visit mecum.com

Read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

DaveM

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Last Elk of 2019

The theme at the last of Elk Promotions’ 2019 events was celebrating 70 years of Royal Enfield’s seemingly evergreen Bullet model, and there were numerous examples of the marque in attendance at the South of England Showground at Ardingly, Sussex, on October 27.

Oddly, no Bullets made the awards, but a 1938 Royal Enfield 500 JM was runner-up in the pre-1950 class, while ‘Best Royal Enfield’ was declared to be a rare 1971 ‘Gannet’.

As a brand, Royal Enfield may already have vanished, Japanese competition was intense, but Enfield specialists Gander & Gray had taken the learner favourite Continental GT and pushed the ‘cafe racer’ styling to a new level.

For students of matters AMC, there was a fascinating display of ‘what might have been’.

These were prototypes that never made it into production. Best pre-1950 was a 1948 Norton P6A, one of only two survivors after it was decided the Model 7 would become Norton’s take on a half-litre twin.

From 1965 was the 650 Norton ‘Unified’ twin, but parent company AMC was in financially straitened times by then.


Greeves Riders’ Fellowship joined the Bantam Owners to make the Stockmans Building a two-stroke haven.

‘Best British’ was awarded to a 1914 BSA. Joe Stanton’s Model K was one of the earlier 500cc versions, making a first visit to Ardingly. Class runner up was a 1927 Norton Model 18 from Steve Elston’s collection.

Personalities always feature at Ardingly and long distance travellers Gordon May, Zoe Cano and Jacqui Furneaux have all published books on their respective adventures.

A true stalwart of off-road sport was Johnny Giles, a Triumph works rider for many years and still working hard on ideas to improve the Meriden twins in which he delights – all that at 90 years old!

The British Owners’ Club of Essex have become Ardingly regulars and always have a variety of mainly classic machinery. This time, it merited the ‘Best Club Stand’.

Alan Turner.

View more images of this event and read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

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Hastings Week

While there may be no mention of motorcycles in any account of the Battle of Hastings, in recent years there has been a classic motorcycle show aspart of Hastings Week, afestival where the town marks the anniversary of that decisive conflict with various events.

As part of the week’s grand finale, the bikes line up on The Stade, an area on the seafront of the Old Town with the background of the East Cliff and the famous Hastings fishermen’s sheds.

Held on October 19, 2019, the event suffered unwelcome rain, but still saw more than80 machines in attendance, most from the postwar classic era.


Vic Laidlaw is suitably surprised to learn his bike was rated best on display.

The mayor of Hastings chose the winning entry and Vic Laidlaw was pleased to receive the award for his 1930s 500cc Ariel Red Hunter.

Acquired as a near-hopeless wreck, a comprehensive rebuild included reinstating the twin-port cylinder head. Once completed the bike has travelled many miles, including continental touring.

Alan Turner.

Read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

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Autumn extravaganza


Over the weekend of October 19-20, the Stafford County Showground welcomed classic enthusiasts of, predominantly, 1970s and 1980s classics.

Words: James Robinson Photographs: Gary Chapman


Innovative engineer Allen Millyard first came to prominence with his multi-cylinder Kawasaki based specials, as he added more cylinders to the 1970s two-strokes, as well as other Japanese-made machines.

But actually, he’s really interested in old British machinery too, as witnessed by his Velocette MAC-based V-twin, built up out of a Velo that has been in the family for many years.

The Velocette special was just one of the Millyard machines wowing the crowds at the Stafford show, while the man himself was on hand to explain the work that has gone into so many of his motorcycles.


Mark Cowdry’s American Eagle, centre, was Best in Show. It is, basically, a re-badged Kawasaki.

The physically biggest of the lot was his Flying Millyard, a big V-twin using two aircraft cylinders on a specially made crankcase. Apparently, the torque is something else.

And, yes, Allen rides it regularly. Sharing the duties with Allen as ‘star guest’ was Steve Webster, the 10-times sidecar world champion, who signed autographs and chatted to fans, as well as talking to compere Steve Plater.

That same stage saw Berkshire man Mark Cowdry pick up his award for Best in Show, earned with his 1969 American Eagle 350.


Haven’t I seen you somewhere before? Yes, it’s the HRD Model P featured in our October 2019 issue.

The story of American Eagle is an interesting one – the company was founded by former American Honda executive Jack McCormack, and it produced a range of machines, badged American Eagle, but sourced from elsewhere; for example, the 750cc offering was a Laverda twin, which was used for a short period by Evel Knievel.

The featured machine, as restored by Mark, came from Kawasaki, was also called the Marauder, and used the 338cc twin-cylinder two-stroke engine. Another from the Cowdry stable, a 1968 Kawasaki Avenger, took the title of Best Japanese bike.


What October Stafford is all about… Largely Japanese biased, there are always a few sparkling Brits in the mix too.

Elsewhere on the showground, the Bonhams auction was a two-day affair, with much of the Saturday sale seeing the dispersal of many machines from the closing London Motorcycle Museum.

In among the eclectic lots, some of the rarities achieved good prices. Before that, though, the saleroom had been hushed as Mike Hailwood’s gold Heuer watch, a gift from Jack Heuer, was sold for a whopping £56,312, including premium.

View more images of this event and read more News and Features in the January 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

DaveM

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Bristol is nearly here!

The 2020 Carole Nash Bristol Classic MotorCycle Show celebrates the 40th birthday of the event.
To mark the milestone, organisers are turning back the clock and throwing a 1970s/80s-themed birthday bash and, of course, everyone is invited.

Dressing up is encouraged and there will be a cash prize for the best-dressed visitor on both days. Visitors are encouraged to dig out their best 1970s and 80s clobber… flares, tank tops, platform shoes, shell suits, New Romantic frilly shirts – the lot.

You will also be able to marvel at the finest examples of private collection motorcycles.



Owners spend thousands of painstaking hours ensuring their exhibits are in the best possible condition, ready for display and inspection by the crowds and judges.

As expected at the Bristol show, there is a focus on the likes of Norton, BSA, Cotton and Sunbeam motorcycles and many more.

Alongside the machines on the show’s club stands, the private entries will be competing for a host of show awards, including the coveted Best in Show prize.



Free party bags with an advance ticket

What party would be complete without a party bag?

Well, in true birthday party style, the first 1000 people who purchase their ticket in advance will be given one FREE party bag per transaction, complete with an assortment of products and offers for any motorcycle enthusiast to enjoy.



Superb displays on club stands

Classic bikes, exotic continentals, rare contraptions… the wonderful and expansive mix of club stands packed into the halls at the Royal Bath & West Showground deliver a rare treat for motorcycle enthusiasts.

A quick browse of the A-Z list and all the big hitters are there, from the likes of the multi-interest VMCC and VJMC, through to the specialist owners’ clubs covering marques such as BSA, Norton, Suzuki and Kawasaki, among many others.

Autojumble as far as the eye can see

If visitors are looking for a great day out filled with motorcycle bargains, the 40th Carole Nash Bristol Classic MotorCycle Show is the place to be.



Hundreds of traders showcased their wares last year and this year’s event is set to be even bigger and better.

With a mammoth display of spare parts, tools, books, magazines, signs and complete machines, you’ll find exactly what you are looking for.

To get your tickets, go to www.bristolclassicbikeshow.com



The 40th Carole Nash Bristol show is at the Royal Bath & West showground, ST18 0BD on Saturday and Sunday, February 1/2, 2020.

Read more News and Features in the February 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

Rocky

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They put on such great events over there TUP
 

grandpaul

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Dang, I missed a TON of good posting while on vacation!

Thanx, Dave.
 

DaveM

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February 2020 issue on sale!

The brand new February 2020 issue of The Classic MotorCycle magazine offers a lavishly illustrated celebration of legendary machines, riders and races, and news, reviews and rare period images from the golden age of motorcycling.

Drawing on an archive stretching back to 1903, The Classic MotorCycle provides an unparalleled insight into more than a century of motorcycle design, development, riding, racing and much more.

The Classic MotorCycle cover


This month’s issue includes:

What could have been?

Bob Chapman’s Brooklands is an example of a motorcycle that never quite was but really should’ve been.

Gilera 50 trial

Proving that 50cc machines can be viable and most importantly lots of fun, this little Gilera is testament to the ‘small is beautiful’ mantra.

Military M20

Most of BSA’s WD M20s went to the ground forces, but some were supplied to the Royal Navy. Len Page, with a family RN connection, restored this one well.

A subscription means you can enjoy all of this, plus plenty of other benefits such as making a major saving on the cover price and FREE postage.

It’s quick and easy to sign up and, whether you do it online or over the phone, our team is ready and waiting to get your new deal under way or extend your current package.
 

DaveM

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From the archive: 1961 BSA Super Rocket – Beautiful A10 Beezer


When John Foster first laid eyes on this BSA Super Rocket he was actually in the market for a Velocette, but the stunning pre-unit Beezer was enough to sway John’s affections on the spot.

Words: MICHAEL BARRACLOUGH Photography: GARY CHAPMAN


The 650cc BSA A10 twins were praised for their reliability and handsome appearance, and this 1961 Super Rocket belonging to John Foster – resplendent in that classic red and chrome livery – is a fine example of why these machines received such praise.

As mentioned above, John was more interested in buying a Velocette when he first clapped eyes on this BSA, but he decided there and then that this machine possessed that ‘je ne sais quoi’, and was very keen to add it to his stable.



The story goes that John, who had been on the hunt for a Velo, was visiting a dealer that had a suitable machine in stock.

John visited this dealer with a friend, and was perusing the selection of machines (which included the Velo) when his friend called out: “John, I’ve found it.” John was led over to the Super Rocket. The machine was £1000 more expensive than the Velocette, but upon seeing the red Beezer John decided that this machine was worth the extra expenditure.



This is a ’61 Super Rocket, which marks it as one of the last pre-unit BSAs. The Super Rocket was first introduced into the BSA roster in time for the 1958 season, and it came in as a sporty model that replaced the Road Rocket which, in turn, was derived from the A10 Golden Flash.



The Super Rocket produced 42bhp and had a compression ratio of 8.3:1. The cylinder head was a new and improved fitment, and the carburettor – which had been an Amal TT carb – was now a large-bore Amal Monobloc.



The Super Rocket bore a distinct resemblance to the old A10, but the chrome mudguards and separate headlamp of the Road Rocket were eschewed in favour of the sports guards that were found on the Shooting Star, and the all-encompassing 1958 headlamp nacelle replaced the separate headlamp and speedo.



Apart from the adoption of cigar-shaped silencers, a stiffer, higher-lift camshaft and some minor amendments to the lubrication system and electrics, the Super Rocket never changed too radically.

For 1961, the year of origin of this particular machine, there were no changes, and the days of the pre-unit twin were shuffling irrevocably to a close.



The motorcycle market was shrinking and cars were becoming increasingly popular, and these issues – exacerbated by several other factors including the short supply of Lucas magnetos – ultimately led to the A65 unit twins and the beginning of BSA’s final chapter.

The A7 and A10 machines were ready to be axed in 1962 when the first unit twins appeared, but the Super Rocket, with new silencers and modified gears and brakes, managed to cling on well into 1963 before BSA finally discontinued it.



Finer details

BSA SUPER ROCKET 1961

ENGINE

646cc four-stroke ohv parallel twin
BORE X STROKE
70mm x 84mm
COMPRESSION RATIO
8.3:1
CARBURETTOR
Amal Monobloc
POWER OUTPUT
42bhp
GEARBOX
BSA four-speed
SUSPENSION
Telescopic forks in front, two Girling units at the rear
BRAKES
8in front, 7in rear
TANK CAPACITY
Four gallons
IGNITION
Lucas K2F magneto
 

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Wouldn't I love to have that one!!!
I had an A10 in the fifties and it was a wonderful bike. I rode it for three summers and over 18,000 miles and it never let me down once - even on that trip to Boston in 1957 which was over 800 miles one way back then before we had modern four-lane highways.
 

DaveM

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Vic Eastwood (1941-2019)

Former scrambling star Vic Eastwood has died, aged 78. A member of BSA’s works motocross team, he was fourth in the 1965 500cc world championship, while he also won the 1968 British Motocross GP, riding a Husqvarna.

He placed second in the British championship eight times.


Vic Eastwood in action on the BSA in 1965, the year in which he was fourth in the world championship.

During the 1970s he rode for CCM, and then Honda, becoming a Honda main dealer in 1980, a year after his professional racing retirement. He leaves wife Ann and sons Mark and Scott.

Read more News and Features in the February 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

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Motorcycling legend Colin Seeley has sadly died

Taken in August 1968, Colin Seeley is pictured with Mike Hailwood. Photo: Mortons Archive.
Taken in August 1968, Colin Seeley is pictured with Mike Hailwood. Photo: Mortons Archive.

Motorcycle racing and manufacturing legend Colin Seeley has died at the age of 84. It is understood he had been unwell for some time.

Seeley was a successful sidecar racer in the 1960s and with Wally Rawlings won a number of British and World Championship races, including the 1964 Dutch TT, a race he called his biggest victory.

Nine years ago, The Classic MotorCycle had the pleasure to sit down with Colin Seeley about his career and achievements over six decades in the motorcycling industry.

How did you get involved in motorcycling?

I was determined to ride for as long as I can remember. I went to watch at Brands Hatch when it was first surfaced in 1950 and ridden the opposite way round. It was always the sidecars that impressed me. I remember Eric Oliver with his Norton but particularly works test rider Ted Davis with the Vincent.


How did you get started?

First, there were early off-road excursions. I left school at 15 and began an engineering apprenticeship. At 16 years old I passed my test on my father’s Vincent, a 1939 Series A, one of which we have just sold at Bonhams for a record breaking sum. I could not afford to race until I was running my own business. I actually started riding in scrambles with a Triumph.

Until 1963, you were sidecar racing with AMC machinery. Were you officially attached to the factory?

As an AMC agent the factory helped me in my race endeavours. I can still remember how appalled Jack Williams was when he saw us fitting 16in wheels to a brand new G50 Matchless and welding a sidecar to it – I was a self-taught welder!

Any other memories of AMC?

My first wife, Joan, worked as a secretary in the sales office, where Jock West was in charge. We first met at the factory and married in 1962.

Photo: Mortons Archive.
Photo: Mortons Archive.
Who were your most feared or respected rivals when you were sidecar racing?

I didn’t fear them, but my era probably saw some of the most competitive sidecar racing, with people such as Max Deubel, Georg Auerbacher, Pip Harris, Chris Vincent, Jacky Beeton, Helmut Fath, Fritz Scheidegger, Florian Camathias and so many more, all capable of winning on their day.

Is there any special event, or events you recall as a racer?

The Isle of Man was always special. I rode there seven times. Six times I finished in the top six and had three rostrum placings, but never made the top step. I believe I hold the fastest Island lap by a single cylinder sidecar outfit. Possibly the best victory was winning the Dutch TT in 1964, there was always keen rivalry between the British and the Germans but that day we were in front of them all.

Tell us about Wally Rawlings. Were you always teamed with him?

Unfortunately, Wally is no longer with us. He rode in the 1959 Manx Grand Prix, and even sold his bike to join me as a passenger, at which he was excellent. He worked in my businesses with me until 1973, when he moved to the West County. For my last races in 1967, I teamed up with Roy Lindsey.

Your books must contain the most comprehensive record of racing during that period. How long did it take to write them?

I didn’t work full-time, but it was seven years in all. In spite of the ups and downs of my business career, I had kept a lot of records and papers that helped enormously in putting the books together.

Taken at Mallory Park in September 1969, Colin Seeley is seen with Mike Hailwood. Photo: Mortons Archive.
Taken at Mallory Park in September 1969, Colin Seeley is seen with Mike Hailwood. Photo: Mortons Archive.
You have had success as a racer, a manufacturer, a writer, a team manager and a charity organiser – which has been the most rewarding?

Everything has been rewarding in its own way. I have worked with, and been supported by, different people in each of those areas. I believed we could all take pride in what we had achieved as part of a team.

Do you ride on the road?

I haven’t ridden on the road for some time – I can’t find the time! I still demonstrate race bikes; I think I can still put on a good show and I find that very satisfying.

What about your relationship with Bernie Ecclestone?

I knew Bernie right from the start of our working lives. In the 1970s we worked t together in Motor Racing Developments (building Brabham race cars) and I consider I have dealt with that period fairly and openly in my book. The working arrangement is mentioned in other publications, but I have not always been asked to give my version of events. I have not spoken to Bernie for a long time.

Tell us something we don’t know about Colin Seeley

The Joan Seeley Pain Relief Memorial Trust tries to help as many people as it can in gratitude for the treatment Joan, my first wife, received. The care she received went beyond the bounds of duty. Anaesthetist Dr Frances Sorrell, head of department at Greenwich Hospital, readily agreed to become chairman of the trustees.


Colin Seeley with Wally Rawlings in the chair, third in the 1962 Sidecar TT on his G50. Photo: Mortons Archive.

How do we some up Colin Seeley’s life, career and decades of involvement in motorcycling? He wrote in his second book ‘Colin Seeley…and the rest’ that it had been a fantastic journey from the early days. From passing his test on his father’s Vincent HRD sidecar outfit, working as a mechanic at Schwieso Brothers to starting up on his own in 1954.

“I have been privileged to have known many British World Champions,” he acknowledged. “Geoff Duke, Bill Lomas, John Surtees, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read, Bill Ivy, Ralph Bryans, Dave Simmonds, Rod Gould and, of course, Barry Sheene, not forgetting the three-wheeled World Champions Eric Oliver, Jock Taylor, Steve Webster, Darren Dixon and Tim Reeves, all fantastic.”

Rest in peace, Colin Seeley.
 

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Mike Hailwood and Phil Collins were separated at birth
 

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Pete Rutterford

Sidecar racing passenger Pete Rutterford lost his battle against cancer on November 24, 2019.

Pete entered the bike racing world by scrambling various machines before switching to sidecar passengering.

He had a lot of success as a passenger to many, including Colin Golesworthy, Georg Auerbacher and Siggi Schauzu, who Pete had much regard for and kept in contact with.

Pete’s biggest achievement was winning the world championship in 1971 on the Fath four URS outfit, ridden by Horst Owelsle.


Pete Rutterford, partnering Siegfried Schauzu at Brands Hatch in 1970.

After racing, Pete took up aerobatic flying with a Pitts Special, before a crash in foggy conditions ended his competitive flying days.

Pete and I met at the Saltbox motorcycle cafe in the early 1960s and we remained friends ever since. He kept riding right up to the end.

He will be much missed, not least, of course, by his wife and daughter.

Geoff Trotman.

Read more News and Features in the February 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle –on sale now!
 

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END OF AN ERA: Looking back at the 1938 Senior Manx Grand Prix



Words: Richard Rosenthal Photographs: Mortons Archive

Despite the gathering war clouds, as Ken Bills bump-started his 490cc ohc Norton for the 1938 Senior Manx Grand Prix (MGP), few would have imagined that he would be the last MGP winner for eight years.

The background

By the summer of 1923, planning was well underway for the first Amateur Tourist Trophy (TT), scheduled for September 20 of that year.

On the day, 29 riders astride 500cc racers and another four on 350s were flagged away for their five laps of the ‘proper’ Isle of Man TT course.

Three hours, 34min, 32sec later, Les Randles (493cc sv Sunbeam) won at 52.77mph, with teenager Kenneth Twemlow (344cc ohv New Imperial) second at 52.46mph. As well as his second overall, young Ken was the 350cc class winner.



Unfortunately, his brother Edwin, also on A 344cc ohv New Imperial, was out of luck on that day.

Apart from offering racing on a level playing field (well, that was the plan) the Amateur TT and later Manx GP served as a nursery for future TT riders and the Twemlow boys proved they had learned well.

In 1924, Ken won the Junior TT at 55.67mph and Edwin the Lightweight at 55.44mph, both on ohv JAP-powered New Imps.

Edwin won the Lightweight again in 1925, with his brother third, and the pair enjoyed more top six places racing different marques, before finishing their IoM career in 1930.

The Amateur TT continued until 1927 as a single race event with 500s and 350s racing concurrently. In 1928 and 1929, the Senior and Junior were run separately.

But by then, the ACU and Manx Club officials were unhappy with the antics of some riders.

The success of the Amateur TT had attracted factory interest and although some claimed amateur status, they were turning out on works-prepared motorcycles, albeit sometimes furnished via dealers.

Read more and view more images in the October 2019 issue of The Classic MotorCycle.
 
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