Archive for October, 2011

October 31, 2011

The Cavalry’s here!

A truly evocative image of a mid-Twentieth Century cavalry. Here an army rears up on their new BSA M-20 motos heading into the fray! Wonderful artwork in the clean 30’s graphic vein.

October 30, 2011

George Lawrie and his BSA

My grandfather, George Lawrie (1909-1965) served in the Military Police during the Second World War; spending the duration mostly in North Africa. I recall from a very early age pictures of him in the desert on an old motorcycle. Some old photo albums of my Gran recently resurfaced and a photo of him astride an M20 was amongst them. Great Stuff!
It just so happens that there is similar early 40’s military spec M20 up for auction at nearby Glenview IL; part of a lifetimes collection by a chap called Lee Roy Hartung of automobile’s and motorcycle’s. Hartung specialized in interwar items including: Hendersons, Excelsiors, Harleys, Indians, Flying Merkel and a 1913 Pope. Outstanding selection of important bikes from the teens, twenties and thirties. I spied the BSA amongst them on the aution page; here are a few detail shots of it in splendid original patina.

Given the coffers, and space, I would try and get it running as-is, and enjoy its simple thumping ride as my grandfather would have.
October 30, 2011

The True Dedicated Ownership of a 40 year old British Bike

Well, I thought I’d get out for a spin with this beautiful autumn weather. Leaf colour, blue skies, a slight chill in the air.

A quiet road, sun behind me, all afternoon…

…until the old gal started hicking; I turned for home but only made it halfway through Highland Park… … Engine dead; a sort wait for a kind fella cycling with his sons, he went home to drive back with his Prius, we tried to jump the bike with his big motor battery; no luck. However Dean called back from a message I left, he’d be up in his Ford Ranger.

In the meantime I pushed the bike down to Bob’s Pantry so I could sit and wait. Just as the sun was setting over the Braeside Metra station Dean arrives and we tote the bike back to Evanston. Well that puts paid to this years riding; a strip down of the electrical sysem is in order, a new harness and hopefull all good to go for Spring 2012!

Loaded on the Ranger; lifesaver!
B.S.A. continues tomorrow!
October 29, 2011

BSA in Wartime

As mentioned in the Che piece a couple of days ago, the British motorcycle industry turned manufacturing over to military needs during the Second World War. As well as Norton and Matchless; B.S.A. (Birmingham Small Arms) were to create some trusty rides that saw action across the globe. The Small Heath works created the side valve 500cc single designated the M20, which became the model of choice by the armed services. At its height 1,000 machines were coming off the assembly line per week – over 126,000 manufactured overall; some still in service today. The M21, a ‘big brother’ 600cc used for sidecar work was also produced.

Ride like an Egyptian…   … the telescopic forks confuse me somewhat, so if anyone can enlighten: they are typically fitted with girder forks.

Sturdy looking sidevalve motor:
Here’s a great link to the specifics of owning a wartime brit-iron:
It looks a smasher in olive green, a veritable two-wheeled Jeep!
October 29, 2011

Red and Silver

Shiny, shiny cafe’d oil-in-frame Bonnie. Red framed and chrome tanked as well as a comfy Corbin seat. Nicely detailed and crafted to be a real head turner!

October 28, 2011

¡Viva la Revolución!:

Here’s where a certain Norton motorcycle changed world affairs; in 1952 a young medical student Ernesto Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado travelled the length of South America witnessing the poverty, exploitation, and economoc extremes that changed the course of his life indefinitely. Their steed, a 1939 500cc model was named El Poderosa “The Mighty One”,

El Poderosa (copy)

Norton 16H 500cc Side Valve Single

The iconic Alberto Korda photograph ‘Guerrillero Heroico” of Che which became THE defining image of the Twentieth Century.

A wonderfully evocative movie “The Motorcycle Diaries” based on his autoboigraphical book of the same name, starring Gael García Bernal as Che and Rodrigo de la Serna as Alberto. A Norton featured as the third main character.

October 27, 2011

Triple Cool

What could be more hip than these three tootling about the set of The Great Escape on this German Rig. McQueen ‘Hilts’ driving; Garner ‘The Scrounger’ pillion and Coburn ‘Sedgwick’ sitting lazily in the chair. Director John Sturges looks on.

October 26, 2011

Apple Green, Rose Red and Triumph Orange

Looking into different variations of a warm orange colour scheme for my new tank: a fiery glow to show off the bike. It has been a staple tone for the Big T for over fifty years: from the first Bonnie; the X75 special in the seventies; through the nineties Hinckley triples to the modern naked sports bikes.

October 25, 2011


A timepiece bearing the Triumph logo as well as numerous timing, countdown, stopwatch, and alarm functions. Chunky like a James Bond chronograph..

..or something for the Interational traveller perhaps; complete with a second timezone.

Or a little more sophisticated; suits you sir?
October 24, 2011

The Sun Never Sets…

Around the World across the British Empire the Triumph was considered the chosen transporation for checking in on the locals. “How’s the bean crop coming on Carhurst?”

October 22, 2011


A short docu-film by Matt Harrington: “Machine”. Super cinematography, editing and subject.
October 21, 2011

Mustang Driver

Last weekend our trip to Upstate NY was meant to be taken driving about in a Mini Cooper Convertible; true Michael Caine style! However the rental place was out of them 😦  Not to worry, they had as an alternate a Black Ford Mustang Ragtop… what could we do? I had to take it, then I could be McQueen-bound a la Bullitt careening around the streets of Manhattan and lanes of the Berkshires! Nope it wasn’t as punchy as his ’68 Fastback 390 c.i. Mustang, but I had fun on the curvy roads nonetheless!

October 21, 2011

Catch Me

Red-Headed, Eye-Patched Vixen of the Road. Sailors Beware!

Would make a great upper arm tat; but alas my better ‘alf would kill me!

October 20, 2011

Motorcyclist: Cafe Racer Cover

Back in ’73, a Triumph becomes the basis for a seventies period cafe racer: blue and yellow, chesterfiled plush saddle, big disc brakes with alloy rims abd the typical clip-ons and rear sets. The onlookers have an obvious interest in it at least!
October 19, 2011

Mod Adverts

The fifties and sixties saw a refreshing style in the graphic arts as well as product design. Eames’, Saarinen, Nelson et al. Here is a threesome of Meriden product promotion in slick and swift handed period illustration.

The first is a pair of Trophy towed by a Ford Cortina (I recall the tail-light of the Mk 1 my Pa had in the mid 70’s)

Carnaby Street revellers enjoy a post Bonneville jaunt.

…and finally a Speed Twin is admired by a cool crowd.