Today in Motorcycle History

Vintage and Pre-War Motorcycles

The list is slowly growing, thanks to uploads from readers.

1929 BSA Sloper, 500cc OHV, Model S29
One of the best-known Vintage BSAs, whose forward-sloping engine started something of a trend in the design of big singles for several years. This is a twin-port model (though the other exhaust pipe and silencer are hardly visible) - also a popular design feature in late vintage and pre-war machines. Like most of these, the Sloper did not have twin exhaust valves, and the twin-port design was largely cosmetic.
Not to be confused with the Panther - P&M, makers of this range, used a sloping engine on many models, sometimes replacing the frame's front down-tube, almost throughout their existence, right up to the Sixties. Most other sloping-engine designs, including this BSA, retained a conventional frame, the angle of the cylinder being intended to reduce the overall height, as well as looking more sporting.

1937 Brough Superior SS100
To most enthusiasts, this 1000cc JAP-engined V-twin is the ultimate pre-war machine. Hand-built to the customer's specification, with the emphasis on quality, it was billed as "The Rolls-Royce of motorcycles", and Rolls-Royce didn't object!
Stunningly good-looking, very desirable, very expensive. Lawrence of Arabia owned several Broughs (six I think), and had another on order at the time he died in an accident on one.

1933 BSA B33-1 250cc
One of mine. If you thought a B33 was a post-war 500cc single - well, it was. But BSA's model numbering system was different in the early thirties. 'B' meant 250cc, 33 was the year of manufacture, and the -1 meant the "cooking" model, a humble side-valve. There was also an ohv -2 and a sports -3. This angle shows how slim bikes used to be before transverse multi-cylinder engines became the norm. (Actually, I chose this shot because it was the only one without lots of background clutter. Sometime, I'll have to haul this out and re-photograph it from the side).

Rudge Special 1930
1930's Rudge. I'm not an expert, but I believe this is a Special. If the tank is original then it's likely to be early thirties - you can just see the marks where the original hand gearchange has been removed on conversion to foot change. The "Brooklands Can" style silencers are also typical of the late twenties and early thirties. Despite its gleaming condition, it was ridden some distance to this show, not trailered.
UPDATE: I'm fairly sure this is the bike mentioned in the Autumn 98 issue of 'The Radial', the journal of the Rudge Enthusiast's Club. If so, it's a 1930 Special, and was once owned by Mike Hailwood. I believe it has now been converted back to hand-change. I bump into it and its owner occasionally - I'll try to get a more recent photo.

Me and my Sloper
This is me on my Sloper, at the start of the Banbury Run, June 1999. It's a much better picture than the one from 1997, so I've consigned the old one to the electronic dustbin. The bike finished the run with no problems.

1922 Martinsyde 678cc
A local bike, from my point of view, manufactured by the aircraft company Martin and Handasyde, in Woking, Surrey. When the company folded in 1923 the name was briefly taken over by BAT.

1916 Crescent

Another one from the prolific camera of John Walter: a rare 1916 Crescent, 269cc.

1923 P & M 4¼hp
This follows the usual P&M design, having the engine forming part of the frame - compare this wth the 1911 model on the Veterans page.

1926 Norton Model 25 A genuine mid-twenties racer, photographed at the VMCC Brooklands Relived event, Sept 98.

1927 Scott
A 1927 Scott makes it to the top of Test Hill at Brooklands. The hill is steeper than it looks here, see the 'Test Hill' photo.

1931 AJS R10
A genuine Brooklands machine, photographed at the Brooklands Relived event, Sept 98. This 495cc TT racer was ridden by George Rowley in the 1931 TT, the 1932 Brooklands Grand Prix, and the 1932 ISDT.

Norton on the banking

A lousy picture of the bike, but this photo of a Twenties Norton shows most of what's left of the original Brooklands track. At this point the bike is about to pass under Members' Bridge.

Brooklands Test Hill
Not really a photo of a bike, though that little object at the top is me on my 1929 BSA Sloper. You'll have to take my word for that. It shows the upper (steeper) half of the Test Hill at Brooklands, and I wasn't sure where else to put it.

A Thirties Matchless V-Twin
I don't know the exact year of this gorgeous Matchless V-twin, but I'd imagine it must be early to mid thirties. Photographed at the Fleet Run, May 98.

1926 Rudge 350cc, 4-valve 4-speed
I have a 1925 version of this (see 1925 Rudge photo), which should be back on the road this year (2000) when I've treated it to a rebore and a new piston. The RW1926 registration shows that this is from a Rudge-Whitworth catalogue or advertisement.

Quadrant, 1922 I believe
Pictured at the Berkshire Section VMCC's Owen Tyler Run, May 1999

1923 BSA 6HP V-Twin
Seen at the Banbury Run 1999

1925 350cc Rudge, four-valve four-speed
This is one of mine. Looks good, eh? Ha - since getting it back from the restorer I've spent all my spare time for two weeks making it fit to ride. Never, NEVER go to a restorer who hasn't been personally recommended by someone you trust.

1929 AJS Model M1
Pictured at the 1999 Banbury Run, and looking none the worse after a 72 mile ride.

1930 Ivory Calthorpe
A well-known bike in my area, well-used despite its immaculate appearance. An OHV twin-port single, which looks like a 500 but I believe is 348cc.

1926 Douglas
I don't know the model, but what a beauty!

Two Zeniths
In the foreground a 1925 V-twin, behind it is a 1912 Gradua - note the "coffee-grinder" gear lever towards the back of the fuel tank.

1928 AJS, a 500 I believe.

1925 Grindlay Peerless V-Twin

1926 Norton, a Model 18 I think.

1927 Sunbeam Model 90 TT, 500cc twin-port