Triumph Motorcycles

Triumph 1951 Thunderbird 650 NZ

Auction Sale Estimate: $18000 - $25000


Announced in 1949, Triumph’s 650 Thunderbird was first in the field with a 650 parallel twin. Turner had travelled the US and come back with demands from the local race fraternity for more power. A spectacular launch stunt saw three Thunderbirds lap the banked Montlhery circuit in France at over 90mph for 500 miles, after which they each achieved a flying lap of 100mph-plus and were ridden back to the Meriden factory, a quite outstanding achievement. The T6 was etched into popular culture and carried the leader of the The Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, Johnny Strabler (Marlon Brando), into Carbonville, California. With its aesthetic lineage reaching back into the art-deco period, the Thunderbird remained in production in fundamentally its original form, though with progressively updated cycle parts, until the arrival of the unit-construction 650 range in 1962. The last year that Triumph was fully owned by Triumph Engineering was 1951, BSA purchased Triumph shortly after this bike was made. This example has been converted to 12-volt (sealed gel battery) Pazon electronic ignition, duel coil. It has a Paul Goff high-output British-made dynamo armature and a high-spec electronic regulator, both are contained in the original housing. These are the original rods and crank, with white metal bearing and crank work by McCombs, Christchurch. There are 20 over pistons, new valves and springs, new camshafts and updated ramps. Paintwork is by Bazel Gowenlock, sprung hub was overhauled by Joe Hannah (Sprung Hub Enterprises). It includes original magneto and gears so it can be converted back if required. It has the correct Avon tyres. This immaculate T6 is a very fresh restoration, the bike has been started once, specs set and run through the gears. It needs to be run and the fluids changed after 200 miles. Matching numbers, dispatched to New Zealand 7 September 1951 to TKM Auckland (according to