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1963 Royal Enfield Continental
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James French has a knack for uncovering interesting Enfields and bringing them back to life in spectacular style. This particular sporty single was built for just one year...

In September 2003 I did not own any Royal Enfield motorcycles. Now I have four -- a trio of 250s and the unit 350 Bullet (no, not the new model, the original unit-construction experiment).

And this is *before* restoration. Blimey... 1963 Royal Enfield Continental - Right Side

The one I acquired last (it's got to be the last!) is a 1963 Continental with the jelly mould tank, unique to that year only. The styling has Italian influences from Ducati models of the period. In mid-1962 Roger Boss put together a prototype machine and invited Wilf Green to visit Redditch to view the proposed new model. Roger was RE's Home Market Sales Manager and had obtained Doug Mountford's permission to put together the prototype. Wilf Green was a big seller (through his dealership in Sheffield) for Royal Enfields and Wilf's view was respected.

Wilf indicated to Roger it would be a success with its sporty looks, ace-style bars and such. At this time riders were fitting clip-ons from the likes of Deeprose Bros of Catford because it was fashionable and just what the young riders of the time wanted. Roger told me that when he attended publicity meetings at the Industry Association in Coventry back then, motorcycling was receiving bad press and selling sporty bikes was frowned upon and seen as not a good thing to do.

I've owned new bikes that aren't that clean... 1963 Royal Enfield Continental - Left Side

Thank goodness Enfield went ahead with the Continental as the new bikes were indeed fashionable and just what the young rider wanted. Wilf and Roger were right, as I believe around 500 were sold in its first year. Would you have bought a BSA C15, 250 AJS or a Triumph Tiger Cub when you could have Enfield's Continental?

The new model used the Super 5 engine but had the normal telescopic front fork, matched black faced chronometric instruments behind the small fly screen, 7-inch front brake with air scoop, half exposed rear shocks and that fantastic petrol tank. Colour schemes were Blaze (a darkish red colour) or Gold with hand lining on the tank.

Don't leave your tank too near the heater; it'll melt. Royal Enfield Continental engine, yesterday. Royal Enfield Continental instruments and top yoke, yesterday.
Enfields on

In 1964 the petrol tank reverted to a more conventionally styled Crusader sports type but was still heavily chromed. In 1964 the Continental was offered in ‘standard form’ - painted tank and mudguards and a de-lux version with all the chrome. The tachometer and fly screen were omitted from the standard model - a curious move which RE reversed within a year as the machine sold on its sporty looks and performance.

I bought my machine in March 2007 after the REOC machine dating officer had confirmed matching frame and engine numbers. It was complete, but was a non runner, and had been the subject of an earlier restoration in 1990 / 1991. It had not been used since then by the guy I bought it off who had acquired it at auction. What a waste - 17 years languishing in storage and not out there on the road like it is now letting everyone in its vicinity hear its clattering tappets and rorty exhaust note! (Sunglasses are advised when viewing the copious chrome plating…)

Sunglasses are advised when viewing the copious chrome plating… 1963 Royal Enfield Continental - After Restoration

It soon became clear the engine needed attention as the small end had gone and it was leaking oil like the Torrey Canyon. To the rescue came the cavalry in the form of that wiz with Crusader engines Ray Tew of Alcester (01789 400614) who did the business rebuilding the engine with new small end, big end shells and piston rings and valve guides. Good old Hitchcocks again provided excellent spares service. A Pople (01252 835353) overhauled the chronometric instruments and Paul Cowern (01536 522049) of KAS race paint organised the petrol tank’s refurbishment (dents out, re-chroming, painting and hand lining). My bank manager kindly extended my overdraft facility!

Will this Royal Enfield buying bug end now? Who knows. Never say never!

First MOT for the restored bike 1963 Royal Enfield Continental - After Restoration


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