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6th August 2010


News: Mystery Motorcycles
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We know that RC readers love a challenge, and these photos are definitely challenging! Can you identify a vintage motorcycle or an engine which might once have powered a classic bike?...

Keith Bennett is hard at work, unravelling his family tree, and in the course of his investigations he has been given this photo. 'A cousin I met for the first time this month gave me a photo of himself and sister, sitting on his father's motorcycle' says Keith. The photo was taken some time in the 1940s, and the bike is believed to be a Panther.

This is as big as the photo will go without losing detail...

Well, P&M started building bikes back in 1904 and by 1922 had developed the Panther brand which graced the tank of a 555cc, 4.5hp four-speed side-valve, and an ohv 499cc three-speeder fitted with drum brakes. So it's perfectly possible that this bike is one of their 1920s models. In fact, it looks a little like the model which was used by the RAC in those days. Does anyone recognise it?

Meanwhile, a plea from Michael J York has also arrived at RCHQ. 'I am trying to identify what I believe is an old motorcycle engine that is fitted to a lawnmower… yes, a lawnmower. I believe the engine to be a JAP, dated about 1909, open valve, sidevalve 500cc. Originally I thought it was a Norton until I found JAP stamped on the camshaft. But I'm still not sure!'

Does that oil pump look familiar to anyone?...
Mystery Vintage Bikes on Now...

Cylinder head familiar?...

JAP engines, built by JA Prestwich in north London, powered absolutely everything for many decades - including motor cars, aircraft, water pumps, milking machines, hay elevators and even Brough Superiors. So if this is a JAP motor then it need not have been near a motorcycle at any time in its life. Mind you, as Odgie is proving in the magazine with his JAP-special project, it could certainly be built into one…

Anyone?...

Anyone have any ideas?

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