4th April 2014
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South of England RealClassic Show
What a whopper! The classic motorcycle show season gets off to a splendid start with the best-ever old bike event at Ardingly...
In our totally haphazard yet quaintly endearing fashion, we're convinced that the Ardingly Show this March was absolutely the busiest it's ever been. The main show hall was packed to overflowing, hundreds of visiting bikes lined up outside in the spring sunshine, and some folk spent so long in the autojumble halls that they totally forgot to visit the RC stand and so missed out on a home-made cookie. Tough biscuits, boys.
Perhaps it was the warm dry weather which encouraged everyone out for the day? Or maybe the fact that it was Mother's Day had something to do with the hordes of people who needed an excuse to be elsewhere? Or maybe all those mothers demanded that they be taken to an old bike event for their annual treat?
Whatever. Definitely lots of lovely people. The most loveliest of them all included Seadog Pete who dropped off those delicious cookies (thanks Mrs Seadog!), and Mr Hall (we think) who shared his homemade honey, and a nice man named Jim who gave Frank a truly unusual set of spanners. Now look what you've done, Jim; there'll be 5000 words about those spanners in the next magazine.
Oh, and there were heaps of old bikes too. I suppose you want to know about the old bikes, don't you? That was, after all, the whole point of everything - even getting up an hour earlier because the infernal clocks sprang forthrightly forward…
So the RealClassic award was presented to 'Old Faithful' this time around. This particular 1960 BSA A10 is a regular sight in the south-east and you would be hard-pressed to miss it, given that glorious expanse of DMD fairing. The current owner, who's been looking after the Beesa for nearly three decades, reckons these fairings were 'a great idea' which probably explains why the ACU considered them far too dangerous for racing and banned them. Tucked away behind its shiny blue immensness lurks an extremely tidy 650; a worthy winner, and one we hope to feature in the magazine in the future.
Ditto and indeed likewise Bob Mitchell's Enfield V-twin which was parked opposite the RC stand and which took home one of the rather splendid prize plaques in the pre-1950 class. This 1937 KX model was the largest capacity production motorcycle of its time, at 1140cc. The Enfield's current owner took charge of it seven years ago, when he discovered it after many years of maltreatment. The Enfield was 'found as a rusty pink chopper - everything was either pink or peeling chrome. The forks had been lengthened by six inches, it had no tinware and was completely worn out.' You'd never guess to look at it now. Solid job, that man.
Trevor Drury's Enfield Interceptor is another prize-winner which will definitely make an appearance in the magazine. A 1969 Mark2 model, it's one of only 1100 or so which were built before the factory shut up shop in 1970. This particular machine was exported to Canada and came back to the UK in the 1990s. Look out for it popping up in print later this year…
Another of the worthy winners was Dave Harding's 1975 Triumph T160. This Trident 750 attracted a crowd all day long and was rewarded with the Best British prize. One of the last of the three-cylinder Triumphs, this particular T160 was an ex-demo machine which then had just one owner who covered less than 16,000 miles on it. Last taxed in 1976, the 750 sat in the back of a garage for thirty years until Dave discovered it. He rebuilt the engine but kept as much of the T160's original features as possible, including the paintwork.
In total, around two dozen motorcycles of all shapes, sizes and flavours took awards in twelve different classes - to see a list of all the prize winners, visit www.elk-promotions .co.uk
Over at the Sunbeam MCC stand, birthday celebrations were in full swing. The club is 90 years old in 2014 which means it's one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in the UK. Although it started as a marque club, the Sunbeam MCC long ago broadened its activities to embrace all pre-war motorcycles, and organises many sporting trials and other events. The club's best-known event is of course the Pioneer Run, from London to Brighton for pre-1915 motorcycles.
All pioneer machines are now at least century old so to celebrate that milestone there was also a themed display of 1914 machines at the Show. And lots of balloons. We were tempted to see if it would be possible to float one of the veteran motorcycles with enough helium-filled balloons, but a stern glance from the folks in period costume soon quashed that notion.
Outside, we discovered a neat row of classic bikes for sale including a 1959 Matchless G3L in off-road trim, for £2600, and a wee Greeves (with all its wonderful bodywork) for £2350. Most people would have wanted the Matchless, which is why Editor Westworth fell deeply and passionately in lurve with the smoky stroker…
Perhaps that explains how, in a moment of two-stroke induced semi-nepotism, Editor Westworth then awarded the Best Heavyweight prize to the Egli Vincent which belongs to Ace Tester Miles. Ace Tester Miles immediately achieved retaliation by photographing everything orange he could set his viewfinder upon, including a vertigo-inducing orange-striped Z900. And (not orange, but unusual) a Malanca. A what? Yes, exactly.
Back in the land of sanity, the Best Overseas award went to an early Suzuki GS1000N, one of the unusual wire-wheel versions. It was discovered in a garage having been stood for many years and took a lot of 'spit and polish' to bring it back to top-notch condition. At the other extreme, a 1926 Norton racer won its prize for retaining as much of its patina and history as possible. Supplied by Nortons to racer Dan O'Donovan back in the 1920s, the Model 19 is believed to have been ridden at Brooklands (seems entirely plausible), and was presented 'as found'.
That's one of the really enjoyable aspects of this particular Show - there's scope for super-shiny bikes to sit alongside original and unrestored classics, demonstrating the depth of the enthusiasm which still exists in classic motorcycling. So thanks to Mrs Elk (known in civvi street as Julie Diplock) and all her charming elklings for their efforts organising this event. Terrific show, folks; great range of old motorcycles, excellent facilities and a genuinely welcoming atmosphere. We're looking forward to the next one…
The next South of England RealClassic Bike Show is on Sunday 12th October 2014. Entry forms and full details are available from the organisers at www.elk-promo tions.co.uk
Words Rowena Hoseason
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