18th June 2012
Bill Little hosted an spring autojumble at his Big Barn to celebrate the start of the riding season. Richard Jones met his first Terrot and a Greevesfield, among other interesting machines...
April had not been a good month for motorcycling, not because of the weather but because we were Doing Other Things - difficult to believe but true. The Other Things had not involved motorcycles in any shape or form although there was a brief interlude of steam and traction engines; if you are into this form of classic vehicle I can recommend Bressingham Steam and Gardens between Diss and Thetford. The first weekend in May was a washout - literally, due to the weather. Incidentally, am I the only one to notice the relationship between hosepipe bans and what seems to have been one of the wettest months on record since records began recording? Curious.
May 12th dawned fair and with blues skies and no rain (although the Bedford Regatta had been cancelled due to too much water - weird or what). Mr Bill Little was holding an autojumble at his Barn in North Wiltshire. I'd been to his summer Open Day a couple of years ago and had enjoyed myself greatly so Tessie-the-Triumph was dragged out of the stable block and, with camera in top box, we set out westwards.
Pausing to stop for a coffee and cigarette at one of the few remaining Little Chefs still open (Burford if you're interested in seeing this increasingly rare phenomenon) we arrived in the early afternoon. Mr Little's establishment takes some finding but it is well worth the effort - rural surroundings, a very attractive house and lots of sheds. What more could a chap want?
The first thing to greet the visitor in the post-1973 bike park was this BMW R90S; myself and another supplicant admired this icon and particularly the smoked orange paint scheme. I had thought that I could have Tessie re-done in this classic colour but common sense prevailed - this is only for BMW's and a Hinckley Triumph would look, well, pretentious.
You then walk through, for the want of a better description, a sylvan glade to the pre-1973 bike park which is idyllic as you can see. Classic bikes on a gravel drive in the heart of the English countryside on a sunny day in May. It doesn't get any better.
I can't walk past a Vincent and not photograph it and there's no point in taking photographs if you don't share them. This machine was ridden by a very stylish couple in matching leathers who really looked the part; however the magic was slightly marred when the lady pillion suggested there may be a delay in seeing the bike start as it had been playing up. This came a shock - I had always thought Vincents were perfect and started first time, no problems; I may have to re-think my purchase. Anyway it did start and, together with another almost identical machine, set off with a voluptuous Vincent V-twin volley (sorry - should have preceded that sentence with an alliteration alert).
If the Vincent is off the 'Present to Self' list then I want one of these instead - a 500cc Moto Guzzi Falcone just like the one in RC94 although this one is, unusually, black and red. The owner told me that his predecessor had preferred black to red so had it re-sprayed accordingly. Present owner isn't overly enthusiastic with the colour scheme but has a 250cc model at home which is red all over so all is not lost. I have to say I like the contrasting colours but if I have one then it will have to be all red - I mean it's Italian so it just has to be.
I occasionally have a problem identifying models of the BSA marque and this is no exception. There are just so many of them and, after a while, they all start to merge into one - why couldn't BSA paint the model numbers somewhere obvious to save me hours of searching through old black and white sketches? Surely there must be a book called BSA for Beginners and if there isn't then perhaps someone could write it, preferably with big colour photos with lots of detail. Anyway, after poring over various tomes, I believe this is a 250cc B25, a model which was manufactured from 1924 and 35,000 were made. It was referred to as the Round Tank - no surprises there then - and was seen as a no-frills machine. What really interests me is the gear change - if something that well engineered and substantial is 'no-frills' then imagine what the luxury version would look like.
Let me introduce Clattering Clara - a circa 1938 343cc Triumph Tiger 80 which Mr Little said would leave other larger and more modern bikes standing when ridden around the lanes of Wiltshire by his son, Matthew. When Edward Turner arrived at Triumph in 1936 he took the Val Page-designed singles and put them into a new frame with upswept exhausts and a tank mounted instrument panel. The result was a better looking, faster - 75 mph top speed was claimed - and cheaper motorcycle so all became well in the world of Triumph as the Tigers 70, 80 and 90 sold in large numbers. Well done Mr Turner…
It wouldn't be a proper classic bike event without a BSA RGS and, as this was course a proper event, there it was. This example simply glistened in the sun.
This Triumph 6T Thunderbird also sat there looking marvellous - you could just imagine Marlon Brando sidling up and then roaring off down the lanes looking cool and mean, although I'm not sure how nearby Cirencester would have reacted if he'd tried being the Wild One there.
Bikes and riders were now starting to leave so it was time for a wander to the Barn where Mr Little keeps his motorcycles for sale, the autojumble and all sorts of other paraphernalia. Not unlike the Llangollen Motor Museum, it's an Aladdin's Cave of all sorts of exciting stuff. I could spend hours in there.
I know it's not a very good photograph but this was an opportunity for me to add to the list of bikes I'd never heard of and never photographed; it's a 500 cc 1949 Terrot RGS. Charles Terrot started manufacturing bicycles and motorised quadricycles in Dijon in 1901 before moving on to motorcycles with Bruneau, MAG, Zédel and Dufaux engines. After WW1 the firm produced small two-strokes with their own engines and larger 250cc - 500cc machines using J A Prestwich's finest. In 1927 they acquired Magnat Debon and by the 1930s were France's leading motorcycle manufacturer producing lightweights and racing machines between 175cc and 500cc. A 350cc side valve model was also built under license in Czechoslovakia between 1933 - 35. Post WW2 they produced a 498cc OHV single until 1958 together with 175cc - 175cc singles and scooters. Between 1954 and 1961 Peugeot took over Terrot and the name disappeared (until I found it in Wiltshire!)
I had to include this - the race winning 750 cc Triumph piloted by Dave Degens and Ian Goddard in the 1970 FIM 24 Hour Endurance race at Barcelona. Note only one carburettor; in an interview with LJK Setright Mr Degens said 'It was just common sense really; no point in lots of fuel stops and high power for a hillside circuit with seven hairpins downhill and only one straight. What you want is surge coming out of corners'. So there we have it - one carburettor is more than enough if you're at Montjuic.
All good things come to an end and so did my afternoon at the Barn. A big thanks to Mr Little and his family for such an enjoyable event - the coffee and chocolate Swiss roll were just what I needed - and I hope they can do the same again next year.
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