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18th January 2012

2012 Newark Winter Classic Show
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Richard Jones and Tessie the Hinckley Triumph braved the January weather to attend the first classic bike event of 2012...

'Newark is a thriving market town located just of the A1 on the east side of Nottinghamshire. An historic town, Newark has many heritage attractions and things to do together with a range of hotels and bed and breakfasts for an overnight stay' says Experience Nottinghamshire. 'The New Winter CBG Classic is indoors at the well-appointed Newark County Showground'. Promises to be "the best restoration show yet. Hundreds of beautiful classic bikes to admire and hundreds of trade stalls and dealers too' I read in ReaclClassic magazine. What better destination for the first motorcycle ride in 2012? With this in mind Tessie, the Hinckley Triumph, and I set out on a dark January Saturday morning.

Tessie, caparisoned in a liberal coating of ACF50 to keep the horrors of rock salt at bay, headed up the A1, pausing only briefly for an double espresso and a Silk Cut for sustenance (me that is, not Tessie). The weather improves - it's not cold and occasional glimpses of sun are visible. The crosswind, however, is something of an issue - I was never too good at riding at a 45° angle at the best of times.

First stop is Lincoln where a new Pride and Joy is being restored for me - something to keep Tessie company in the garage at Jones Towers. Work is progressing well and I'm looking forward to riding the as yet unnamed bike later this year (Mrs Jones is already hard at work on coming up with an appropriate moniker). After a couple of hours of chatting about bikes and gazing adoringly on the restorer's collection Tessie and I set off back for the advertised delights of Newark.

Brown. And no, it hasn't got a BSA engine mounted in it... 1956 98cc New Hudson

The first motorcycle that caught my eye - and not because it was conveniently situated close to a powerful gas fired heater - was this 1956 98cc New Hudson. My well-thumbed reference work 'The Joy of Classics' (where all the illustrations are in pencil and that bearded man really should wear proper motorcycling clothing) tells me that New Hudson motorcycles first saw the light of day in 1902-1903. Motorcycles were produced until 1933 when the company swapped to production of brake components. However in 1939 - 40 a lightweight autocycle with a Villiers engine was introduced to provide economic transport during the war. The manufacturing rights were then sold to BSA in 1943 who continued to produce the machine until 1958. Why did it catch my eye? Because it was different I suppose or perhaps I'm getting just a little picky in what I photograph.

How did it all go so wrong? BMW?... 1957 Douglas Dragonfly

The Douglas display had much to delight including this 1957 Dragonfly, a horizontally opposed 350cc twin with a 4-speed gearbox and Earles forks which the present owner has enjoyed for 27 years. This must have been one of the last motorcycles manufactured by Douglas as production ended in 1957. Something of a shame to say the least - how did it all go so wrong?

A yellow bike in a black hall, yesterday... Fahron Engineering 1979 Yamaha RD400F

But now we turn to a modern day success story. Fahron Engineering - Ron Phillips - is based in Hucknall, not 25 miles away from Newark, and is renowned for building fast, reliable two-stroke race and road bikes. The engineering firm was founded in about 1969 by Ron and his father Harry and has been devoted to getting more power out of two-stroke engines ever since. One of the keys to this is to provide more ports - even I as a mechanical moron appreciate that this is nothing to do with Portuguese fortified wine - with 3 port engines having more than double the amount after Fahron have done their stuff. This rosette-festooned example is a 1979 RD400F and the owner has had success sprinting it during 2011.

What 'Twitter' used to mean... Steve Tonkin's Tempest Gold Star

Steve Tonkin's Tempest Gold Star; red, beautiful and undoubtedly very fast. Built with a Seeley frame, it's good enough to be on display at the drawing room in Jones Towers (this is the room where I draw on inspiration, otherwise known as the airing cupboard).

Was it really that dark in there?... 1958 1200 cc/100hp 'Mogvin'

Although the very thought of the next machine sets my teeth on edge paradoxically I took more photos of it than anything else, probably in the same way I may if I saw three-headed cat in the viewfinder. Who could take a simply beautiful piece of Vincent engineering and do this with it - well apparently it was a Mr Roy Ward who produced this 1958 1200 cc/100 HP 'Mogvin'. I'm sure it was done with the best of intentions - huge amounts of speed, Prescott Hill Climb, lap records at Cadwell and Lydden and VMCC Champion of Champions in 1992 - but really, Mr Ward! Anyway Mogvin was restored and successfully campaigned by Mr Rowland Mettam to achieve most of the above and, to be fair, he keeps the three wheeler in excellent condition. Maybe he would let me take some more photos of Mogvin in a less confined space and I may come to love it.

Meanwhile, a ghostly pointing figure materialises out of the gloom... 1938 New Imperial model 110

From the sublime to the patinated; a 1938 New Imperial model 110 which has been restored from basket case condition by current owner Peter Ardron and a 1936 model 23 Deluxe (well - eventually) described as 'under restoration' by owner Paul Doughty.

The exit! I can see the way out!... 1936 New Imperial model 23 Deluxe

The former is 500cc and would have been manufactured at the end of New Imperial's reign as the company was sold to Jack Sangster, owner if Ariel and Triumph, in 1938 with production ending at the onset of war the following year. The Deluxe model is 150 cc and was introduced originally in 1931 with unit construction, OHV single engine and 3 speed hand change gear box. Good luck Mr Doughty.

I'm sure it was round here somewhere. Has anyone got a light?... Trevor Bostock’s Ivory Major, which won the Best Pre-War award

Given the recent series in RealClassic magazine about the restoration of Alan Freke's Calthorpe Minor 250 I couldn't resist photographing one of this marque myself. This is a 1936 500 cc OHV Ivory Major and is only one of two known to have survived that year. It is also the only known survivor of the change from manual oil adjustment, replacing a regulator with a pressure relief valve. At £44.10s - £5 down and easy payments - there was apparently no other 500cc to compare with it in 1936. I suspect the current owner's three year restoration may have cost marginally more.

Phew. Finally... Honda CB250G5

And so to the outside where the hard men - and women - of classic motorcycling were displaying their wares; it may not have been freezing but it was far from tropical and my heart went out to these doughty traders. The Honda 250cc caught my eye because it reminds me of growing up in the 1970's. If I had the space at Jones Towers I'd buy one for that reason alone.


There are more photos of Newark, including the Mogvin which is starting to exert a fatal fascination the more I look at it, on my Flickr page in the folder imaginatively entitled Newark Classic Bike Show. Enjoy.


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