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26th October 2015

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Stafford Show, October 2015

What does a chap do on a cold, grey, miserable Sunday in October? Richard Jones decided to break his duck and finally visit the country's largest classic bike show...

I hadn’t been to either Stafford Show before and wanted to see if it lived up to its reputation. Tessie the Triumph was loaded up with the camera and other essentials and we set off up the A5. Nearly two hours later we arrived – it was further than I thought and realised this when I saw a sign saying ‘Nantwich 34 Miles’. Crikey – I was practically in North Wales!

I parked up and walked into the showground. It quickly became obvious I would have needed the whole day to get around so arriving at 1pm was a bit of an own goal. Nevertheless I decided to prioritise by going into the main hall and this is what greeted me.

Stafford Show, October 2015

As you can see the show certainly lives up to its reputation – lots to see and buy with loads of people in attendance. What’s more this was Sunday; apparently Saturday is even busier. One of my objectives was to photograph the Münch Mammoth that Bonhams were selling but entry was only by catalogue and £25 seemed a lot for one photograph. The machine sold for £85,500 including premium and if the new owner is reading this – or, indeed, anyone who owns one of these iconic motorcycles – then please make an old man very happy by letting me come and take some photos.

Anyway what else was available for the discerning RealClassic reader, bearing in mind the bikes were packed in and this, with the crowds, made it difficult to get decent photos?

Stafford Show, October 2015

I’d not come across the Harley-Davidson Peashooter before – it was the marque’s entry into the new world of dirt track racing which came into vogue in Australia during the 1920s and then spread to the UK and the USA, eventually to become known as speedway. Douglas and then Rudge came to dominate the sport and the Peashooter was based on the latter’s chassis which was fitted with a 350cc or, more rarely, 500cc single OHV H-D engine. The Peashooter name came from the popping sound made by the engines, many of which had twin-port heads but only a single exhaust valve. The example at Stafford is a replica based on a BSA M21 bottom end and the front cylinder of a 1340cc Harley-Davidson Shovelhead which gives an overall capacity of 583cc. It certainly looked good and is definitely different.

Stafford Show, October 2015

As you can tell from the rosette this splendid AJS won first prize in the Pre-1960s Bike class and well deserved too. It’s a 1939 Model 18 Deluxe and you can hopefully see that it has a rare bronze cylinder head on top of its 497cc OHV single engine. The Model 18 joined the AJS range in the 1930s and was based on the Matchless power plant which had dry sump lubrication, vertical cylinder and a dynamo behind the crankcase; this was allied to a Burman 4-speed gearbox. The model survived WW2 and was in fact still around in name, if not the same form, in 1962 when it was called the Statesman.

Stafford Show, October 2015

Here’s another prize winner, this time the champ in the 1960s class and well deserved for this sparkling Suzuki T20 which dates from 1967. The twin-cylinder two-stroke was first introduced in 1965 and its 247cc engine was said to produce 29bhp and be good for 90mph which was something back in the day. The bike also featured a six-speed gearbox, Posi-Force lubrication (how owners must have missed pre-mixing petrol and oil) and an 8 inch 2LS front brake. Is it any wonder that teenagers in the 1960s leapt on to the Japanese bandwagon and bought machines that not only demonstrated technical excellence but also looked as good as this?

Stafford Show, October 2015

Sammy Miller’s green V8 Moto Guzzi from 1957 won a prize for the ‘Machine of Most Technical Excellence’ but I prefer this one from his museum on the basis that it is a better photograph when there is no fairing, the model saw a huge amount of racing success… and it’s red. This is a 1950 Bicilindrica – what a great word – with a twin 500cc engine, 4-speed gearbox and leading link front forks. Carlo Guzzi had needed a new 500 racing machine so combined two of his highly successful 250s to produce a 500cc v-twin which was first raced at the 1933 Italian Grand Prix where Guglielmo Sandri came second. The machine was at the forefront of Guzzi’s 500cc racing effort for nearly 20 years, finishing its career in 1951; during this time it was successfully campaigned by Stanley Woods who won the 1935 Senior TT in a thrilling race with Norton’s Jimmie Guthrie, finishing with a four second lead and a new lap record of 86.53mph.

Stafford Show, October 2015

The information card for this 1973 Yamaha FS1E, Japan’s most famous answer to the 1972 legislation requiring 16 year olds to ride mopeds of less than 50cc capacity, stated that it was the earliest surviving UK example, being #34 off the production line. Hopefully you can see it has been thoroughly restored and is now, no doubt, worth an absolute fortune. Luckily I had passed my test earlier that year so was never bitten by the sports moped bug although you can see the attraction for those who were.

Stafford Show, October 2015

SRM had a stand at the show and this Norton Commando 850cc looked like it had received the full attention of the Aberystwyth firm – it looked better than new. The bike had originally been supplied to the police, bought, then sold on before being re-acquired by the first civilian owner who has since reunited the restored machine to the officer who used the Norton as his police mount. The list of work undertaken by SRM is too long to list here but you would like to think the owner is going to have many years of trouble-free enjoyment for his investment.

Stafford Show, October 2015

Those nice people on the Laverda stand kindly removed the annoying chain that was preventing an uninterrupted shot of this lovely 1957 98cc Turismo. This model of 75cc capacity was the marque’s first production motorcycle which left the factory in 1950. It was immediately and optimistically entered into the Milano-Taranto road race. It was beaten then and the following year, but an improved Sport version won in 1952 with Laverda occupying 17 of the top 20 places in the 75cc class. The 98cc machine debuted in 1954 when it won the Motogiro d’Italia and the Milano-Taranto races ridden by Primo Zanzani and Giovanni Larquier respectively. The restored example at Stafford has lived up to its race provenance – it has successfully completed the Milano-Taranto race/rally in 2010 and 2011.

Stafford Show, October 2015

Having read of the restoration of an Ariel Square Four in the RealClassic magazine I felt I had to include this 1947 example of the 1000cc gentlemen’s tourer. It’s being sold by Vintage & Veteran and comes with V5C, the old brown log book and other paperwork… but there is ‘a small area of paint bubbling on the front mudguard and a little bit of gold lining on the tank’. I suppose it always helps to have something to do.

Stafford Show, October 2015

I had to include this this 1977 Cossack Jupiter 3 350cc machine, not only because it appeared to be in such good condition but also for its number plate which is apparently original and has stayed with the bike – remarkable. The Soviet theme is also continued by its current owner who listed his name as Comrade Carl.

Stafford Show, October 2015
Eastern Bloc Bikes on Now...

And so to the outside and a couple of bikes that caught my eye on the way back to Tessie. This 1972 BSA A70 750cc looked jolly pleasant but that is not why I have included it, rather it was for the price tag: £13,500. Have I missed something or has there been a massive increase in the value of these machines from the final days of BSA?

Stafford Show, October 2015

Finally – and for no other reason than you don’t see too many of them – a Ratier which Richard Rosenthal’s book tells me were first manufactured in France in 1945 from left-over parts for German military bikes. Production was suspended until 1955 when a range of 500cc and 600cc OHV transverse twins were built alongside the rarer side-valve 750cc. BMW lookalikes? No because apparently they did differ in several respects and components were manufactured in France; they were raced but were mainly used for police work – apparently President de Gaulle favoured them for his motorcycle escorts. Now said to be sought after so I hope someone snapped this one up.

Stafford Show, October 2015

The next Stafford Show is on 23rd and 24th April 2016: www.classicbikeshows.com

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There are a many more of Richard's photos at www.flickr.com/photos/cerrig_photography/.


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