Thursday, January 10, 2008


Sometimes you sell a bike because you have to, and that's always about money, and money is the worst reason to sell a motorcycle. But, when it was 'buy your house or get out', suddenly a lot of iron went away from my garage. This bike is one of them.

My buddy Geoff has this amazing 1930 Norton now, but at least I know where it is. The engine is actually a Model 20, which is supposed to have a twin-exhaust port cylinder head, but some canny owner in the distant past installed a very worked-over ES2 head, with valves the size of dinner plates, and a whopping 1 3/8" brass TT carb. Does it go? You bet it goes, and that lovely little Zeppelin sidecar doesn't slow it down much.

The chair is a Mills-Furford, or 'Milford', which Norton catalogued that year as an optional extra. It weighs perhaps 120lbs, as the thin aluminum skin covers a delicate skeleton of steam-bent ash. The whole outfit weighs I would estimate around 420lbs; about the same as a 60's Triumph.
Top pic shows the 'stinger' end of the Zeppelin - that's an aluminum cone, and the ribs over the skin are alloy as well. According to my literature, the panels would have been painted with a transparent blue varnish, with red pinstripes; very deco. Note the volute spiral of the chair's suspension in the bottom pic - rigid sidecars are much more comfy than later models with swingarms and shocks, as they float on these springs like a baby carriage, immune from road shocks. A rare instance where suspension is a retrograde step!
The leather saddlebags are ammunition cases of some sort, with fusilier's markings (little bombs!). Note also George Dance kneegrips; very sporty. Not visible is the Brooklands can between bike and sidecar, which is very much louder than a straight pipe, acting more like a resonator than a muffler. The bike sounds great; I used to take Zoe to elementary school in this, and you can be sure that everyone stopped to look, and every kid wanted a ride.

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