Monday, March 31, 2008

Clubman's All-British Show, 2008

The 21st annual Clubman's All-British show was held last Saturday in San Jose, with the ususal strong attendance and extensive lineup of show bikes and parts vendors. Ebay hasn't killed the sales of old rubbish from even older men's garages - and lots of interesting spares and rare machines were available, had you brought the cash to carry.

This year's theme was 'Greeves', which isn't a very sexy marque, but the lineup of thirty blue and silver machines held my interest. I've always had a soft spot for their Essex 250cc two-stroke twin, and of course an example in original paint was for sale... no, I didn't. For attractive dirt-bikes, you can't beat their cast-aluminum frame on the scramblers, with the Earles forks up front; almost makes me want to play in the dirt, but I don't have enough room in my life for another branch of the hobby...
My favorite Greeves on show was the 'fresh from the swamp' oxidizer special, with ancient caked mud attached (see pic, with a coveted roadster twin - note alloy frame) . I took a perverse pleasure in that bike amidst all the ultra-shiny show bikes on display; honest, filthy, and ridden.

Once again I answered the call for judging the show machines, and pulled the 'cafe/custom' class, which was fine if not ideal, as I had owned an example of every bike in the group, bar a Triumph 750cc triple (which has never sparked my fire). The Trident was horned into a rigid frame, with a 3-into-1 open pipe, and while the owner had spent lots of time making carbon fiber goodies (rear fender! saddle! coil holder! brake switch fairing!), the overall artistry didn't hold a patch on Max's bikes (yes, his are Harleys, but when you're chopping, does it matter?).

Best in Show, although I wasn't asked, was this 1961 Triumph TR6R 650cc, which was shiny yes (they all are), but it had the day's best tale. One owner from new; purchased in '61 when he was 19 years old, stolen two weeks later, retrieved in pieces, stored for 40 years, then reassembled carefully. A few bits were stolen (speedo, seat, pipes), but he found New Old Stock replacements, and painted the tank, fenders, and side panels. All else was original; parts, wires, paint, plating, and rubber (even tires and innertubes). The paint job was a little too good, it would have been perfection to have replicated the mediocre factory paint, but overall the bike is a stunner, with 1140 original miles. I want it.

Paul Adams brought along his re-restored 1923 Norton 16H 'Sports'; he originally restored it in the 1980's, after finding it (with a flat-tank ohc Velo KSS - which went to Eddie Arnold) in Colorado in absolutely original condition. I thought it looked great before, now it looks superhuman. Note the uncomfortable downturned handlebars - absolutely as per 1923 catalog, and predating the 'Ton-up Boys' by 35 years! Also note interesting headstock transfer, which is period as well (click to enlarge). The Norton will be at the Legends concours in May, with a little more space around it. The Clubman's show is a bit crowded, I would prefer more space for a walk-around, even if it meant fewer bikes.

Also very good was a Bonneville (literally) 'streamliner-ish' Triumph, with a crude hand-hammered fairing and tail section. Chris Quinn of Wheelworks has owned it for 22 years. Purchased from a salvage yard ("I'm queer for aluminum fairings", said Chris), salted away in his expansive pile of bikes and spares, he decided just this year to put the bits together and see if it made a motorcycle. Now he's trying to find some history - see photo of 1961 Bonneville scrutineer's sticker on the fairing. So odd, so cool, I love the little blast-furnace window... all you need to see is the black line on the salt!

There's always a good swap meet as well; I found 'his 'n hers Raliegh bicycles', and a KSS/TT top end, with that scavenge oil pump I needed. A good day!

Atticus Young had a good time on my '29 Rudge TT Rep, too!


Josh said...

Hey Vin. My bike happend to be entered in the modified/cafe class and it won for 63-70 500cc. The purple custom t100. thanks for given it high marks. I wish I wouldve met you I really dig you blog spot here. Oh and your right about Max's bikes but I'm tryin. his bikes do inspire me.

Xchoppers said...

I'm trying to get information about the 2009 show.

I have recently purchased a very nice 1969 Triumph Bonneville T120R which I'd like to enter in the show. Please email info. to: or call 209-815-2850. Thank You!, Grant