Archive for March, 2014

Here’s a Beeb documentary about the “glory days” of British motorcycling that’s worth a look.

It starts out with a general overview and then meanders into the TE Lawrence era with some good vintage footage mixed in with new stuff.

(Minor complaint: The Brough they are filming in the present day is in dire need on a set of rings, you’d think they could have taken care of that at least. )

Anyway I digress; we then move on to the Isle of Man which can’t be underestimated when it comes to Brit Bike history. It was really a case of Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday! The bikes that took home the trophies at the Island not only proved they were fast, they also stood up to 7 arduous high speed laps of a heavily publicised race. Reliability was very  important in an era of bad roads, nascent metallurgy and owner ineptitude.

Norton dominated in the pre war years but in 1939 BMW was backed by the Nazi juggernaut and finished first and second to stake their flag on foreign soil.

The mighty Norton Manx did soldier on for long after their sell by date just by being very good at what it did. The big lazy single was developed to within an inch of its life and dedicated riders knew how to use every bit of its meager horsepower and predictable handling.

Mark Wilsmore related the tales of the ACE cafe, with some help from Dave Degens and Dave “crash” Croxford.

The 59 club came into being around the time of the iconic 1959 Triumph Bonneville and finally the motorcyclist got some grudging respect.

“Reverend Bill” seemed to come along at the right time and make friends with the biking community on his terms, and in the process his accepting and unthreatening attitude spread the gospel far and wide.

The final chapters of the whole scene were brought about by the increased traffic and its handmaiden , heavier law enforcement. Also not to be overlooked is the advent of the BMC Mini; for the price of a motorcycle you could get a real car and not be so exposed to the elements, and do a little snogging with your bird in relative privacy.

Anyway, if you have an hour to kill, it’s worth a look.

This seems to be evolving into a vintage car blog more than motorcycling but what the heck.

I’m a fan of these old cars and the giants who drove them, it was a special time in motor racing history not to mention the era when the world was full of hope and promise after the whole WWII unpleasantness.

The cars were making the transition from front to rear engine,  Fangio would retire soon and in 1958 three drivers were lost, so I feel this film gives a good glimpse into what was going on at the time.

Due to the footage now easily available on You Tube, it’s possible to see a time capsule of The Way It Was.  This film has good narration, the quality is quite good and has great coverage of Monaco itself which I always enjoy, being a hopeless Francophile.



OK, here’s another off the wall post but I think a lot of you out there might like this

I’ve been a Roth fan since I was a kid copying his designs onto T Shirts using Magic Markers and VonDutch was shadowy figure all on his own.

Yes it was over the top Americana that wasn’t to everyone’s taste but Hot Rods, pinstriping and all that weird looking car monster art zeroed in on my frontal lobe and I was a goner.

It represented rebellion, so if you didn’t like it then you weren’t in on the joke.  We were kids who were fascinated with speed, flashy paint jobs and chrome. When it looked right you knew it and to hell with all the old farts out there in their boring Ramblers and frumpy Ford station wagons.

We knew what was hip.

I met Ed Roth at a poorly attended car show in Boston. He had set up a big booth and some of his guys were standing around airbrushing some random shirts. I spotted him drinking a cup of coffee and couldn’t believe it was him.

I ran the usual scenario of saying to myself:  “don’t bother the guy he’s probably just waiting to get out of this crappy show and head home. ”  So against my better judgement I said: “what the hell, he can only tell me to get lost” and I can cross  another fallen hero off my list.

I was shocked when I introduced myself and he lit up like he knew me forever. We chatted about lots of random stuff and to be honest I was bowled over at his good natured charm. He told me his latest fun hobby was making valve cover racers  with his grandson and pulled some pictures out of his wallet like any proud garandpa would. Imagine showing up at the races with your grandad Ed Roth!

Sort of like showing up at the fifth grade science fair with Albert Einstein

Anyway after I figure I bored the guy enough, we shook hands I walked away thinking I’ll never forget this day. And I didn’t.

Anyway to get back to the video,  my old buddy ED (kidding) interviews VonDutch who was arguably one the best sign painters and stripers out there during the heydays of the Hot Rod. He related about how his dad was  the best gold leaf expert out there and by all accounts he was right.  Dad sounded  like a real smart guy who wanted his son to follow in his footsteps but always made sure he learned for himself but gave him guidance when he needed it. You can tell he loved and admired his father and learned a lot about life from him.

Von Dutch would be rolling in his grave if he saw all the phoney crap out there with his name plastered on it.

You’ll see in the video what a lack of a college education can do for you. It teaches you how to learn, not repeat someone else’s mistakes and misconceptions.

In this the last segment of the complete interview he opines on the finer points of cranky old motorcycles, including  Scott, BMW, Velocette and others.

This is the last part of the interview and you can find the rest on you tube which gives you some classic pointers from Von Dutch on painting and striping.

It’s pretty raw, was made in the 80’s and gives you a look into the minds of two legends.