Incoming Mail….Te News December 2020.

Meet Brian, our friendly presenter bringing current affairs and happenings direct to our attention. He is the handiwork of Rod Horton, who as you can see captures the handsomeness of the typical Kiwi male biker.

Well what a year! With Level 4 now in our rear view mirrors hopefully we can keep ahead of it and look forward to some great motorcycling events in 2021. Other countries have not fared as well as New Zealand, perhaps because they didn’t believe in the viciousness of this plague and refused to commit to even the basic requirement of social distancing and face masks. And now there are newer strains appearing creating even bigger headaches for the medical world. Those from overseas who originally criticized us for our harsh approach to lockdown and isolation are now looking on wishing that they were living here. Good on us and long may our freedom be protected by our thoroughness at our borders..

During lock down both Knobster and myself were kept busy as our jobs were classed as essential services, but we did manage to do some motorcycling stuff. Knobster has been progressing with the assembly of his 1930 Harley Davidson Model D, a 45 ci 750cc V twin, my project being a later model off road single. We are not in a big rush, as we have owned our rebuilds for over 25 years, so are just taking our time. You can all stop laughing sometime soon. . . .

A recent purchase off the internet was this interesting postcard from about 1917 advertising The Fearless Staigs and their popularity in riding The Globe using only Dunlop tyres on an Indian Motocycle. Part of a vaudeville circuit that toured New Zealand for a 7 week record season in 1917 they appeared indoors in Auckland in September 1917 at Fullers Opera House. They were part of Paul Stanhopes Revue Company that provided various types of entertainment for the public. No Health and Safety there then.

As mentioned in our last Mail Bag Ron Carpenters motorcycle collection found a new owner in Auckland. The happy purchaser decided to keep about half of the 50 odd motorcycles to build up his own collection, the remainder have been offered up for sale though NZs auction site Trade Me. Motorcycles sold ranged from 1920s to 1950s, small 2 strokes to 500 single OHV beauties and a few twins. All were very reasonably priced with the auction indicating the true value. This gave people the chance to pick up a restoration project at a very reasonable price. Even I had to delve into the chest of gold bullion buried in the back yard to bid for a project on offer. My purchase – the remains of a 1929 Panther 600cc. To some an acquired taste but for me it would probably have to be the ultimate vintage single, a 600cc OHV twin port engine fitted with Panthers (P & M) own 4 speed gearbox (a lot of Panthers were fitted with the famous Sturmey Archer 3 speed gearbox. The 4 speed was on offer for another 4 Pounds.) Old Bike Mart did an article on P&M motorcycles and stated that the 600 had an accredited top speed of 85mph. So a bit of a vintage hot rod then. In my collection of miscellaneous information is a road test of the 1931 496cc Panther. Click here to see what they thought of the motorcycle in 1931.

And if anybody has an original copy of the 1929 sales catalogue we would like to add it to our library. Visit the Contacts Page to give us the surprise that yes you can help.

For the vintage world the coming out of the various levels of lock down due to the Covid 19 pandemic there has been a major impact on one of our favourite past times, swap meetings. Most from April right through to October were cancelled, including our favourite, the Canterbury Swap Meet in Christchurch. The first one to go ahead in the northern region was the Waikato Vintage Car Clubs swap meet at Cambridge in November. A welcome visit for many of us swapmeet starved punters. It was a great day out and attendance of sellers and buyers was about the same as in the past. Hopefully 2021 will see a return of the regular programme, albeit with our keeness to still carry on social distancing. Kumeu Classic Car and Hotrod Show including their swap meet, on January 16th – 17th ,will be the next one to look forward to.

Retro style modelling. In the 1930s the Popular Mechanics magazine used to run articles on the probability of what futuristic vehicles, planes, cars, boats and motorcycles would look like, as well as advances in technology. Prompted by the rapid development of the transport industry over the previous 30 years we were given an insight to the possible future of the 1980s and 2000s with personal air or space craft, boats that hoovered over the water, and streamlining that had people from that time crying out “really”! Even the motorcycle magazines of the time would feature articles on hydrostatic drives and fully enclosed space like motorcycles. Well a very clever fabricator in the USA has bought one of those ideas to life and created a very interesting motorcycle modelled around a 1930 Henderson 4 cylinder motorcycle. Have a look at   Warning – Genuine restorers and rivet counters need not look, you may want to cry.

Velocette motorcycles have a staunch world wide following and of course that also applies to owners in New Zealand. Racing successes abound due to the factory KTT models, creating a pedigree that all owners like to share in. But even the MSS, MAC and MOV models were winners in the hands of private tuners. Dave Rogers was a very successful tuner having his little 250cc MOV rocket itself around the Pukekohe race track in the 1980s and 90s. So naturally it is not surprising to find a NZ website dedicated to the racing and tuning efforts of the Velo owner. Articles include the efforts to build a fast reliable engine as well as plans on racing the motorcycle at the Manx Classic on the Isle of Man. Even though there hasn’t been any updates for a while it is still well worth visiting. There are some new articles planned so keep visiting.
Visit their website at Velocette Racing New Zealand

While geeking around on the internet I came upon some early movies of New Zealand motorcycle hill climbs. They have been converted to digital and put on line for all to enjoy. They are from the McLaren Family Archives and well worth a visit. This one is from a hill climb event held by the Hamilton Motorcycle Club in 1947. With Douglas, AJS, Royal Enfield it is very entertaining. So pour yourself a cup of English tea (the commentator is of English heritage), sit back and enjoy. Click here.

Previously we have spoken of chariot racing using old Harley Davidsons held in Palmerston North in the late 1930s. We have yet to come across any photographs of the event however this amusing video clip was forwarded by Malcom B, who is still laughing, and so are we. All one can say is that modern riders would not hold a candle to the shear determination displayed by these riders. Not sure of the venue or even of the country but I bet there was some severe bragging rights after the event. Click here for a good laugh.

Remember –

NZ Classic Racing Registers Festival of Speed is on at Pukekohe on the weekend of 6th and 7th of February at the Pukekohe Park Raceway. Usual races include classes for Vintage, and Pre War (up to 1945) motorcycles. No overseas visitors this time, isolation requirements and cost keeping people at home. More of a celebration of what New Zealand racing is all about. Might see some of you there.

The Burt Munro Challenge. Wed 10th February thru to Sunday 14th Feb this event is one that has to be attended at least once in a bikers life time (read the report from the November 2016 Munro Challenge here). Whether you are into speedway, beach racing, hill climb or track racing there is something for everyone. Check their website out here for dates and times of events. Enjoyment guarranteed.

Taupo Napier Mail Run. I have spoken to Jim, one of the organisers of this event and he has said that yes this event is still planned to go ahead (subject to any new government restrictions should we be unlucky to move off Level 1) Usually scheduled for the 2nd weekend in March it has 2 classes, Pre 1945, and Pre 1950, with all motorcycles being of rigid frame design. We will endeavour to keep you updated with news and availability of entry forms. With lack of events within the last year this should be top of the list for early next year.

As this year winds up we hope that you all have enjoyed visiting us. It has been busy with over 50 updates, mostly manuals and sales catalogues. The cupboard is getting empty so who knows what next year will bring? Perhaps less catalogues and a bit more activity in the workshop?

Take care and catch up with some of you at various meetings in 2021.