AT THE 35TH CAROLE NASH INTERNATIONAL
CLASSIC MOTORCYCLE SHOW
At the Stafford Showground ticket office, in common with many other events and entertainment venues, they were offering a senior citizens discount. How long this will last has to be a matter of conjecture as around sixty per cent of the crowd who turned up in numbers for this early season favourite show, must be in the senior age range.
The other way of looking at this is that they form the backbone of classic bike enthusiasm, and it's worth the organisers taking a couple of quid hit on the ticket price to keep 'em coming.
Over the weekend of April 25th/26th there was plenty for the crowds to browse and ogle. Exquisite machinery, projects galore, every conceivable supply for the garage or restoration job, a big autojumble, the race bike and dirt bike areas, and the ever fascinating collection of bikes brought by Bonhams to be auctioned.
The show is a mix of the familiar and the surprising, as there always seems to be new machinery on display in the area reserved for individuals; and the old, rusty and rare are still being dragged out from sheds and barns across the land and indeed the European mainland. This year there were a couple of interesting stands from Belgium and Holland.
The organisers seem to be aware that they need to ring the changes with fresh ideas for the show goers, and this year they laid on a live 'Restoration Theatre' hosted by Pete Thorne, the bloke from the ITV4 Motorbike Show. He talked about and demonstrated some of the rudiments of restoration and took questions from the already knowledgeable audience.
They also ran what was described as a 'cavalcade'. Owners riding their classic bikes around the showground arena. They looked a bit lost in the big grass field, and the session I attended didn't provide any commentary on the bikes and riders, which would have been useful. But start a bike engine and people head towards it, as is the case in the race paddock where they run a couple of sessions with different classic race bikes 'disturbing' the spring air. I was taking pictures of a radical looking sprint machine with a big single Rotax engine. The owner pressed the start button and before you knew it a crowd had gathered to soak up the crack and rasp of the open exhaust.
The Bonhams auction is always a draw. Where do these bikes keep coming from? Machines changing hands with owners 'cashing in' on the lucrative classic market? Newly restored bikes? Bikes from abroad? There was a cluster of rare old US V-twins, and a magnificent Vincent Rapide 998cc restored to concourse condition over seven years. It was parked in front of the auctioneers podium amongst other desirable stock to go under the hammer.
One explanation seen in the sale results is that some of the valuable bikes are being sold as part of a 'deceased estate'. Collectors who have died, and presumably the family or heirs are realising the often very valuable motorcycling assets.
They don't only auction complete and extremely desirable bikes, but a lot of spares collections and very old bikes in some rust and disarray. One example was a 1923 Excelsior 147cc Junior, which went for £1380. Compare this to the above mentioned Vincent that fetched £275,900. Gulp...see pictures.
Entry to the auction room for viewing and the sale is by £25 catalogue, which admits two people. This keeps the crowds down and the riff raff out. Except for me; with a camera about my neck and a Wemoto card I was allowed to wander the lines of bikes and snap away. One advantage of buying the catalogue is that the history and provenance of potential purchases is set out.
The Motorcycle Factory is the name of a Belgian company who had brought a small collection of their bikes for sale, and occupied a stand in one of the smaller halls. Amongst some of the intriguing machines displayed was a Jawa ice speedway bike that was laid on it's side so you could check out the lethal looking tyre spikes - perhaps an idea some commuting riders might want to take up.
At the back of the stand against the backdrop of a huge photograph of people and bikes assembled outside their interesting looking premises, they had placed a leviathan of a machine topped with a huge cylindrical fuel tank. It was a 'pacer' used for what were very dangerous cycle races in Velodromes across Europe. These bikes were slung together from other parts and usually had large engines capable of 100kmh with the cyclists tyre practically touching the rear frame while on track. The bike displayed had a 2,400cc engine and was believed to have been constructed in 1920.
Check out their website www.themotorcyclefactory.com
Even if you're not involved in a restoration project, looking to buy one, or acquiring an older motorcycle to play with, there are always bargains to be had in terms of garage and workshop supplies, clothing and helmets, plus a whole array of stands that grab interest and attention in an authentic and thriving part of the motorcycle business. I was so intent on locating some specialist alloy cleaner that I forgot to cruise the stands for cheaper than dealer priced general bike cleaner.
But there'll be another show along soon, and the next Stafford extravaganza will be held on October 17th/18th.
Did anyone else go to the Show? if so did you enjoy it? Email us at email@example.com
Now sit back and scroll through some of the great show photos:
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