Annual Sunbeam Rally 2013

A beautiful weekend for the annual Marston Sunbeam club rally this year with some iconic models on display before the Saturday morning run out.

With the damper at the top, the druid forks fitted to this beautifully restored bike would date it around 1930. The twin port head suggests Model 90 but the valanced mudguards point towards Model 9.

This immaculate restoration won John Phizacklea an award at Stafford this spring. The bike is John’s take on the perfect Sunbeam green-laner. You can see more of John’s works including the amazing 95R on his website :

Ready for the off, a magnificent site with the sun beaming down.

This rare 350cc Model 10 made an appearance having been ridden down by the owner from Runcorn. It seems the Model 10 shares few parts with other Sunbeams but its smaller dimensions create a stylish, sporting lightweight.



The great British weather yet again conspired against us on the annual gathering of Sunbeams organised by Archie Beggs at the Cuckooland museum near Tabley in Cheshire.

After tea and biscuits our expert hosts Roman and Maz showed us a selection of their many hundreds of cuckoo clocks that all originated from the same 25 square mile region of the Black Forest. The two brothers have amassed and restored a staggering collection of these beautiful clocks including my own personal favourite that would have originally had pride of place in a castle.

Back outside with the rain easing off it was left to redoubtable Richard Jones to unload and fire up his Sunbeam Model 9 cum 90.

The bike started, ran and ticked over extremely well despite its sporty and needless TT carburettor. Lots of “patina” and period accessories including a remarkable rear-wheel driven speedo drive mechanism made this a bike to linger over.

The bike must have been local originally judging by the Liverpool, Bold Street address of the dealer on the front mudguard.

Isle of Man TT

Over the course of the sunniest race week in recent history, the 2013 Isle Of Man TT races culminated in a titanic battle between the legend that is John McGuiness and young pretender Michael Dunlop. If you have never watched a superbike on full-noise tearing trough the kink at the end of Cronk-y-Voddy or flat-out past the pub at Sulby you are denying yourself one of the world’s greatest motorcycling experiences. You’ll get goose bumps and the hairs go up on the back of the neck every time one of the 180mph projectiles hammers past a few feet from your pint and a few inches from disaster.

The TT attracts all manner of bikes and enthusiasts from around the globe and I managed to pick out a few examples of older machinery from amongst the legion of R1s and GSXR1000s.

This 1932 Rudge Ulster was spotted at the Ramsey Sprint where its owner had completed 7 or so runs up the 1/8 mile curved strip. 1932 is the only year Rudge made the Ulster with fully radial head and associated complex valve gear which makes it a very rare bike indeed.

The bike has been modified with a foot change and, more importantly, runs methanol through a later concentric carburettor. I’ve looked for the results online and will edit the post once I locate them but, if memory serves, this amazing bike clocked over 70mph on the 1/8 mile strip.

The bike show at Laxey is always worth a visit and the first bike I came across was this Scott. I’m not sure of the model or year but it certainly caught the eye with the chrome tank glinting in the sunshine.

Along the prom a bit further was this fabulous Norton CS1

The first of the “cammy” Nortons was released in 1927 and, with the CS standing for camshaft, this bike would have been the Fireblade of its day and many were raced with great success both at the TT and internationally. The CS was produced until 1929 and was the foundation for the International and Manx models that would follow.

After a sedate lap I parked up on the pit lane to watch three guys roll up on three near identical Norton 500T trials irons. I had seen them once or twice over the course of the week and they had spent the week embarrassing the riders of more modern machinery exploring the myriad of paths and trails that cover the Island. It must be a fantastic way to explore the place and get to vantage points that defeat the rest of us. Here is a shot of two of the bikes apparently following a well-needed jet wash.

This was my first TT for a few years as I have been visiting the Manx GP of late where the weather changes fast and can often challenge even the hardiest sheep. But this week showed that when the sun does finally shine, the Isle of Man is not only one of the most exciting places you could visit but also one of the most beautiful.

Stafford Spring Show

Along with many others, a fascinating day was spent at this year’s Stafford Show. A biting cold wind and hail storms on the Saturday made scouring the auto jumble a hard-core experience. Richard Jones had an interesting Royal Enfield project on sale that caught my eye.

The Bonham’s auction had collection of treasures for the well-heeled but one of the nicest had to be this Indian board racer.

But as my childhood hero, I would dearly have loved to bid on one of Barry Sheene’s helmets.

However, for me the most poignant moment was seeing Mike Farrell’s 1934 Rudge “Syndicate” bike that has been repatriated from a glass case in an Australian museum. I had been trying to “acquire” this very bike myself for many years and am of course hugely envious of this very special motorcycle. Mike’s efforts have been well rewarded as he has since discovered the bike has a fascinating history and was raced by the great Tyrell Smith himself.

No visit to Stafford would be complete without a visit to the Sunbeam club stand and it was another chance to see one of my favourite bikes, the Dodson 1928 TT winning Model 90. A real piece of motorcycling history that goes as well as it looks.