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Mike's Norton

BMW R100RS Custom, The GranDream


The GranDream, which as its name suggests is its owner’s dream come true, is a classic-style Cafe Racer for everyday use.

As with all C59R projects, the first thing that grabs your attention about this BMW R100RS custom Cafe Racer is its impeccable finish. The top quality chrome, flawless burnished aluminum, stainless steel bolts & fasteners and detailed workmanship on each and every one of its parts is what distinguish this bike.

The front-end of this BMW R100RS custom features an adapted R90S fairing, whilst keeping the original throttle controls, clutch & lights, and the handlebars have been lengthened by 5cm on each side to improve handling. The star feature of the dash is an Acewell Series 4 gauge that links two worlds: analogue for the rev counter and digital for the speedo, odometer, temperature gauge, etc. The ignition key has been mounted next to the Acewell gauge for easy handling.

All key components of the engine & gearbox have been renovated, and the external finish is in keeping with the rest of the makeover.

The electrical system on this BMW R100RS custom has been completely overhauled, eliminating unnecessary parts and adapting it to couple with the new gauge. The battery is situated under the gearshift and lightens the central part of the assembly.

With respect to the chassis, the original front fork and rear shock absorbers have been maintained, and a steering damper has been fitted on the right side.

The tail-end of this BMW R100RS features a custom designed folding and lockable seat cowl designed to store documents safely. Also a specially manufactured aluminium rear fender and short taper exhaust with handcrafted DB Killer which gives the C59R.4 a loud and elegant tone.

The tank, fairing and front fender have been painted in British Racing Green with BMW black shading and Vermeer gold outline to go with the wheels, the body of the rear shocks and the brake calipers.

Via: (motorivista.com)

Siegfried Schauzu and Horst Schneider cleaning Govenors Bridge on their way to winning the race at a record speed of 90.96mph

Joey Dunlop, Pitstop IOM Senior TT 1990



MV Agusta 750 Sidecar Racer


"This aerodynamic art piece was built in the late 70s, most probably by Guy Bon Giovanni – who was the MV Agusta importer & dealer for the Lyon region. The rig was campaigned in the 1977-78 racing season, after which it was campaigned in the Championnat De France. Here it was pitted against the likes of Suzuki, Guzzi & BMW powered machines.

Building a frame 'with great care and rigour', the builder has utilised a sleek aerodynamic design. A MV four cylinder motor, sitting low in the chassis sprouts velocity stacks from the carb setup. The entire bike is sprayed in MV Agusta colours and adorned with with Agusta emblems to ensure it's competition knows who put the speed into it. Final drive is from a specialised transmission setup, by chain to the fat rear tire.

Sitting at the front end is an Earle's springer fork arrangement topped by a tachometer, the only gauge a gentleman racer needs. The rear tyres are Cromodora type car rims, with a disc brake setup fitted to help keep those Agusta ponies under control. To allow for the rider to lean down as far as possible a mucho flat fuel tank has been fitted.

This one off racer was purchased in 1996 by the current owner, after coveting the sweet ride for a long time. Shipped to Italy to the workshop of the MV specialist Peppino Minervi, the mechanicals were restored to original. From there it was off to the paint shop of De Marchi for painting and reassembly, the finish being described by the owner as 'being costly but a superb result'. The money and hard work paid off, the bike featuring at the Coupe Moto de Legende in the Ubaldo Essi raceteam stand.

With many a competition mile behind it, and a full restoration completed this bike is ready to turn heads. Or just put it in your lounge room and admire it. All the best period competition parts make this one hell of a ride, and you can even take a mate along for the ride."

The White Triplex


The White Triplex (also known as Triplex Special  and Spirit of Elkdom) was a land speed record car built for J. H. White and driven by Ray Keech. It was powered by three 27-litre Liberty aero-engines, for a total of 36 cylinders, 81 litre displacement and a claimed 1500 bhp.

A wealthy American, J. H. White of Philadelphia (unrelated to the White Motor Company), wanted to take the land speed record from the British, then shared in a duel between Henry Segrave and Malcolm Campbell

No suitable engines were available to give a sufficient advantage over the British Napier Lion, so the simplest possible chassis was constructed and three war-surplus Liberty aero engines were squeezed into it. The vehicle was so simple it had no clutch or gearbox and only a single fixed ratio. Once started by a push start, it had to keep rolling. Driver comforts were minimal: the forward engine was sheathed in a crude attempt at streamlining, the two side-by-side behind were bare, with the driver perched between them.

The simplicity of the design also led to a farcical situation with the official scrutineers. The regulations required "means for reversing", which the White Triplex didn't have. Mechanics first jury-rigged an electric motor and roller drive onto a tyre, but this was unable to rotate against the compression of the three large engines, which could not be un-clutched. An even more Rube Goldberg-like contrivance was tried, an entire separate rear axle was fitted, held above ground until dropped by a release lever and then driven by a separate driveshaft. The device was ridiculous, and isn't believed to have been fitted during the record attempt itself, but it satisfied the scrutineers. An established motor-racing driver, Ray Keech, was engaged to drive. First trial runs were hazardous, Keech being injured by burns during both: first from a burst radiator hose, then by exhaust flames from the front engine.

On April 22, 1928, Keech set a new land speed record of 207.55 mph (334.02 km/h) at Daytona.

On his first two runs, Bible was timed at first 186 mph (299 km/h) and then 202 mph (325 km/h), both below the Triplex Special's previous best and well short of Golden Arrow's standing record. At the end of this second pass, Triplex ran off the track and into the sand dunes, causing it to roll over and finally come to a stop 200 ft (60 m) further on. Bible was thrown from the car, killing him instantly. A Pathé newsreel cinema photographer spectator, Charles Traub, was also killed. Some blame Bible's driving and excessively fast deceleration, others Triplex's lack of stability. There is controversy about both of those deaths, as it's also unclear whether the photographer was in an area expected to be safe, or if he approached the running line too closely to get more dramatic footage.This record was raised to over 230 mph by Henry Segrave in Golden Arrow on March 11, 1929. Keech was asked by J. M. White to drive again, this time at Ormond Beach, and to re-break the record in the Triplex. Keech wisely declined, considering the car to be too dangerous. White then hired their team mechanic Lee Bible, a garage owner with no experience driving at these speeds.

Raymond Poulidor Mercier Special Poulidor


This frame was made by Cycles Mercier and probably dates to late 60s or early 70s. (Help in dating appreciated.) Serial number is 37225. Tubing material is Reynolds 531. Bocama (BCM) professional lugs. Nervex fork crown. Simplex drop outs with mud guard eyelets.

The equipment consists of Campagnolo Nuovo Record parts that date between 1960 up to 1975. Brakes and brake levers are Universal 61.

Original paint with nice pin stripes and original transfers.

This bike had a conversion of the Simplex drop out hanger, probably in the mid 70s. The hanger was removed to be able to mount the Campagnolo Record rear derailleur. A common conversion at that time.

The right seat lug clamp is slightly bent as the Bocama seat lug did not use much material at this point. No dents, cracks at any point of the frame. No rust problems.

The frame is anti rust prepared from the inside.

I added NOS Universal brake gum hoods and NOS Lyontyres GT30 tubulars.

Suzuki works

Maserati 450S Costin Zagato Coupe


Up to 1956, Maserati solely focussed on small-engined sportscar racing with engine sizes ranging from 1.5 litre in the 150S to the 3 litre in 300S. These were all fine racers but they were never in contention to take the overall lead against the much more powerful Ferraris, Astons and especially Jaguars. So Maserati set out to build an engine and chassis that was capable of beating the 'big-boys'.

The Maserati designers worked simultaniously on two different engines, a new 3.5 litre six cylinder and a 4.5 litre V8. A new chassis was designed to house both engines. The first engine was the six cylinder and it was taken out in a new, stronger chassis for the 1956 Mille Miglia. The 'six' proved underpowered for the heavy chassis and the combination was even outpaced by 3 litre 300S. By the fall of 1956, the V8 was ready and it was taken out at the practice of the Swedish Grand Prix.

Throughout the fall and winter of 1956, the V8 car was further developed and the engine output was raised from the initial 365 bhp to 400 bhp. With this immense figure, the quad cam, V8 engined 450S was the most powerful front engine sportscar. It was only surpassed by the Panoz prototypes in the late 1990s. The brakes were also revised to be able to cope with the enormous speeds expected from the 450S.

The 450S made its first appearance at the 1957 Argentinian 1000 km race where it was driven by the Grand Prix drivers Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss. In the early stages of the race there was no one who could keep up with the storming 450S. The all new and complicated engine was remarkably reliable, although it failed to finish. The drivers were let down by a failing clutch, which after some clutchless gearshifts, caused the transmission to seize. At Sebring in March of that same year the 450S was in top form. This time there was no mechinical failure stopping the Modena based team from scoring their first victory. With the 450S in the hands of Fangio and Jean Behra victory was had.

At the Mille Miglia two months later victory was further away than ever. Jean Behra destroyed his 450S on the open roads before the race when, travelling at 150mph, a truck pulled out in front of him, there was no room to slow down or pass the truck. The Moss driven 450S did make it to the start but he had to retire 10 miles in the race with a broken brake pedal. Moss didn't have any luck at the Nürburgring 1000km either where he retired from first place in the 10th lap as a wheel came off.

For Le Mans Maserati brought out a low drag coupe version of the 450S for Moss to race. Ironically it proved to be slower than than the roadster  bodied 450S due to major design flaws. In the race Moss showcased his ability and desire to win and piloted the underperforming coupe to second place, but in 38th lap he was let down by a failing rear axle and had to retire.

Ferrari wanted to capitalize on the 450S' reliability problems and sent Mike Hawthorn out to win the Swedish Grand Prix with the new 315S. Yet it was the Maserati duo Moss and Behra that outpaced the Ferrari from the get-go. This time one of the cars actually made it to the finish to record the second victory for the 450S. The Moss / Schell driven 450S had to retire after a transmission failure. Behra was able to lap Hawthorn who was in second place and secured his second win of the season with the 450S. Maserati was still in contention for the World Championship.

The finale of the season, the Venuzuelan Grand Prix, would decide the championship. Luck had definitely run out and it turned out to be one of the worst weekends in Maserati's racing history. One day before the race Maserati's team manager died but the team persisted. Three cars were entered, two 450S and one 300S. Moss' 450S was destroyed after a collision with an AC Bristol. The second 450S caught fire when re-fueling, the fire was extinguished and Schell took it out again. Both Moss and Behra were burned. When Schell tried to pass Jo Bonnier's 300S on a straight of the track, the 300S blew. Bonnier couldn't control his car and careened right into Schell's 450S. Both cars were destroyed. Nothing more than three wrecks remained from Maserati's entry and all hopes for the championship were gone.

The sport's governing body changed the rules for sportscar racing for the 1958 season, leaving the 450S obsolete. When it finished, it won, and in the rest of the races it was let down more by bad-luck than anything else. Most of 450Ss went to the United States where they were raced with some success. Two were fitted with enlarged 5.7 litre engines, pumping out an incredible 526bhp. In awe of its power Carol Shelby nick-named his 450S, 'Big Hawg'.

The ones

Bazza one knee down

Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose"


The single 400,000-pound H-4 Hercules flying boat, built by the Hughes Aircraft Co., was the largest flying boat ever built with the widest wingspan. It was built after a U.S. government request in 1942 for a cargo and troop carrier that would not be susceptible to Axis submarines and not use critical wartime materials by substituting wood for metal in its construction.

Originally conceived by Henry J. Kaiser, a steelmaker and builder of Liberty ships, the aircraft was designed and constructed by Howard Hughes and his staff; hence, the original HK-1 Hercules (#NX37602) designation. Kaiser withdrew his support in 1944 because Allied aircraft needs shifted toward bombers and they no longer needed this type of aircraft.

Hughes continued to develop the aircraft under the H-4 designation. The press nicknamed it the "Spruce Goose" -- a name Hughes hated because it insulted its builders and, in fact, the plane was built almost entirely of laminated birch, not spruce.

The cargo-type flying boat was designed to carry 750 fully-equipped troops or two Sherman tanks over long distances. It has a single hull, eight radial engines, a single vertical tail, fixed wingtip floats, and full cantilever wing and tail surfaces. The entire airframe and surface structures are composed of laminated wood and all primary control surfaces, except the flaps, are fabric covered. The aircraft's hull includes a flight deck for the operating crew and a large cargo hold. A circular stairway connects the two compartments. Fuel bays, divided by watertight bulkheads, are below the cargo hold.

By 1947, the U.S. government had spent $22 million on the H-4 and Hughes had spent $18 million of his own money. Finally, on Nov. 2, 1947, Howard Hughes and a small engineering crew fired up the eight radial engines for taxi tests. Hughes lifted the giant aircraft 33 feet off the surface of Long Beach (Calif.) Harbor and flew it for one mile, for less than a minute, remaining airborne 70 feet off the water at a speed of 80 mph before landing.

The H-4 Hercules never flew again. Until he died in 1976, Hughes made sure the HK-1/H-4 was constantly maintained and kept in flight-ready condition. The "Spruce Goose" then found a home with the Aero Club of Southern California, preserved in its own circular building, next to the former ocean liner Queen Mary, at Long Beach, Calif. In 1988, The Walt Disney Co. acquired the location, and Disney's plans for the site did not include the "Spruce Goose." Facing loss of their lease, the Aero Club sold the giant plane to the Evergreen Aviation Museum in 1993, which disassembled the aircraft and moved it by barge to its current home in McMinnville, Ore.

By the mid-1990s, the former Hughes Aircraft buildings in Los Angeles, Calif., including the one where the "Spruce Goose" was built, had been converted into movie sound stages. Scenes from movies such as Titanic have been filmed on location in the 315,000-square-foot airplane hangar where Howard Hughes created the legendary flying boat and other famous Hughes aircraft. In August 2008, the hangars were put up for sale.

Graeme Crosby overtakes Sedge Deste

Rockstars' Garage: Elvis' Pink Cadillac


In early March, 1955 Elvis bought his first Pink Cadillac. It was a pink and white 1954 Cadillac and provided transportation for Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys for about three months. The car went up in smoke when a brake lining caught fire, on the road between Hope and Texarkana, Ark. on June 5, 1955.

On July 7, 1955 Elvis purchased his second Pink Cadillac, a new 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Series 60 in blue with black roof, to replace the Cadillac that was burned. He had the car repainted by a neighbor who designed a pink color for Elvis and named the color 'Elvis Rose'. This is the one that he gave to his mother, probably the most famous car in the world. Gladys Presley would always proudly point to it as 'her' car.

Gladys Presley never had a driver's license and Elvis drove the car with the members of his band for most of 1955 - 1956. They had a serious accident in Texarkana, Texas on September 2, 1955. Scotty Moore drove the pink and black Cadillac Fleetwood into an oncoming vehicle that was in the process of passing a pickup truck. Scotty recalls the Cadillac as requiring approximately $1,000 worth of repairs.

In February 1956, Elvis had the upholstery replaced as well as getting some paint work done.

This may well have been when the black roof is painted white.

Ducati 500GP 1971

The Beezerker by Speed Shop


Chris Flechtner was the owner, designer, and builder at Speed Shop Design in Seattle, WA when he built Beezerker, but has since taken his skills to Tokyo where he's designing and building bikes. He entered Beezerker in the 2010 AMD World Championship custom bike build competition, where it took fifth place in the freestyle customs category. Everything but the BSA A65 motor and the tires was designed and fabricated by Chris.

Chris is not a typical custom bike builder... besides building custom bikes and cars, he professionally restores priceless samurai swords, having apprenticed under the renowned Tatsuhiko Konno, designs boutique furniture, and has an MFA in design and metal arts from the Cranbrook Academy of Art.

A tip of the hat to the folks at the Return of the Cafe Racers blog, who served up a great post about the Beezerker a couple of years ago... I just stumbled into it today and was so struck by the Beezerker that I had to do a post about it here.

750 Norton Atlas, Gordon Skilton and Ray Larsen

Colnago Nuovo Mexico 1984


Mexico "Profil" special crimped tubes made from Columbus Record. Campagnolo Super Record parts dating around 1984 with pantographed seat post, stem, brake levers, outer chainring. Fiamme Progetto Corse rims at Campagnolo Record hubs. Bernard Hinault Edition of Selle Italia Turbo saddle. Frame size is 54.

Very good original condition. Has a touched up spot near the right gear lever (typical ring finger spot). New brake hoods, brake pads, cables ... everything running smoothly.