But before we go on, what is a special?
I guess I’ll define it as a motorcycle made up of components that were not constructed together when the motorcycle was first built, in my case, in the Velocette factory. In Australia we could term this “ a bastard”…….
The first was a Velocette racer…unsure of the exact date I got it from a previous owner, Dave Potts, who at the time was working for the Jaguar car distributorship, Bryson Motors , in their workshop.
I would have acquired it likely in the late 1970s and recall Dave telling me it won the 350 class of the NSW Hill Climb championships at Foley’s Hill, near Ingleside and that he also rode it at Mt. Druitt circuit, west of Sydney.
Bill Purnell was believed to have had the frame made for him, possibly in 1954. It was sold on to Leo Schemello who raced it at Mt. Druitt and Bathurst , NSW. He was reputed to “…have either won or was highly placed in the Clubmans events at Bathurst…”.
This came about by Sid Willis, the well known Australian 250cc racer, famous for his racing Velocettes, usually ex-works stuff.
Sid went overseas in 1953 with Tony McAlpine to ride in the IOM TT and various Continental races meeting. He took a rigid framed 250cc DOHC Velo racer, with a cylinder head and cam box from the 1936 factory Velocette racing effort.
Sid did about 5 practice laps in all and in the race finished 5th, the first privateer behind factory runners.
Towards the end of the European tour he and Tony entered for a hill climb in Freiberg, Germany. Sid crashed heavily and bent the frame. On his return to Sydney, he visited “Nugge”, who built a jig off the frame, then ( to Sid’s dismay) cut up the frame to see the tube thicknesses and construction. The first frame off the jig went to Sid and still exists in NSW today. “Nugge” never numbered the frames, so the exact number made and where mine was in the sequence remain a mystery.
It was a light little racer…I weighed it, with an alloy rims front and back it was 265lbs. The engine was 11.5:1 comp. ratio on Methanol and quite successful in the latter day historic racing. MACs on “fuel” really “jump” out of corners and are hard to beat on twisty shorter circuits. On longer circuits OHC/DOHC engined racers tend to run them down.
It still races in the hands of it’s current owner, Sydneysider Colin Pitcher.
The other special pictured is a bike I still own and resides in the Los Angeles area of California. Built in about 1975 by a Canadian, the late Harry Muckalt in the Vancouver, B.C area, it passed into my hands in the late 1990s and has been used by me on numerous North American Velo OC Nat. Rallies and rides. In fact I rode it at the 2008 US VOC Spring Opener in May.
Based on a 1960 Velo scrambler frame, with 1948 KSS Mk.2 engine with Amal 10TT9 carb. and "TT" ratio gearbox ( that is it had KTT mk.8 internal gear ratios), MAC petrol tank and Velo Thruxton front and rear wheels it is “ a nice bit of kit” as Sam Jowett, Canadian US VOC member is won't to say…I really enjoy riding it.