The ex-Michael McEvoy, John Stears
c.1927 McEvoy-JAP 8/45hp
Frame no. CY927
Engine no. 73025/SD
A regrettably short-lived marque, McEvoy produced machines from 1925 to 1929, its most famous creations being the fearsome Anzani and JAP-powered v-twin racers. Ridden by works rider George Patchett, McEvoys achieved numerous successes at Brooklands in both solo and sidecar trim, helping to establish an enviable reputation for the fledgling concern.
Old Etonian Michael McEvoy founded the eponymously named marque in the Derbyshire village of Duffield while he was still employed as an engineer at Rolls-Royces Derby factory. The first McEvoy appeared in 1924 and the firm made its Motorcycle Show debut at Olympia the following year, by which time Michael McEvoy had severed his connection with Rolls-Royce. Models exhibited were 350cc Blackburne and 500cc JAP-powered singles and a 1,000cc Anzani v-twin. In 1926 McEvoys range expanded to include a JAP-powered 8/45hp overhead-valve v-twin, a state-of-the-art super-sports model guaranteed capable of 100mph. That same year the company relocated to larger premises in Leaper Street, Derby and there were important additions to company personnel, ex-Brough man George Patchett joining as Competitions Manager and C A Archie Birkin, brother of Bentley Boy Sir Henry Tim Birkin, coming aboard to provide financial backing.
It had been McEvoys intention to produce bespoke motorcycles for wealthy and discerning customers in the manner of George Brough, but whereas Broughs pre-eminent position meant that he never had to deviate from this policy, McEvoy was soon adding models to cover almost every capacity class, even down to a 172cc Villiers-powered lightweight. Nevertheless, his ambition remained undiminished and in 1928 McEvoy exhibited an all-new four-cylinder model plus a range of overhead-cam singles at Olympia. In reality though, these were little more than mocked-up prototypes and none ever reached production. Earlier in the year Archie Birkin had lost his life practicing for the TT races, and the loss of its major investor would prove a fatal blow for McEvoys company, which ceased trading in 1929.
Lovingly restored by special effects genius John Stears, this 1927 McEvoy is powered by the legendary JAP KTOR competition engine built by the London engine manufacturer, J A Prestwich. It is an overhead-valve 50-degree v-twin of 980cc equipped with Binks dual float chamber carburetor. The machine is finished in the original McEvoy color scheme of maroon, gold and black, which reputedly were Michael McEvoys house colors at Eton where he went to school. This is one of only a handful of similar McEvoys known to exist and is of particular historical significance because it was the last of these machines to be owned by its builder, the late Michael McEvoy. Its restoration was started by Michael McEvoy and John Stears but completed by John on Michael McEvoys sudden death shortly after work on the rebuild had began. John Stears was the two-time Academy Award-winning special effects director renowned for his mechanical effects in countless major motion pictures including the James Bond films and the Star Wars movie. He was responsible for "the most famous car in the world," (book by Dave Worrall) James Bonds Aston Martin DB5 that featured prominently in Goldfinger. He also created the deadly rocket-firing BSA in Thunderball and the light sabers, R2D2 droid and Luke Skywalkers sand speeder in Star Wars. Sadly, John passed away in 1999 and this McEvoy was his last Vintage motorcycle, following a succession of British bikes he had owned, which included a 1936 Brough Superior SS100, three Ariel Square Fours and four Scotts. John also used all of his mechanical special effects expertise and model building skills to make a replica 1920s sports sidecar (on a genuine vintage chassis) for the bike.
Shortly after restoration John Stears was stopped by traffic police for riding a machine without a speedometer and lights. It took the logbook and its vintage history to prove to the police that this was not a new motorcycle, but in its original specification as built in 1927, such is the condition of this remarkable machine following its rebuild.
The McEvoy is offered with sundry supporting paperwork including old-style UK continuation logbook (issued 1947) listing Michael Ambrose McEvoy (and signed by him) as the immediately preceding owner and John Stears as owner from April 4th, 1958; engine rebuild invoice dated September 9th, 1966; expired UK MoT (roadworthiness) certificates dated 1972-73, 1989-90, 1990-91 and 1991-92, the last three recording it as with sidecar; UK Swansea V5 registration document for the registration mark TM 1298; and State of California Certificate of Title.
Pre-war v-twins, especially those of the Vintage period, are highly sought after by collectors, none more so than rare overhead-valve sports models from prestigious manufacturers such as McEvoy, this wonderful example of which is a worthy memorial to its late craftsman owner.
- Please note that the correct frame no. is LY 927.