c.1904 Rex 411cc
Registration no. BS 8359
Frame no. 13773
Engine no. 1407
Rex was one of the pioneer makes which did so much to develop the industry at a time when it appeared to be in danger of becoming extinct by the apathy of manufacturers generally, around 1904. Motor Cycle, 1919.
An innovative marque from the time of its inception in 1899 as a motor manufacturer, Rex demonstrated its first motorcycle in 1900 while continuing to make automobiles and tri-cars. The Coventry-based firm was soon active in all types of motorcycle competition, including the inaugural 1907 Isle of Man TT where Billy Heatons sprung-fork Rex finished second in the twin-cylinder class. Prior to that Rex had exploited the valuable publicity that accrued from the popular long-distance events of the day, in particular the famous Lands End to John OGroats journey between the most southerly and northerly parts of mainland Britain. Brothers Billy and Harold Williamson were in charge of Rex at this time, as managing and sales directors respectively, and it was the latter who in 1904 established a new record for this 880-mile marathon, which in those days involved travel over rough, unsurfaced and often treacherous roads. Riding a 3¼hp (approximately 380cc) Rex, Williamson took 48 hours 36 minutes, which included lengthy stops to repair punctures, beating the existing mark by 2½ hours.
Rex experimented with 350cc two-stroke and shaft-driven v-twin models prior to WWI and continued manufacturing its own power units until the early 1920s, after which proprietary engines became the norm. By this time neighbours Coventry Acme had been taken over and in the next few years the ranges were rationalised, the Rex-Acme name being adopted in 1921.
In 1923 the firm signed rising star Walter Handley, a move that would set Rex-Acme on the road to racing success. Handley had won the 250cc Belgian and Ulster Grands Prix by the end of his debut season, and in 1925 became the first rider to win two TTs in one week: the 350 Junior and 175 Ultra-Lightweight. Handleys second place in the Senior was Rex-Acmes best TT result in 1926, but the marque returned to the winners rostrum the following year when Handley won the Lightweight event. With some justification the firm incorporated the Three Legs of Man into its tank badge. The 1927 win was to prove Rex-Acmes swansong TT victory, for despite all its racetrack successes, both in the Isle of Man and at Brooklands, the firm became a casualty of the Depression, and although there was a brief revival, was gone for good by 1933.
Dating from the firms Edwardian heyday, this early Rex comes with a Science Museum Certificate (confirming matching frame/engine numbers) and Sunbeam MCC Pioneer Certificate, both documents being issued in 1984 when the machine belonged to noted collector Ian Paterson, of Lauder, Berwickshire. On its Pioneer Certificate the Rex is recorded as having the registration mark T 21, though we are advised that in the event this was never transferred to it. Having spent many years within the Paterson Collection, during which time it was restored by James Tennant-Eyles, the Rex was registered with the age-related mark BS 8359 in June 2002 following its acquisition by Brian Verrall. We are advised that the engine has been run since acquisition, although the Rex has not been used on the road. Presented in superb condition, the machine is offered with the aforementioned documentation; sundry expired SORNs; old-style V5; expired MoT (2003); a quantity of photographs; some Rex related literature; current SORN and Swansea V5C registration document.
Courtesy of Bonhams and The Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club, complimentary inclusion in the 71st Pioneer Run for Veteran Motorcycles is included with this Lot. The Run takes place on the 22 March 2009.
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