1949/50 Velocette 348cc KTT MkVIII Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. SF 213
Engine no. 1069
With its deep petrol tank, massively finned overhead-cam engine and purposeful appearance, the MkVIII KTT is unquestionably one of the most beautiful racing motorcycles ever made. The talking point of Velocette's new racer on its introduction at the 1938 Earls Court Show was swinging-arm rear suspension, an innovation first seen on the works bikes in 1936. By now tried and tested, the Velocette rear suspension comprised a pivoting fork made from tapered tubing and complemented by a pair of Dowty Oleomatic air-sprung struts. The rest of the cycle parts remained much as those of the rigid-framed MkVII. The engine, while basically the same as its predecessor's, incorporated a number of improvements intended to enhance power and reliability, and despite the springer's increase in weight over the rigid model, its superior performance and excellent handling made the MkVIII KTT a formidable competitor. Indeed, the production version differed little from the works bikes that had dominated the 1938 Isle of Man Junior TT, Stan Woods leading home team-mate Ted Mellors to break Norton's seven-year stranglehold on the event. Woods repeated his win the following year.
Despite its pre-war origins, the MkVIII KTT proved good enough to provide Freddie Frith and Velocette with the 350cc World Championship in 1949. Frith won every round, though in most cases courtesy of a special works twin-cam engine, while in 1950 Bob Foster won three out of six to bring the 350cc World Championship back to Hall Green for the second successive year. Just 49 MkVIIIs were constructed prior to WW2 and a further 189 to the end of production in 1950. Today the MkVIII KTT is one of the most sought after of all British racing motorcycles.
Velocette KTT motorcycles take their identity from the engine and this particular MkVIII, engine number '1069', was invoiced to Veloce Ltd's Swedish agent, Ström, on 11th August 1950. It was originally fitted with frame number 'SF 270', the current frame, 'SF 213' together with engine number '1024', having previously formed part of another KTT MkVIII despatched to Veloce's agent F Eichler in Vienna, Austria on 30th February 1949.
Later owned by the Swedish TT rider, Billy Andersson, KTT '1069' was fully restored in 1998 by its then owner, Per-Olof 'Perra' Widell, the former Husqvarna works racing mechanic, who had purchased it from Velocette enthusiast, Bo Eklund. During his ownership, Bo Eklund visited England on several occasions to acquire parts for the KTT, which mostly incorporates original MkVIII components as well as some from other machines that had been scrapped. The KTT was dismantled and still had some components missing when Perra Widell bought it. Since completion, the Velo has featured in various Swedish classic motorcycling magazines, copies of which accompany it together with a quantity of KTT MkVIII-related technical literature and component drawings.
In 2004 '1069' was purchased by the current owner and brought back to the UK from Sweden. Fully checked over and found to be in excellent order, it was first raced by the vendor at the VMCC's Mallory Park meeting in 2006, being sidelined from the second race when a valve seat worked loose. The engine was then fully stripped and overhauled, and since the rebuild the KTT has been raced only twice: the first time at Castle Combe and lastly at the Goodwood Revival in 2008. The machine is registered with the VMCC's Historic Racing Section (certificate included) and is described as in race-ready condition.