Triumph Thunderbird,
Lot 251
1952 Triumph 650cc Thunderbird Frame no. 31181 Engine no. 6T 31181
Sold for £4,830 (US$ 8,118) inc. premium
Lot Details
1952 Triumph 650cc Thunderbird
Registration no. DCH 983
Frame no. 31181
Engine no. 6T 31181
Always a step ahead of their rivals, Triumph followed up the trend-setting Speed Twin 500 of pre-war days by being first in the field with a 650cc parallel twin. Announced in September 1949, the 650 Thunderbird was Triumph's response to demands for more power emanating from American racers and British sidecarists alike. A spectacular launch stunt saw three Thunderbirds lap the Montlhéry circuit at over 90mph for 500 miles, after which they each achieved a flying lap of 100mph-plus and were ridden back to the Meriden factory. When displayed at the Earls Court Show in October, the new twin featured the headlamp nacelle and fuel tank with luggage grid first seen the previous year. An interesting change to the Thunderbird for 1952 was the adoption of an SU carburettor in place of the original Amal, a specially prepared machine managing a staggering 155mpg at a steady 30mph on a factory organised economy run.

This example is fitted with the Edward Turner-designed 'sprung hub', which afforded a measure of rear suspension when fitted to Triumph's rigid-framed models. Purchased in July 1978 for £240 (bill of sale on file) the machine appears slightly fire-damaged but otherwise original. Offered for restoration and sold strictly as viewed, it comes with Triumph Motorcycles dating letter and old-style Swansea V5. A spare sprung hub, front mudguard, rear 'guard (part) and two upper fork shrouds are included in the sale.