1903 Beeston Humber,
Lot 164
1903 Beeston Humber 2¾hp Frame no. 100023 Engine no. B371
Sold for £16,100 (US$ 26,719) inc. premium
Lot Details
1903 Beeston Humber 2¾hp
Registration no. 334 XUY
Frame no. 100023
Engine no. B371
A firm with its roots in the Victorian bicycle industry, Humber began experimenting with powered transport in the closing years of the 19th Century, introducing its first successful motorcycle - a built-under-license P&M of 2hp - in 1902. Founder Thomas Humber had set up his own blacksmith's business in Nottingham in the early 1870s and was soon making his first velocipedes, having been inspired by the French Michaux design. Humber's products soon gained a reputation for their fine quality, and the resulting increased demand led to the firm's relocation in 1878 to larger premises in neighbouring Beeston. Thomas Humber was in partnership with Fred Cooper and Thomas Marriott at that time, and the latter pair continued to market cycles using the 'Humber' name after the partnership dissolved a few years later. To differentiate his products from those of his erstwhile partners, Thomas Humber called them 'Genuine Humber' or 'Beeston Humber'. By this time there were Humber factories operating in Wolverhampton and Coventry, and the firm - already one of Britain's largest cycle makers - continued to use the term 'Beeston Humber' to signify top-of-the-range models, a policy that later on would be applied to its motorcycles. Thus the 2hp Beeston came with Humber's own twin-tube 'anti-vibration' front fork and cost £60, while the alternative Standard Special was £10 cheaper. For 1903, as well as chain-driven P&M-patented models of 1¾hp and 2¾hp, Humber also offered a smaller belt-driven Minerva-powered model of 1½hp, the Beeston version of the latter again being the more expensive of the two on offer. The Minerva-powered models did not last long but the P&M type lasted into 1905, when Humber temporarily ceased motorcycle production to concentrate on the car side of the business. When the firm returned to the marketplace in 1908 it would be with a motorcycle of its own design.

This early, Beeston-built Humber motorcycle was purchased by the current vendor in December 2000, having belonged to its previous owner since 1936. Mostly complete when acquired, '334 XUY' was fully restored over the course of the next four years, paying close attention to detail, and has been ridden on three Pioneer Runs since completion in 2005, the last occasion being in 2009. We are advised that the Humber has required no work since completion and that it is in generally excellent condition. An early, high quality model belonging to one of this country's foremost marques, the machine is offered with Sunbeam MCC Pioneer Certificate, sundry restoration invoices, MoT/tax to February 2011 and Swansea V5. A high-tension ignition coil (replacing the original trembler and mounted inside a teak box of original appearance) is the only notified deviation from factory specification.
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