1928 Coventry-Eagle 980cc Flying-8 OHV
Registration no. VJ 844 (UK)
Frame no. 40020
Engine no. KTOR/I 81147
"The Coventry Eagle motorcycle was born out of a cycle company formed by Messrs Hotchkiss, Mayo and Meek in 1890, selling 'Royal Eagle' cycles at their Hill Cross factory." Damien Kimberley, Coventry's Motorcycle Heritage.
The most famous of Coventry Eagle's motorcycles was the Flying-8, which took its name from the engine's RAC rating of 8 horsepower. With its mighty JAP v-twin engine and muscular good looks, the Flying-8 was a worthy rival for the Brough Superior and a formidable Brooklands racing machine in the hands of privateers such as Bert Le Vack. For 1926 the original sidevalve-engined Flying-8 was joined by a new overhead-valve version powered by the same 980cc JAP KTOR engine used by rivals Brough Superior in their SS100. It is said that the Brough and Coventry Eagle v-twins' resemblance was no co-incidence, the Coventry firm's Percy Mayo and George Brough having become acquainted while on active service during WWI. A new frame incorporating substantial engine plates was used for the ohv Flying-8, which featured both mechanical and hand-pumped lubrication, a Jardine three-speed gearbox, large (8" diameter) brakes and Royal Enfield wheels, the rear boasting its maker's famous cush drive. Sadly, the onset of the Depression would force Coventry-Eagle to abandon production of its more expensive models, the last ohv Flying-Eight leaving the factory in 1930 and the final sidevalve model the following year.
One of only a relative handful of overhead-valve Flying-8s known to survive worldwide, this example was purchased from one John Ellis of County Kildare by Norman Broadbridge in December 1982. Accompanying (copy) correspondence reveals that Mr Ellis was a wealthy collector of motorcycles who had moved to County Kildare from Yorkshire on his retirement, taking his collection with him. His ownership does not, therefore, appear in UK registration records. Previous owners, according to the accompanying old-style logbook (issued 1947) include VMCC Coventry-Eagle marque specialist, Ken Hodgson from whom Mr Ellis purchased the machine - and motorcycling journalist/publisher, Bruce Main-Smith.
Mr Broadbridge kept the machine, untouched, for many years before deciding to treat it to a cosmetic 'tidy up' in the early 1990s. Sadly, he passed away in 1994 before completing the work and never did get the opportunity to ride the Coventry-Eagle. Ownership then passed to Norman's son Stephen, a VMCC Founders' Day member. The machine was checked over by Merchant Navy Chief Engineer, Mike Sherwin in February 1994 and his list of work carried out and faults rectified comes with it. It was then returned to 'hibernation' and in April 2008 at Bonhams' Stafford auction was offered for sale for the first time in 25 years following Stephen Broadbridge's untimely death, at the age of 56, early in 2007. Lot 517, the machine was purchased by the current vendors and since acquisition has been mechanically rebuilt and kept in heated museum premises as part of their important private collection in the UK, seeing only occasional use.
Offered with the aforementioned old-style logbook, UK Swansea V5 registration document and a most substantial history file of correspondence and other documentation, 'VJ 844' represents a rare opportunity to acquire a fine example of one of the Vintage period's most famous and sought-after superbikes.
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