1925 Coventry-Eagle 980cc Flying-8 Sidevalve
Registration no. YL 6543 (UK)
Frame no. 36244
Engine no. KTC/Y 13585
'The Coventry Eagle Flying-8, worthily designated the "Pullman Express" by Motor Cycling, represents the highest attainable luxury, comfort and speed on two wheels.' Coventry Eagle.
Established in Victorian times as a bicycle manufacturer, Coventry-Eagle built a diverse range of motorcycles using proprietary engines (mainly those of J A Prestwich) from 1901 onwards, though machines only began to be produced in significant numbers after WWI. Six Coventry-Eagles were offered for 1923, all JAP-powered except for a Blackburne-engined 350, ranging from the diminutive S14 Ultra-Lightweight up to the formidable Flying-8. Introduced in 1923, the Flying-8 was not Coventry-Eagle's first v-twin but it was the first to establish a sporting reputation thanks to its special 980cc sidevalve engine that guaranteed a top speed of 80mph, an exceptional performance at the time. For 1926 the sidevalve version was joined by a new overhead-valve engined Flying-8, again JAP powered. Flying-8 prices ranged from £110 for the basic Model B120 sidevalve up to £165 for the fully equipped overhead-valve Model B160. Within a few years however, the onset of the Depression had forced Coventry-Eagle to change tack, the firm concentrating on bread-and-butter lightweights until it ceased motorcycle production in 1939. The last ohv Flying-8 left the factory in 1930 and the final sidevalve model the following year.
This sidevalve-engined Flying-8 was first registered in London in 1925 and for many years was owned by Vintage Motor Cycle Club stalwart, Cliff Barham of Enfield. During the latter's ownership the Flying Eight formed part of a motorcycle combination that was a regular participant in VMCC events throughout the 1970s. The accompanying history file contains photographs of Cliff Barham and the Coventry Eagle at the Banbury, Windsor and Chiltern Runs, as well as the Manx Rally. Over the years the machine has acquired a number of non-standard components including the control levers, throttle twist-grip, chaincase and muffler, while the engine currently fitted dates from 1932 (the original engine, number 'KTC/A 36616', comes with it). Professional refurbishment undertaken in 2006/2007 included the wheels, tires/tubes, brakes and magdyno, in addition to an engine overhaul.
In April 2008 the then owner, Mr A White, offered the machine for sale at Bonhams' Stafford auction where it was purchased by the current vendors. Since acquisition the Flying-8 has been maintained by the same engineer that restored the vendors' overhead-valve version and has been kept in heated museum premises as part of their important private collection in the UK, seeing only occasional use.
Presented in generally good condition, the machine is offered with the aforementioned period photographs, various press cuttings, sundry restoration invoices, (reproduction) instruction manual, assorted correspondence, Banbury Run program (1973), old-style continuation logbook (issued 1970), a quantity of expired tax discs, expired MoT (August 2008) and UK Swansea V5C registration document.
- The engine number is KTC/U 13585/VSC. There is no spare engine offered with this lot.