1958 Triumph Thunderbird
Frame no. 019679
Engine no. 019679
Triumphs may have been built in England but the American market was a prime driving force the brand's development, especially the bump in displacement to 650cc for the company's iconic parallel-twin, introduced in 1938 as a 500. The wide-open U.S. landscape, as well as American riders' penchant for desert racing and drag contests, demanded more power and more speed.
Announced in September of 1949, the 650 Thunderbird was Triumph's response. A spectacular launch stunt saw three Thunderbirds lap the banked Montlhéry circuit in France at over 90 mph for 500 miles, after which they each achieved a flying lap of 100 mph-plus and were then ridden back to the Meriden factory in England, underscoring that fact that reliability had not suffered for speed. From then until the introduction of the 750 triple in 1969, the 650 twin would be the hot choice in Triumph's lineup. In modified form it brought glory to the company on dragstrips, dirt-tracks and the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Finished in Aztec Red, this matching-numbers 1958 T-Bird was the subject of a five-year, frame-up restoration, including engine overhaul and gearbox rebuild. It is a two-time winner at the Larz Anderson Museum's annual European Motorcycle Day concours.