c.1955 Triumph 650cc Thunderbird
Registration no. ESK 489
Frame no. 61763
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 Triumphs response to demands for more power emanating from American racers and British sidecarists alike. A spectacular launch stunt saw three Thunderbirds lap the banked Montlhéry circuit in France 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, a quite outstanding achievement. When displayed at the Earls Court Show in October, the new 650cc twin featured the headlamp nacelle and fuel tank with luggage grid first seen on Triumphs 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.
The model remained in production in fundamentally its original form, though with progressively updated cycle parts, until the arrival of the unitary construction 650 range in 1962. One of the most significant developments along the way was the introduction of a swinging arm frame for 1955, but prior to that time Triumph twins could be ordered with the optional sprung hub - designed by the Speed Twins creator Edward Turner - that offered a limited amount of rear suspension movement.
Acquired by the current vendor in the 1990s, this Thunderbird comes with an invoice issued in May 1998 by Classic Motorcycle Services of Winterbourne Down, Bristol for extensive restoration works, including a full engine rebuild. The machine is also offered with further invoices, Swansea V5C document and a quantity of old MoTs (most recent expired May 2005). An assortment of spares is included in the sale.