1967 Phillips 249cc 'Mk1' Four-cylinder Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. RTP1967
The unique motorcycle offered here is one of the quartet of four-cylinder racers made by East Yorkshire-based engineer, Rob Phillips, during the 1960s and 1970s. Completed and first shown to the public in 1968, it is the first of two 250cc Phillips fours, the others being a 125 and a 350.
Ron Phillips began racing in 1958 and took 2nd place in that year's Tandragee 100 riding an ex-works Excelsior Manxman. He later moved on to race single-cylinder NSUs and Ducatis before deciding that the route to more power and speed was four cylinders. Inspired by hearing Jim Redman's Honda four on the radio but unable to afford one of the exotic Japanese multis, he decided to build his own. Ron made wooden patterns for the main components and then machined the aluminium alloy castings in his workshop at home. With bore/stroke dimensions of 44x41mm, the Phillips four features separate cylinders and heads, chain driven twin overhead camshafts, two valves per cylinder, Honda pistons, contact breaker ignition, and a quartet of Amal Monobloc carburettors. Primary drive is by gears to a countershaft behind the engine and thence by chain to the four-speed Villiers gearbox, which is bolted to the rear of the horizontally split crankcase. The engine/transmission unit is carried in a Norton Featherbed-style chassis of Ron's design and manufacture.
The newly completed Phillips four was featured in Motor Cycle News in February 1968 and again a short while later when it was pictured undergoing shakedown tests at Cadwell Park. Some three years later, in September 1971, the machine appeared in Motor Cycle, which reported that it was now owned by racer Mick Barry, who was reported as planning to fit a five-speed gearbox and an NSU rear brake in place of the existing Ducati unit. The history file contains press cuttings relating to the aforementioned reports plus another from MCN dated April 1992, which states that the Phillips four had been voted the 'machine of most technical interest' at the International Classic Bike Show, Stafford. Owned at that time by Eric Kirk, the machine was acquired by the current vendor circa 2006, since when it has formed part of the Hockenheim Museum Collection. It has not been run since purchase. If anyone has any additional knowledge of the Phillips four's ownership or competition history, Bonhams would like to hear from them.
- Since going to press we have been contacted by BSA Gold Star marque specialist, Len Haggis, one of the Phillips Four's previous owners. Len bought the Phillips circa 1993 from Charlie Winkworth (a motorcycle dealer in Ramsbottom, Lancashire) who had acquired it from Eric Kirk. Len then completely restored the machine, stripping the engine and cycle parts and having a new aluminium fuel tank and seat unit made. Well know classic racer Pete Krukowski rebuilt the engine. The valves and pistons are Honda Benly, while the gearbox is a four-speed Albion. Len rode the rebuilt Phillips Four at the Assen Centennial Classic event in 1998 and recalls that when on song it 'went like a rocket'. The machine has been featured in Classic Bike magazine (April 1996 edition) and Classic Racer (March/April 1996). The Engine number is: RFP1967.