c.1930 OEC-Austin 747cc Four
Registration no. 879 CTA
Frame no. 30/179
Engine no. M68711
Best remembered for its curious 'duplex' form of steering gear and Claude Temple's record-breaking exploits on the mighty OEC-Temple-Anzani, the Osborn Engineering Company commenced motorcycle manufacture in 1914. The Gosport-based firm began by making motorcycles under contract to engine manufacturer Blackburne before marketing machines under its own name from 1920. OEC also made its own engines under the 'Atlanta' name but mainly relied on proprietary power units, mostly from Blackburne during the 1920s. As well as the patented duplex steering, introduced in 1927, the firm offered rear springing from 1929. An option at first, this looked like a 'plunger' arrangement but in fact used a pivoted fork. By the late 1930s the rear springing was standard and the duplex steering optional. Blackburne, JAP and Matchless engines were used in the early/mid-1930s, then AJS engines from early 1937 onwards. There were also some Villiers-engined lightweights.
Right from powered transport's earliest days, designers had recognised that the most effect way to boost power for a given displacement was to increase the number of cylinders, a method that had the additional benefit of making the engine more refined, though few British motorcycle manufacturers in the pre-WW2 era got beyond offering two. The notable exception was Ariel, whose Edward Turner-designed 'Square Four' remained in production well into the 1950s. George Brough built a handful of four-cylinder motorcycles in the 1930s, some of which used the Austin Seven engine, which brings us neatly to the machine offered here. Almost certainly unique, it consists of a 1930 OEC frame, complete with duplex steering, and an Austin Seven engine of similar vintage. Whether it was a factory prototype or built by a private individual is not known, but whoever was responsible obviously knew what they were doing. Originally registered 'DG 366', it is known to have belonged to renowned collectors the Light brothers and almost certainly was restored by them. There is a photograph on file of Jack Light on the machine at the start of a Banbury Run, believed taken in the 1980s. The OEC has also been displayed at the Museum of Speed in Carmarthenshire. The current vendor purchased the machine in December 2000, since when it has been on display at the Hockenheim Museum in Germany. Offered with UK Certificate of Permanent Export, this unique OEC four would make ideal mount for the 2014 Banbury Run and other Vintage events.
Prospective purchasers should be aware that should an exported motorcycle come with a V5 or V5C they will have to apply to the DVLA to have the original registration number reallocated.
- The frame number is not visible/has been overpainted.