Customized by Von Dutch
1961 Triumph TR5C
Frame no. H22827
Engine no. TR5C H22827
One of the indelible images of motorcycling, and film, history is the scene in 1963 classic The Great Escape when Steve McQueen attempts to launch himself over a wall of barbed wire. Ostensibly he was piloting a German WWII motorcycle albeit it was a British-built Triumph in disguise. Back home in the USA another Triumph was waiting in the wings to take part in the filming, but the call never came and the 1961 500cc TR5C offered here traveled a different course, landing in the talented hands of a legendary artist/cult hero known as Von Dutch whose signature alone has probably sold a few million T-shirts.
Back in 1954 another famous actor and "biker" film actually helped put Triumph on the map and that would be Marlon Brando playing Johnny in The Wild One during which he roared around on a Triumph Thunderbird which effectively burned the brand image into the American motorcyclist's mind.
The 1961 TR5C model as seen here was the direct result of the great Edward Turner-designed vertical twin engine first appearing in the Triumphs of 1938. While the early engines were mated to a separate transmission, by 1957 Triumph had update its design into a "unit construction" whereby the gearbox occupied the same casing as the crankshaft thus promoting a more reliable engine and one that
established Triumph as one of the world's leading bike manufacturers.
In a private museum setting for the several years, our vendor tells the story of this motorcycle's unique provenance as told by the previous owner as follows. "When the bike didn't make the cut for the McQueen movie, the original owner sent it to Von Dutch for one of his paint jobs. That was in 1966. The story goes that he wanted an American flag painted on the bike. But Von Dutch, being Von Dutch, ignored the request and did his own thing, as it were using the bike as a metal canvas for whatever was moving through his head at the time. In any case, it's a one of a kind Triumph. The bike was a time capsule when I found it. It had been sitting there in North Hollywood for 20 years waiting to be rediscovered."
- Please note that the title for this motorcycle is in transit.