1936 Rudge 500 Special
Frame no. 63457
Engine no. S5191
Formed by the acquisition in 1894 of the Rudge Cycle Company Ltd by the Pugh Whitworth Cycle Company, Rudge-Whitworth built its first motorcycle in 1910, in Coventry, England and is best remembered for its pioneering use of four-valve cylinder heads. Rudge-Whitworth's first four-valve production motorcycle appeared in 1924, and the company persevered with the layout until manufacture ceased at the outbreak of WW II. The motorcycling public's response to this new four-valve, four-speed model was enthusiastic. In 1924 twice as many machines had been produced as in the previous year.
The full potential of Rudge's four-valves-per-cylinder design was slow to emerge, but in 1928 Graham Walker's works 500 became the first motorcycle to win a road race - the Ulster Grand Prix - at an average speed in excess of 80mph, a feat that led to the introduction of the legendary Rudge Ulster sports model. A variety of valve arrangements was tried across a range of 250, 350 and 500cc models, and by the mid-1930s had stabilized, the Special employing a parallel layout and the Ulster a parallel/semi-radial combination. It should be noted that despite its name, the Special was the touring 500, the Ulster being the sports version. A compact machine with a willing engine and powerful brakes, the 500 Special is a delight to ride easily coping with present-day traffic.
This example is clearly no longer to original specification and equally is "well ridden". A Special "Special", if you like, that little is known about. This neat machine could be enjoyed as is, or become a restoration opportunity limited only to original parts availability. Either way, the old sales slogan "Rudge it, do not trudge it" must surely apply here.