c.1929 Gillet-Herstal 500cc Sport/Competition  Frame no. 31531 Engine no. 31531

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Lot 507
c.1929 Gillet-Herstal 500cc Sport/Competition
Frame no. 31531 Engine no. 31531

£ 8,000 - 10,000
US$ 11,000 - 14,000
c.1929 Gillet-Herstal 500cc Sport/Competition
Frame no. 31531
Engine no. 31531
Alongside FN and Saroléa, Gillet was one of Belgium’s three main motorcycle manufacturers, all of which were situated in the region around the town of Herstal. The latter had become established as a thriving centre for the manufacturing of munitions, and this high-precision technology proved readily adaptable to the production of internal combustion engines towards the end of the 19th Century. FN and Saroléa had already been around for 20-or-so years before Desire Gillet and his son Leon founded S A des Ateliers Gillet in 1919, adding ‘Herstal’ to the company name to differentiate it from the French René Gillet concern. The fledgling firm soon established a reputation for original design and sound engineering, which was further enhanced when Robert Sexé rode a 346cc rotary-valve two-stroke Gillet-Herstal around the world, an achievement that led to the introduction of the famous ‘Tour du Monde’ (Wereldtour) model of the late 1920s. Gillet-Herstal’s four-stroke models likewise were of very high quality, the firm being amongst the pioneers of unitary construction of engine and gearbox, as on this example. The Belgian company also pursued a vigorous competitions programme, its machines being favoured by many of Europe’s foremost riders including the great René Milhoux, who set many speed records on his works overhead-camshaft racer. Indeed, at one time Gillet-Herstal’s advertising was able to proclaim that its machines held no fewer than 33 world records.

Gillet-Herstal’s overhead-valve unitary construction sports, supersports and competition models were at the peak of high performance motorcycle design in their day. This matching-numbers example was bought by the well-known German motorcycle racer and journalist, the late Dr Helmut Krackowitzer and rebuilt some years ago by the notable Vienna restorer Ernesto Rossi. It was then used successfully for some years alongside Dr Krackowitzer’s Sunbeam Model 90. At the end of its racing career, the Gillet was acquired by Professor Fritz Ehn and put on display in his museum in Vienna. The vendor purchased the machine at Bonhams’ sale of the Ehn Collection in July 2008 and now offers it for sale due to a change of circumstances. The machine remains as purchased: substantially complete but in need of detail finishing. Sold as viewed, it offers the opportunity of outings at events such as Les Coupes Moto Lègende and the Festival of 1000 Bikes, or could easily be converted to road trim.
c.1929 Gillet-Herstal 500cc Sport/Competition  Frame no. 31531 Engine no. 31531
c.1929 Gillet-Herstal 500cc Sport/Competition  Frame no. 31531 Engine no. 31531
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