Last off the production line c.1973 BSA 649cc Lightning Frame no. JE00100 Engine no. JE00100

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Lot 495
Last off the production line c.1973 BSA 649cc Lightning
Registration no. SVN 902K Frame no. JE00100 Engine no. JE00100

Sold for £ 3,450 (US$ 4,396) inc. premium
Last off the production line c.1973 BSA 649cc Lightning
Registration no. SVN 902K
Frame no. JE00100
Engine no. JE00100
For 1965 BSA’s original A65 Star single-carburettor touring twin was replaced by the A65 Thunderbolt, which joined the twin-carburettor Lightning, both models continuing after the range was given a major makeover for the 1971 season. In this, its final incarnation, BSA’s 650 gained a new oil-bearing frame, Ceriani-style front forks with exposed stanchions, and conical hubs. The lusty, parallel-twin performance remained unimpaired, Bike magazine recording figures of 14.09 seconds for the standing quarter mile and a top speed of around 105mph when comparing the Lightning with an almost-identically-performing Yamaha XS2 back in 1972, when - perhaps surprisingly - the BSA’s handling, ride and comfort were deemed superior to those of its Japanese opposite number.

This historic example of BSA’s swansong 650 comes with a hand-written letter (dated March 2004) from Mr Alistair Cave, who was the General Works Manager at BSA’s Small Heath factory from 1964 until its closure. In his letter Mr Cave states that this machine is the last twin-cylinder model built at Small Heath. One of BSA’s dealers had asked the Sales & Service Department if they could have the last-of-the-line machine, which was given a special ‘out of sequence’ number: ‘JE00100’. Mr Cave states that he visited the production line early in 1972 to see the engine being stamped with the number and later in the day saw the assembled bike on test.

BSA factory records show that the Lightning was sold to the Comerfords dealership in Thames Ditton in February 1973 and exported to Texas, USA. The approximately 12 months gap between production and sale may mean that BSA kept the machine, possibly for display/publicity purposes or, alternatively, that Mr Cave (now deceased) simply got the year wrong when recalling events more than 30 years in the past.

‘JE00100’ returned to this country in the late 1980s/early1990s and is known to the BSA Owners Club. The immediately preceding owner then spent 12 years bringing the machine up to ‘show’ condition, and the current vendor has spent £2,200 on upgrading and replacing/repairing parts since acquiring it in 2003. Recent work has included sealing the fuel tank and re-plating the fork stanchions, while new parts fitted include fork seals, silencers, heavy-duty drive chain, battery and tyres, the latter being replaced in 2009. Described as in generally very good condition, this historically significant BSA Lightning is offered with sundry invoices, dating certificate, current MoT/tax and Swansea V5 registration document. Electronic ignition, part rewiring, Mikuni carburettors and twin mirrors are the only notified deviations from factory specification.

Saleroom notices

  • The mileage reads 4,110 and is believed to be correct. The machine has recently received an oil service solving a leak, and fixing/replacing a fault to the electronic ignition (Boyer Branson). There is no current MOT.
Last off the production line c.1973 BSA 649cc Lightning Frame no. JE00100 Engine no. JE00100
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Buyer's Premium Rates
27.5% on the first £2,500 of the hammer price;
25% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £2,500 up to and including £300,000;
20% of the hammer price of amounts in excess of £300,000 up to and including £3,000,000;
and 13.9% of the hammer price of any amounts in excess of £3,000,000.

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