1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple

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Lot 274
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple

US$ 60,000 - 80,000
€ 53,000 - 71,000
Amended
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple

• Ex-works
• Rob North frame

It was the last great crusade of the British motorcycle empire, a race bike with an improvised engine in a hand-built frame that took on the world and won. In the summer of 1968, the modern multi-cylinder superbike era was ushered in by the BSA Rocket 3 and Triumph Trident, similar designs from the same parent company. In specification the three-cylinder 750cc engine in the bikes seemed a bit of a lash-up, in simple terms being a Triumph 500 twin with an extra cylinder grafted on. It was certainly upstaged in 1969 when Honda upped the superbike ante with its blockbuster CB750 four-cylinder, a clean-sheet design that added electric starting and a front disc brake to the mix. To steal back some of the fanfare, BSA/Triumph would go racing in the newly constituted Formula 750 class, which coincided nicely with rules for AMA Grand National road races, including, of course, the prestigious season-opening Daytona 200 classic.

With less than six months to get ready for Daytona 1970, the factory concentrated on race prepping motors and farmed out construction of purpose-built road racing frames to specialist fabricator Rob North. His brazed steel-tube frames were innovative, a perimeter-style design before that term was commonplace, with top rails that plunged directly from steering head to swingarm pivot. While dreaded Honda won that 1970 race, the next year was different. Over the winter, development had continued on the triples, some of the bikes now sporting altered Rob North frames with lowered steering heads that gave better handling through a lower center of gravity. These quickly became known as 'Lowboys.' When the checkered flag flew it was a dominating 1-2-3 sweep, Dick Mann's BSA the winner, Gene Romero's Triumph in second and BSA-mounted Don Emde in third.

It would turn out to be a last hurrah. Cutbacks were immediate for BSA and Triumph, both companies in dire financial trouble. In fact, BSA would cease production in 1973. Many of the all-conquering factory triples were sold off, some dismantled and parted out piecemeal. Though its individual history is clouded by the disarray surrounding the demise of BSA's race shop, this is one of the bikes, with works crankcases stamped #00005 and a genuine Rob North Lowboy frame. Other authentic kit includes magnesium hubs, Borrani rims, 'Letterbox' fairing, Quaife close-ratio gearset, heavy-duty clutch, modified breather system, special carbs and ignition, etc.

The BSA was eventually acquired by UK race team Beebee Brothers, who sponsored riders Alan Pacey and Malcolme Lucas on it. Among the team's many successes were the 1977 Silverstone Formula One race, where the bike took pole position and finished second in the race, and the 1978 Isle of Man TT, where it came home seventh. In 1981, its frontline competitive days done, the old racer was sold to the late John Wiman, who rode it in AAMRR races, mostly at Bridgehampton, New York. When Wiman retired, he hung #00005 above his fireplace 12 feet high! Good friend Rob Iannucci of Team Obsolete, who had brokered Wiman's original purchase of the bike, acquired it after his death and has since moved it on to another collector. It is sold with a historical overview by Iannucci, copies of correspondence and an image of the machine hanging in Wiman's living room.

Footnotes

  • Offered on a Bill of Sale

Saleroom notices

  • The engine was not built by the factory race shop but by the Bee-Bee team; it may contain, however, factory race parts. The P76 crankcases were built by BSA and taken from their T180 program. Offered on a Bill of Sale.
Contacts
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
1973 BSA Rob North Formula 750 Triple
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