1914 FN 7hp Type 700 Four Frame no. 70026 Engine no. '46' (stamped through)

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Lot 609
1914 FN 7hp Type 700 Four
Registration no. U 1133 Frame no. 70026 Engine no. '46' (stamped through)

Sold for £ 40,250 (US$ 54,918) inc. premium
1914 FN 7hp Type 700 Four
Registration no. U 1133
Frame no. 70026
Engine no. '46' (stamped through)
• Restored by James Tennant-Eyles in the early 1980s
• Formerly part of the Brian Verrall and Vic Norman collections
• Completed the 2010 and 2011 Pioneer Runs
• Pioneer Certificate

Like BSA, La Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre ('FN', for short) began as a munitions manufacturer, turning to the production of motorcycles in 1900. Today the Belgian company is best remembered for its sensational four-cylinder models, the first of which appeared in 1904 and was first exhibited publicly at the 1905 Paris Cycle Show. Designed by Paul Kelecom, the FN was the world's first practical four-cylinder motorcycle, its smooth, almost-vibrationless operation setting it apart from rival singles and v-twins. Advanced for its day, the 362cc air-cooled four featured 'atmospheric' inlet and mechanical (side) exhaust valves, a robust five-bearing crankshaft, individual crankcase oil wells ensuring adequate lubrication for the connecting rods, and reliable Bosch magneto ignition. Shaft final drive was another innovation. Supported on ball bearings, the driveshaft ran inside the right-hand frame member to a bevel gear on the rear axle. At first there was no clutch, the direct-drive machine being started by pedalling away until the engine fired. Two brakes (drum and rim-type) both operated on the rear wheel. The engine was enlarged (to 410cc) in 1906 and again in 1910, on this occasion to 498cc, and in 1911 the factory introduced its own two-speed transmission, similar to that already offered by Horstmann in Britain, which was contained within the drive-shaft housing.

Responding to demands from sidecarists for more power, FN introduced a 748cc, 7hp four – the Type 700 – for 1914. This new engine was a sidevalve of 'T'-head layout, with mechanically operated valves and a mechanical oil pump, which drove the three-speed gearbox via a steel, multi-plate clutch. Pedal starting was dispensed with on the Type 700, a kick-start mechanism being added at the right-hand side of the engine. The Type 700 had not been in production long before the FN works was seized by the invading German Army in the autumn of 1914. The occupying Germans used the FN factory to manufacture ammunition while continuing production of the Type 700, which had a top speed of around 45mph and was widely used by dispatch riders. The model remained in production up to 1923 when it was replaced by a new overhead-valve, chain-driven four.

This well-known four-cylinder FN 'Pioneer' has featured in a number of publications over the years including the March 1983 edition of Classic Bike magazine, in which it appeared on the front cover. Classic Bike's five-page article (copy available) recounted the machine's recently completed restoration by James Tennant-Eyles, who was pictured riding it up and down the drive of his country house. Although substantially complete and apparently in not too bad a state when received, the FN proved to be badly deteriorated on closer inspection, necessitating the remanufacture of a number of major components including the rear frame, mudguards, fuel tank, fork struts, tool boxes, brake back-plate, valve gear and more besides.
The FN's owner at the time of its restoration was a Mr Alan Bailey, of Hemel Hempstead, Herts, who kept the machine until January 1990. Subsequently owned by Gerald Twyman, Philip Buck and Roy Tubby, it was acquired from the latter by Brian Verrall in November 2006. A typed article on file written in the early 1960s by a previous owner – 'J. E. S.' – recounts the story of the FN's discovery, purchase (from one Edward Damadian) and initial restoration in the late 1950s.

The FN was purchased at Bonhams' sale of the Verrall Collection in September 2008 (Lot 275) by Vic Norman, who completed the 2010 and 2011 Pioneer Runs on the machine. In October 2011, Mr Norman offered the machine for sale at Bonhams' Stafford auction (Lot 364) where it was purchased by Robert.

Presented in very good condition, this highly capable Pioneer motorcycle is offered with a quantity of photographs; assorted expired SORNs, tax discs, and MoTs; Sunbeam MCC Pioneer Certificate, issued to A W Bailey in October 1983; (copy) old V5/V5C and current V5C documents; SORN Confirmation; and a substantial quantity of photocopied FN-related literature to include an English-language maintenance manual; 5hp model instruction manual; various magazine articles and a range brochure.
1914 FN 7hp Type 700 Four Frame no. 70026 Engine no. '46' (stamped through)
1914 FN 7hp Type 700 Four Frame no. 70026 Engine no. '46' (stamped through)
1914 FN 7hp Type 700 Four Frame no. 70026 Engine no. '46' (stamped through)
1914 FN 7hp Type 700 Four Frame no. 70026 Engine no. '46' (stamped through)
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