The ex-Bill Beevers, 1955/56 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 62511 Engine no. 11M35 62511

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Lot 236
The ex-Bill Beevers, 1955/56 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 62511 Engine no. 11M35 62511

Sold for £ 64,220 (US$ 79,608) inc. premium
The ex-Bill Beevers
1955/56 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. 62511
Engine no. 11M35 62511
• Ex-1955 Olympia Motorcycle Show
• An earlier restoration in good condition
• Engine completely rebuilt and gearbox refurbished by Mick Hemmings

Nowadays best remembered for his exploits as a successful sidecar racer in the late 1950s, Sheffield-born Bill Beevers began his motorcycle racing career on solos back in the early 1930s. His first competitive outing was aboard a Velocette KTT at the Post Hill speed hill-climb in Leeds, but a more significant event was his first visit to the Isle of Man in 1930 as a spectator. There, Bill was mightily impressed by the great Walter Handley, that year's Senior winner for Rudge, and vowed to become a TT racer himself. Bill's first visit, to the Manx Grand Prix in 1933, resulted in a 'DNF' after his Norton expired on the first lap. Undeterred, he was back in 1935 for that year's TT, riding a new Norton bought from Sheffield dealer Dan Bradbury.

By the time his racing career finished, Bill Beevers would have ridden in no fewer than 43 TT races, amassing 29 replicas. As long ago as 1936 he was second in the Ulster Grand Prix, and was well known on the Continent even before the war. These were pioneering days for British riders taking part in the Continental 'circus'. In Bill's case, European forays often involved riding his bike to the railway station, putting it on the train and riding it to the circuit at the other end. On one occasion, heading for Monza in Italy, he ran out of money at the Swiss border and had no option but to ride, minus lights, silencer and number-plates, all the way to the circuit. Racing over, he then rode all the way home!

After the war, Bill ventured even farther afield, racing in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Czechslovakia as well as venues closer to home including Assen and Barcelona. By this time Bill had his own motorcycle dealership in Sheffield but racing remained his No.1 passion, so much so that in 1954 he added a sidecar outfit to the 350 and 500cc Manx Nortons already in the stable. The idea behind this was to gain extra start money, the engine from the 500 Manx being removed between races and put in the outfit! At the 1954 TT Bill gained the unusual (unique?) distinction of achieving replicas in the Junior, Sidecar and Senior events.

In 1955 he was 33rd in the Junior TT and 38th in the Senior, but retired on the 6th lap of the Sidecar race. In 1956 Bill's achievements in the Island races were 9th place in the Sidecar race, 26th in the Junior and 33rd in the Senior TT. He again rode in three TT races in 1957, finishing 32nd in the Junior and 14th in the Sidecar, but retired on the 5th lap of the Senior. In 1958 he was in the same three races, winning a bronze replica in the Junior but retiring in the other two races.

For 1959 Bill had a BMW outfit, a much more competitive proposition than the old Norton, although success at the TT eluded him once more when the BMW expired. That same year at the Belgian round of the World Championship at Spa Francorchamps Bill came closest to Grand Prix success, spinning out of second place before recovering to finish 5th. By now 55 years of age, Bill Beevers was ineligible for the TT after 1960, but his swansong year brought his best Isle of Man Sidecar result: 6th place behind winner Helmut Fath, which was backed up by 35th place in the Senior and 44th in the Junior. An Isle of Man resident in later years, Bill kept his hand in by serving as travelling marshal.

This 1956-model Manx Norton - highly unusual in retaining matching frame/engine numbers - comes with (copy) Science Museum letter confirming that it was purchased from the factory on 4th November 1955. The entry reads, 'Bradbury Beevers/Show', indicating that was one of the two ex-Olympia Motor Cycle Show display machines. Interviewed in 1988 for Classic Motorcycling Legends magazine (issue no. 9) Bill Beevers recalled that every year from 1935 onwards he bought a new 'Manx' Norton, which means that the machine offered here is the one that he finished 33rd on at the 1956 Isle of Man Senior TT.

The current vendor purchased the ex-Beevers Manx at Bonhams' Beaulieu sale in September 2006 (Lot 403) since when the engine has been completely rebuilt and the gearbox refurbished by renowned marque specialist, Mick Hemmings (in 2007). In 2009 the engine was rebuilt again by Ron Lewis and converted from hairpin to coil valve springs using parts supplied by Summerfield Racing Limited. The related bills for parts and the two rebuilds are on file, and the machine also comes with a bill of sale (1999) and two period photographs.
A rare opportunity to acquire a matching-numbers Manx Norton, owned by one of the racing stars of the 1950s and possessing Isle of Man TT history.

Footnotes

  • As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
Contacts
The ex-Bill Beevers, 1955/56 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 62511 Engine no. 11M35 62511
The ex-Bill Beevers, 1955/56 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 62511 Engine no. 11M35 62511
The ex-Bill Beevers, 1955/56 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 62511 Engine no. 11M35 62511
The ex-Bill Beevers, 1955/56 Norton 500cc Manx Racing Motorcycle Frame no. 62511 Engine no. 11M35 62511
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