Bonhams : The ex-Billy Mills; 1967 ISDT, 1966 Royal Enfield 499cc Bullet Frame no. 46240 Engine no. JS 2568
The ex-Billy Mills; 1967 ISDT, 1966 Royal Enfield 499cc Bullet Frame no. 46240 Engine no. JS 2568

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Lot 313
The ex-Billy Mills; 1967 ISDT, 1966 Royal Enfield 499cc Bullet
Registration no. AFO 81D Frame no. 46240 Engine no. JS 2568

Sold for £ 5,750 (US$ 7,209) inc. premium
The ex-Billy Mills; 1967 ISDT
1966 Royal Enfield 499cc Bullet
Registration no. AFO 81D
Frame no. 46240
Engine no. JS 2568
• Built specially for Billy Mills
• Ex-works scrambles engine
• Gold Medal-winning machine (see below)
• Known ownership history
• Acquired by Bob Gardiner in 2009

This particular Bullet has an interesting history, having been ridden in the 1967 ISDT in Poland by Welsh motorcycling stalwart, William Basil 'Billy' Mills. A successful businessman in Llandrindod Wells - he owned a local mineral water company, Tiara Soft Drinks - Billy competed in a variety of off-road disciplines throughout the 1950s and 1960s. He was a member of the Rhayader Motor Cycle & Light Car Club together with his great friend Arthur Bates, another ISDT competitor, and they and ISDT Gold Medal-winner John Lewis won several Special Gold Medals in the Welsh Three Days Trial under the RMC&LCC banner.

Foreman/mechanic of the motorcycle division at Alexandra Palace Ltd, Arthur Bates prepared all of Billy's machines, including 'AFO 81D'. Before the latter's arrival Billy had been campaigning another Bullet, registered 'RAB 824', which had started its competitive life with John Lewis. Sold to Billy Wells, 'RAB 824' was ridden by him in the 1964 ISDT in East Germany. In 1966 the frame broke, and Arthur Bates contacted Royal Enfield seeking a replacement. At this time the factory was on the point of closure and Arthur was able not only to obtain a new frame but also a special 500cc scrambles engine. These components were used to build an entirely new machine, which was registered 'AFO 81D'.

Competing as a private entry, Billy rode 'AFO 81D' in the '67 ISDT and looked on course for a Gold Medal until he lost time on a special test, ending up with a Silver. However, some sources - including Billy's widow, Ruth Mills - state that he was awarded a Gold Medal, it is suggested following a successful appeal (see correspondence on file). Sadly, the 1967 ISDT would turn out to be Billy Mills' last international outing, as he was killed in a crash at a scrambles meeting at Abergavenny in July 1968.

'AFO 81D' comes with its original logbook recording William Basil Mills at first owner and listing only three subsequent owners, the last of whom, Anthony Bedwell, acquired the Bullet in December 1973. Bob Gardiner bought the machine from Tony Bedwell in February 2009. The purchase receipt is in the accompanying file, which also contains assorted correspondence, the aforementioned logbook, expired tax discs, and old/current V5C documents.

'AFO 81D' appears very original, retaining many ISDT-specific features and several scrutineering marks. The machine carries a tax disc that expired on 30th April 1968 and in all probability, has not been used on the road since then. The odometer reading is 2,991 miles, which may well be the distance travelled from new.

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.

Saleroom notices

  • Since going to press we have been advised that frame number '46240' is from a 350cc Clipper sent to Ensign Motorcycles of Southport in March 1961. It has been confirmed that engine number 'JS 2568' is from a series of works engines, directly following the two used in the 1964 factory bikes of Johnny Brittain and Peter Fletcher.
Contacts
The ex-Billy Mills; 1967 ISDT, 1966 Royal Enfield 499cc Bullet Frame no. 46240 Engine no. JS 2568
The ex-Billy Mills; 1967 ISDT, 1966 Royal Enfield 499cc Bullet Frame no. 46240 Engine no. JS 2568
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