The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877

This lot has been removed from the website, please contact customer services for more information

Lot 195
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin
Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877

US$ 50,000 - 60,000
£ 39,000 - 47,000
Amended
The ex-Bud Ekins
1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin
Frame no. T.H.6226
Engine no. 8-5T 12877
• Doyen of the Hollywood set who rode motorcycles
• Bud's own Speed Twin that he brought back from the UK

Although Edward Turner's Triumph Speed Twin caused a sensation when it appeared at the 1937 London Motorcycle Show, few of its admirers can have guessed how influential the design would prove to be. True, there had been vertical twins before; indeed, Turner's predecessor at Meriden - Val Page - had designed one a few years previously, but Triumph's newcomer established a formula that would be adopted by all of Britain's major motorcycle manufacturers in the succeeding decade. And whereas previous vertical twins had suffered from excess bulk, Turner's was lighter and narrower across the crankcase than the contemporary single-cylinder Tiger 90, whose cycle parts it shared, and from certain angles looked just like a twin-port single. This was just what the conservatively minded motorcycling public wanted, and the Speed Twin proved an enormous success for Triumph, lifting the company out of the economic doldrums and setting it on the road to future prosperity. Performance proved exemplary for a road-going 500, around 85mph being attainable.

Pre-WW2 it wasn't easy to buy a Triumph in America unless you imported one from Canada. There were a few dealers such as Jonas B. Oglaend who had set up shop in New York City in the early 1920s with a catalog from which you could order a British bike. He was followed in 1926 by friend Reggie Pink, also in New York City, who got serious. Reggie might have been the first to sell a 1938 5T but we are not talking huge numbers of new Triumphs, or any other British bike, at this time. The huge numbers came after peace was declared. Bud Ekins' bike was not any early import.

Although it was Hollywood stuntman Bud Ekins-masquerading-as Steve McQueen-masquerading-as (POW) Virgil 'Cooler King' Hilts who jumped the Triumph-masquerading-as a BMW in the movie The Great Escape, Ekins had, of course, his own successful persona... Winner of four gold medals in 1960s ISDTs, the Big Endurance, the Catalina GP and the SoCal District No. 1 plate seven times, he also starred behind the wheel in that dark green Mustang that was buddy Steve's in Bullitt. His other movies were The Blues Brothers, Electra Glide in Blue, Race with the Devils, Sorcerer and Diamonds Are Forever. Then there were his TV appearances in CHiPs. Both character actor and stuntman, he was also owner of a Triumph motorcycle dealership in Thousand Oaks, California, a place where the motorcycle glitterati wand others would gather and sometimes turn stories into history. (Bud Ekins died in October 2007.)

Ekins bought this 1938 Triumph Speed Twin in England and brought it back to his shop. He sold it in 1991 to another collector who kept it for some 17 years; it was then acquired by Olaf Hassel of Winnetka, California who in spite of his Norwegian name was a British bike expert having been raised in London. Olaf used to love to say of himself, 'Hassel by name, hassle by nature.' It was then acquired by a Mike Crone - a landscape architect and Triumph aficionado - who had been born in the San Fernando Valley and once had hung out in Ekins' shop but now of Florida. He is downsizing his collection.

In the Spring 2009 edition of Vintage Bike – the journal of the Triumph International Owners Club and British International Owners Club - there is an interview with Olaf Hassel and his Speed Twin by Paul Garson headed Bud Ekins' Final Triumph: All Original Time Warp '38 Speed Twin.

'...we learn that this bike, in such original, unmolested condition, might just be rarer than the now almost mythical Crocker...'

'This particular 1938...is a first example as distinguished by a six-stud crankcase, a one-year only appearance, as the following year utilized and 8-stud design... Rarely seen and still in place on this exceptionally stock machine is the Triumph tire pump, Lucas horn and lower chain guard. Another item of interest is the Bakelite composition steering damper, the material had only been in use for a few years by the 1930s.'

'The only part of the bike that has been refinished is the Lucas headlight which has been re-chromed and still sports the rather ornate Lucas crest insignia as well as the original and classic black-face Smith(s) Chronometric instrument gauges. Rare as dragons' teeth are the Lucas oil pressure gauge and ammeter which includes an integrated inspection light that detaches from the tank and via an electrical extension line allows a light to be shone over various parts of the bike during dark hours, all original equipment.'

The Bud Ekins Speed Twin was recently – December 2019 - subjected to some patina-safe detailing and a full service at Baxter Cycle, an expert, long-time Triumph dealer in Marne, Iowa. The bike is fully functioning and in good running, and riding, condition. It starts with one or two kicks, soon idles as intended, and runs up and down the rev range smoothly – and quietly – assuring us that Bud Ekins would have been proud.

This 'survivor' is as serious 'a piece of kit' as it is unique. An unrepeatable, perhaps, opportunity for the Triumph collector.

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

  • Please note, the title will be in transit.
Contacts
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
The ex-Bud Ekins, 1938 Triumph 500cc 5T Speed Twin Frame no. T.H.6226 Engine no. 8-5T 12877
Auction information

This auction is now finished. If you are interested in consigning in future auctions, please contact the specialist department. If you have queries about lots purchased in this auction, please contact customer services.

Buyers' Obligations

ALL BIDDERS MUST AGREE THAT THEY HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD BONHAMS' CONDITIONS OF SALE AND AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THEM, AND AGREE TO PAY THE BUYER'S PREMIUM AND ANY OTHER CHARGES MENTIONED IN THE NOTICE TO BIDDERS. THIS AFFECTS THE BIDDERS LEGAL RIGHTS.

If you have any complaints or questions about the Conditions of Sale, please contact your nearest customer services team.

Buyers' Premium and Charges

PLEASE NOTE: THE BUYER'S PREMIUM FOR THIS AUCTION IS AS FOLLOWS:

For MOTORCYCLE property (Lots 101-211) the premium is 15% on the first $100,000 of the bid price and 10% on any amount of the hammer price exceeding $100,000. Buyers are required to pay any applicable import duty, sales or use tax, as the case may be.

For MEMORABILIA property (Lots 1-16) the premium is 27.5% on the first $3,000 of the bid price, 25% on the amount above $3,000 up to and including $400,000, 20% on the amount above $400,000 up to and including $4,000,000, and 13.9% of any amount which exceeds $4,000,000.

Payment Notices

Payment for purchases may be made in or by (a) cash, (b) cashier's check or money order, or (c) personal check with approved credit drawn on a U.S. bank.

Shipping Notices

For information and estimates on domestic and international shipping as well as export licenses please contact: [email protected]