The Autumn Stafford Sale – The Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show / Property of Ron Chandler; 1973 Rouen 200-mile winning, 1973 Triumph 750cc Trident 'Rob North' Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle Frame no. none Engine no. A75R KG00356
£28,000 - £34,000
Property of Ron Chandler; 1973 Rouen 200-mile winning
1973 Triumph 750cc Trident 'Rob North' Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. none
Engine no. A75R KG00356
1973 Triumph 750cc Trident 'Rob North' Formula 750 Racing Motorcycle
Frame no. none
Engine no. A75R KG00356
• Original factory BSA engine
• Also campaigned successfully by Alistair Frame for the Bee Bee brothers
• Rebuilt by Arthur Jakeman in 2003
• Paraded by Ron in the UK and on the Continent
• Good history file
The historic Triumph racing motorcycle offered here was originally commissioned by Ron Chandler and used by him to win the Formula 750 200-mile race at Rouen in 1973.
The Triumph and BSA 750 Triples had been launched in the UK in 1969, just in time to be up-staged by Honda's four-cylinder CB750. Faced with ever-increasing foreign competition the Triple failed to fulfil its makers' expectations in the showroom, but success on the racetrack did more than enough to ensure a place in motorcycling history. BSA-Triumph's Chief Engineer Doug Hele spearheaded engine development throughout 1969, while frame builder Rob North devised a chassis that would stand the test of time like few others. The team narrowly missed victory at the 1970 Daytona 200, its first major event, Gene Romero finishing 2nd on a Triumph. A revised 'lowboy' frame, twin front disc brakes and the racing Triple's characteristic 'letterbox' fairing were all new for 1971, a year which would see the Triple established as one of the most formidable racing motorcycles ever. Dick Mann's BSA won at Daytona, and John Cooper - also BSA-mounted - at Mallory Park's Race of the Year, vanquishing the hitherto unbeatable combination of Giacomo Agostini and his four-cylinder MV. Percy Tait and Ray Pickrell had won the 24-hour Bol d'Or endurance race the preceding week on another Triple, and Cooper wrapped up a memorable international season for BSA-Triumph with victory in the 250-mile race at Ontario Motor Speedway in October. The company's financial difficulties meant that there was no works effort in 1972, but privateers kept the Triple winning for many years, and the bike remains a potent force in classic racing today.
Ron Chandler was an established star on the international road-racing scene when he bought the Rob North frame back in 1973. A Thames lighterman by trade, Ron had been using a pre-war AJS 250 and then a Matchless G9 to ride to work when the opportunity presented itself to purchase the ex-Lewis Carr Matchless G45 from dealer Geoff Monty. After a couple of years learning the ropes, Ron felt confident enough in his abilities to purchase a brand new Matchless G50. That was in 1960. Ron won his first two races on the G50 and caught the eye of sponsor Tom Kirby. Moving up a gear, he began competing in the Manx Grand Prix, Isle of Man TT, and World Championship events on the Continent.
After a few relatively successful seasons, Ron transferred his allegiance to Tom's brother, Reg Kirby, and began working for Colin Seeley, building frames and bikes in Colin's Belvedere workshop. With Colin preparing his machines, Ron was able to progress to the next level. In 1967 he was crowned 'King of Brands' and completed his best-ever season by winning the British 500cc Championship. He rode the works Seeleys for a couple more years before the 7R's waning competitiveness forced a switch to the ubiquitous TZ Yamaha for the '350' class, while for 1971 he had a more competitive Kawasaki H1R to ride in 500cc events.
With the advent of Formula 750, Ron decided he needed a bike for that class and approached frame builder Rob North. "I was talking to Mick Boddice about moving up to the 750cc class, and said that I'd like to get hold of a Triumph or BSA Triple. Mick said that he had a factory BSA Rocket 3 engine that was unsuitable for his outfit. We did a deal, and at the end of the season I went up to Mick's garage in the Midlands and collected the engine.
"Chris Allen (my sponsor) and I went up to Rob North's workshop and bought a complete rolling chassis. We delivered the rolling chassis and motor to (Triumph Experimental Department engineer) Arthur Jakeman, who prepared the engine at his home." Arthur Jakeman remembers that Rob North had made it very clear that this frame was the first commercial (i.e. non-works team) sale.
With the blessing of Doug Hele (Triumph's Chief Development Engineer) Ron was able to buy all the factory racing components needed. Ron designed the tank and seat and had them made in alloy by Weldatank in Swanscombe (John Pearson, Lyta). By January '73 Arthur had finished the bike and Ron went up to Coventry to collect it. Although it had a BSA engine, the bike was badged as a Triumph. There is a (copy) document on file, signed by Arthur Jakemen and former BSA-Triumph team manager the late Les Williams, testifying to the machine's origins.
Ron again: "My first outing on the bike was at Mallory Park in March 1973. At the race I was talking to Percy Tait and he asked whether I was going to Rouen, the second meeting of the year. I managed to get a late entry and went down to Rouen with the former Triumph works team: Percy, Tony Jefferies and Les Williams. There was only enough room in their twin-wheel Transit van for the bike, me, and my leathers bag, so I couldn't take any tools or spares!
"Well, I won the first leg by eight seconds and finished 2nd in the second leg, Tony Jefferies beating me by half a wheel's length. On aggregate I won overall." Reputedly, the £2,200 Rouen prize money was the same sum it had cost to build the bike! There are black-and-white photographs on file of Ron receiving the victor's trophy, laurel wreath and Champagne, one of which also shows a somewhat disgruntled looking Tony Jefferies being interviewed!
Ron used the Triple for the rest of the 1973 season, riding in the Transatlantic Match Races (also in 1974) and taking it to continental 750cc races, getting some decent placings. "In '74 we were racing against the 700cc Yamahas and Suzuki 750s and the BSA (sic) was no match for these machines so we decided to sell it and buy a Yamaha." Ron retired from racing in 1975 but in 1983 was tempted back on track to take part in classic parades, which he would enjoy for the next 30 years.
In the meantime, Ron's Rouen-winning Triumph had been acquired by the Bee Bee brothers, and while racing under their banner it had an engine displacement of 830cc. Bee Bee team rider Alistair Frame used this machine extensively, amassing an impressive 52 race wins in three years (1977-1979 inclusive) during which period he won three Championships at Aintree and for a while held the lap record at that circuit. He also held the Midland Club Championship for three years, riding at circuits like Cadwell Park, Mallory Park, Donington Park and Wellesbourne.
Having retired in 1975, Ron did not ride again until Mike Hailwood's memorial meeting at Donington Park in 1983. Meanwhile, Chris Allen had bought the ex-Eddie Mannschreck lowboy-framed BSA Triple and Ron began riding it at various parades, commencing in 1998. Ron takes up the story again: "I had often wondered what had happened to my old Rouen-winning machine, and felt that it would be nice to buy it back someday. The problem was, of course, that I had no idea where it was.
"I was riding Chris Allen's ex-Jim Rice BSA at Silverstone when I met Michel Laurette, a French journalist. I asked him whether he could get me a ride at Montlhéry in France, which he arranged. Michel was reading on the internet about Alistair Frame, one-time Bee Bee Triple rider, and some way through the piece it read '... this bike once belonged to Ron Chandler who rode it to victory in Rouen 1973'."
To cut a long story short, Ron successfully traced the collector who had bought the bike from the Bee Bee brothers: Ronnie Niven, who revealed that he had kept it in his bedroom for the last five years! "He was willing to sell it to me, so at last I got my bike back. And I knew it was without doubt my bike because at a Match Race at Brands Hatch the headstock cracked and I had to get it sorted in time for the next race! We stood it up on its back wheel vertically and Chris Vincent brazed it up for me. The next day I took it to Colin Seeley and he put a bigger braze on it."
Ron also recognised the footrests that Arthur Jakeman had made, and the bike also came with spares including the Bendix points and quill drive that Ron had run it with, which were reinstated during the rebuild. Importantly, Arthur recognised the engine, which had been returned to 750cc capacity, as the original BSA factory unit from 1973. Ron had the Triumph restored to 1973 Rouen specification, the mechanical rebuild and re-assembly being entrusted to Arthur and the paintwork to Alfred Coker. The restoration was finished in 2003.
Included in the sale is the 1973 Rouen Trophy and an original side panel from 1974, the latter in original paint and with all the sponsors' stickers in place (the rest of the bike was repainted in 2003). Among other documentation, the history file contains images of Arthur Jakeman working on the machine in 2003; Ron with the Triumph at his house; and the Rouen anniversary. There are also lots of colour photographs and numerous magazines on file featuring Ron and the Triple, together with display boards from various events.
Since the rebuild's completion Ron has ridden the Triumph at numerous high-profile events including Les Coupes Moto Légende, Festival of 1000 Bikes, Beezumph Rally and the Rouen anniversary. It was last ridden in 2017 at the Festival of 1000 Bikes at Mallory Park. Ron and his wife Angela have much enjoyed their time with the Triumph, which has given them a huge amount of pleasure. However, Ron is now of an age where he can no longer ride and wishes to see his historic Triumph (possibly the last built-in-period Formula 750 Triple in anything like original condition) go to a good home and be appreciated.
Also included in the sale is a quantity of spares and accessories, some of them highly desirable 'works' items.
• Engine covers
• Cylinder block (damaged liner)
• Cylinder heads x 2 (HDA castings, as favoured by the works team)
• Pistons and con-rods
• Piston ring sets
• Camshafts x 3
• Spark plugs
• Ignition coils
• Lucas ignition box (works type)
• Carburettor parts
• Oil cooler
• AR Racing front brake master cylinder
• Sprockets (full set of)
• Paddock starter
• Ignition cabling
• Wiring loom
• Control levers
• Fork parts
• Various gaskets
Offered without key
All lots are sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding