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Old 10-22-2010, 12:34 PM   #1
vonPetrol
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Default Rare Triumph and BSA

Over the last few weeks I've been up in the Sierra foothills hunting down parts for my little 50cc Honda Mini Trails and have "stumbled" upon two rare Brit bikes that have piqued my interest, but like many of you, cash is real lean right now.

The first is a 1970 Triumph Bonneville T120RT. I was looking at some parts bikes and spotted this Triumph roller sitting aside a shed. As I got closer, it was clear that it was a 1970 that looked to be in very good condition, aside from the engine and other bits missing. I kneeled down and inspected the frame number and that is when the owner told me it was an "RT" making it as one of only 200 Triumph 750cc homologation specials. I looked for the "RT" on the vin tag but it was difficult to read clearly as it had been repainted and the light was poor.

I got to talking to the owner and he is not a motorcycle guy, but rather a guy who is into buying and selling anything he can turn a buck on and got this in an estate sale. As I peppered him for information, it became clear that he was aware of the limited nature of the bike. He then told me that he had several totes in the garage filled full of parts including the engine...I had to see.

He opened the door to reveal a meticulously restored 1970 Ford Torino 429 Cobra and a nice 1956 Ford F100. There were parts here and there and dozens of boxes and totes. He pulled a couple over and I had a look.

There in one was the entire bottom end with the extra special "RT" stamp, or rather just a special "T" at the end of the vin. From the scope of the parts, it looked as if the previous owner had set about restoring the bike and simply quit...there were restored parts, some NOS stuff, boxes from Rabers.




Light was fading fast and I needed more time to take everything in so I came back the next day with a camera and a '70 Triumph factory parts book. Looking for a particular part in a pile is easy compared to looking for what is missing so I snapped pics and checked off everything. Overall, everything looked well and it was mostly there with one notable exception, the Routt 750cc cylinder. There was a cylinder, but it was a run of the mill 650cc piece. The numbers on the motor cases matched the frame and matched right to left.

In a nutshell, Triumph had Sonny Routt build the overbored cylinders and Triumph installed them on completed bikes once in the States.

I made an offer but no go.

Then, the following day I was not more than 15 minutes from the Triumph when I spotted something in the dark recesses of a garage. It was an OIF roller. I drew closer and gave it a look. It turned out to be a 1971 BSA A70 Lightning. Incredibly enough another one of 200 homologation bikes allowing BSA and riders like Dick Mann to run a 750cc.

As opposed to the Triumph method of getting to 750cc by increasing the bore diameter, BSA chose to increase the stroke.

The current owner also knew the "rareness" of the bike, but also like the Triumph owner, was not into Brit Bikes and had no real intention of ever doing anything with it. He had all the parts, I checked out the engine and the numbers matched. He also said that he had the title and many more original and supporting documents form the dealer.

After I made a deal for a couple of hardtail minis I asked again about the BSA and received a starting price. It was exactly what the Triumph guy wanted for his...damn! I just didn't have the cash.

It was certainly an experience to find to rare Brits, both 750cc homologation bikes, a year apart, both one of 200 and only minutes from eachother...to boot, neither owner was into them at all.

I wish I had the cash on hand, but alas I'm a rather broke mo-fo. However, I'd love to see these bikes get into the hands of folks that really appreciate them and have the will to restore them properly as they should.
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Old 10-22-2010, 12:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

Sounds like a fun and educational day. Hope you left contact info in case they decide to come down on the price.
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Old 10-22-2010, 02:05 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

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Originally Posted by vonPetrol View Post

It was an OIF roller. I drew closer and gave it a look. It turned out to be a 1971 BSA A70 Lightning. Incredibly enough another one of 200 homologation bikes allowing BSA and riders like Dick Mann to run a 750cc.

As opposed to the Triumph method of getting to 750cc by increasing the bore diameter, BSA chose to increase the stroke.

I'm especially fascinated by the A70s....even though OIF, the factory didnt survive long enough to launch a race program...

And as noted, the only internal difference was the rotating assembly (crank/rods/pistons) for stroke.
Factory parts-spec bulletin here -








Good site for these machines > http://www.burtonbikebits.net/bsaa70.htm



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Old 10-22-2010, 09:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

von, You should be aware that the "RT"s only had the "T" added to the engine # and not the frame. Back in the Day, it seemed like every yahoo that bought a Routt kit for a 70 Bonneville,also bought a "T" stamp and most didn't know not to stamp the frame. Now the BSA is much harder to fake and easier to check. Good Luck! Jack
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Old 10-23-2010, 10:37 AM   #5
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Von,
I have an A70 roller. The engine and parts are in boxes just like you found the guy's Trump. Have the title to boot. I, unlike the guy you talked to, love the Brit iron.

I was fortunate. When I got my machine it was one of those stories you only hear about but never participate in. The guy had NO IDEA what he had, and truthfully, I didn't know what its significance was when I first had it either. Cool bikes. I saw a pic somewhere of Dick Mann on one. The race models had pretty cool magneto set ups on them.

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Old 10-23-2010, 12:43 PM   #6
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

Jack,
You're correct and I misremembered, mispoke and mistyped earlier...the Frame vin pad is clean but it was later when I rolled the bike into the guy's garage that I got a good look at the numbers as you can see here.



There is a clear and legitimate appearing "T" on the motor case though as there should be. First thing I looked at after spotting the "T" was the pad itself that has the "Triumph" script stamped in it clearly and cleanly, the pad looks good and so do all the other numbers, no signs of tampering or alteration. From the sources I spoke with over the last month or so, I've learned that there are two styles or typefaces of the additional "T" that were used. The first was a serif "T" that has the foot and ears on the "T" like you see in newsprint or old typewriters. This was used on the eastcoast bikes. The second "T" was a sanserif style that is simple, like this font, like the "T" used on the front end of the T120R stamp; this was for westcoast bikes.

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Old 10-23-2010, 10:14 PM   #7
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

von,Good show, it looks like you are doing your homework and it could well pay off!I remember a few years back that the AMA H.o.F. museum in Pickerington Ohio had the serial #'s of the 204 RT's and if you sent them your #, they would let you know if it was valid. From what I can see,that one is worth the time and effort. Jack
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Old 10-24-2010, 12:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

The Triumph though is missing the Routt cylinder...I've seen a few pop up on the ebay and go for a reasonable amount. If I could lay my hands on one, it'd make the decision about going through more negotiations easier. I talked to the owner of the Triumph last night and told him we were too far apart. Luckily, he is not in the active selling mode, meaning, he is not putting out any effort to advertise and sell the bike. Honestly, I think the bike as is could be had for $3,000...maybe a little less.

Jack, you're right about the AMA Museum. They do in fact have the list and will verify the numbers which is way cool and deserving of a donation for their time and effort if someone wants that done.

I've never really been into doing a "proper" restoration on a car, truck, bike, what have you but have always gone for period alterations. Both the T120RT and the A70 though would be deserving of a full restoration...too bad this damn economy is killin' me.

One note on the A70. Those bikes were originally the orange and white scheme that was shown in the pic earlier...however, the one I found was either green/white or blue/white (it was hard to tell through the dust in the dark corner of the garage), but the owner told me that the bike had sat on the dealer's floor for quite a while and that all the potential buyers told the dealer that they didn't like the color. Eventually, in order to move it, the dealer had it repainted in the same scheme but either blue or green in place of the orange. The current owner even has a letter to that effect written by the original dealer...kind of cool, making it just a little more rare-ish.
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Old 10-24-2010, 02:14 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

Quote:
Originally Posted by vonPetrol View Post

One note on the A70. Those bikes were originally the orange and white scheme that was shown in the pic earlier...however, the one I found was either green/white or blue/white (it was hard to tell through the dust in the dark corner of the garage), but the owner told me that the bike had sat on the dealer's floor for quite a while and that all the potential buyers told the dealer that they didn't like the color. Eventually, in order to move it, the dealer had it repainted in the same scheme but either blue or green in place of the orange. The current owner even has a letter to that effect written by the original dealer...kind of cool, making it just a little more rare-ish.
I wonder did he just swap out coachwork with unused/relacement earlier pieces...

According to Roy Bacon's book that green/white tank and green airboxes were stock '71 Thunderbolt colours (and they were not popular either, especially with all the '71 twins' frames coming painted in an ugly Dove (light) grey....(2nd pic below)







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Old 10-26-2010, 12:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

Hi Von, I'm interested in a BSA A70, is it possible to get in touch with the owner. Thanks Rick
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Old 05-25-2012, 08:19 PM   #11
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Default Re: Rare Triumph and BSA

I have a older buddy that has a barn full of old bikes and he is starting to part with them. He has Rickmans, Triumphs, Nortons, BSAs, and a BSA A70.
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