Mys­tery hy­brid

Old Bike Australasia - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

I bought yes­ter­day an old racer. It’s a 1954 Manx 500 with an AJS 500 en­gine fit­ted, a Nor­ton lay­down box and a dou­ble-sided home-made front brake out of two 7-inch Tri­umph drums. It has Nor­ton road bike front forks and Nor­ton back wheel. When it was new it was sold to Ritchie (Dick) Thom­son. I’m as­sum­ing af­ter it was raced in Europe it was shipped back here and sold. I have spo­ken to the last owner who raced it in 1967, John McCarthy, and Noel Mercer who said he raced it once in the early ‘60s. Noel said two brothers in ei­ther Caulfield or Malden in Vic­to­ria built the AJS en­gine, which ap­par­ently has a Manx Big end in it. Noel tells me that a rider named Camp­bell Richard­son rode it to a B class win at Bathurst. He also said Camp­bell’s brother rode it as well but didn’t do any good on it. John McCarthy says he bought the bike off Nairn El­der in about 1962 or ‘63. He said Nairn bought it off Ken French, and he paid 120 pounds for it. He did half a dozen race meets on it; Phillip Is­land, Calder Park, Sandown and his last race in 1967 was Speed­week at Surfers Par­adise. His race num­ber was 88. For some rea­son it’s listed in this pro­gram as Match­less pow­ered. John said it had Match­less painted on the tank so some­body wrote that in the pro­gram. He also said he saw it run­ning be­fore he bought it with a dust­bin fair­ing and WWII styled nose art shark’s mouth on it. The split Manx tank is in­ter­est­ing (with the rear sec­tion hold­ing oil).

I’m still not sure whether to re­store it or leave it as a sur­vivor, and if any reader knows any­thing about it I would love to hear from them. David Pagano Syd­ney, NSW Email: dav­e­hot­boats@hot­

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