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: email@example.com