THE FULL CIRCLE BSA
Having found myself an involuntary spectator for the 2017 Pre-65 Scottish, an event I have competed in since 1994 on Matchless and BSA machines, I realised that a man can indeed have too many motorcycles! I walked into my ‘Batcave’ and had a look at my 1962 BSA B40, and the stark realisation dawned on me that I didn’t really need two Pre-65 BSAs, and one would have to go.
In 2016 I had an easier ride through sections on my 250cc C15T than I could ever have dreamed of achieving on the heavier 343cc stable-mate the B40. For sure the C15 was lighter, but also better suspended with Ohlin rear shocks, and the motor benefited from a ‘bespoke’ electronic ignition system, which made the ‘redundancy selection’ process that much easier. Not wishing the BSA to go to a bad home I tested the waters on social media, which received a favourable response. The trials community being small, they knew that my machines were well cared for.
In 2004 I purchased the B40 from an old friend, Mr John F MacGregor of Glencoe, the first man to lay out the Pre-65 Scottish in 1984, but there is more to this tale than a simple purchase of an elderly motorcycle. MacGregor had bought the machine from Gordon Jackson; not the AJS factory rider but his namesake from Scarborough who had ridden it in the very early Pre-65 Scottish back in the mid-1980s. I had a hand in the delivery of the machine; having met up with Gordon at Keswick when on holiday in 1999 in the Lake District I had been asked to do a favour and help transport it to John’s house which lies in the shadow of Pap of Glencoe. My involvement gained me a new and dear friend in Gordon. I had a quick test ride and I admired the BSA at the time. Gordon was quite sad to see it being placed on the trailer ready for transportation to its new home in the Scottish Highlands. It was duly delivered to John MacGregor during the weekend of the ACU British Youth Trials round at nearby Lagnaha.
The years went by and I happily ‘campaigned’ my 350 G3C Matchless but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ride the heavy Matchless forever so began the search for a lighter machine. I considered myself a ‘350-fourstroke man’ at heart. Having remembered MacGregor’s B40 it ticked all the boxes; I gave John a call. It was a lengthy conversation as we both can talk for Scotland, especially when it comes to trials. Eventually I got around to the purpose of the call: to ask John if he were ever to sell the ‘Beesa’ that he would give me first shout. This he did but in the next breath he said: “Well John, how much would you pay for it, if I were to sell it today?” I gave him my reply in pounds sterling and the deal was done! Some three weeks later I travelled down to Glencoe and concluded the transaction, money changed hands and 946ERH was mine.
I continued to ride my Matchless until the 2007 Pre-65 Scottish and, in the words of my old friend and SSDT secretarial mentor Bill Grant from Rogart: “John, the motorcycle will tell you when it’s time to quit”. Well my G3C told me in 2007; I came down off the Mamore Road and I was quite ‘puggled’.
The following year I entered on the B40, now with some improvements; this was a wise move and I felt at ease. Over the course of the next couple of years I ‘tricked up’ the front suspension by having a set of TL250 Honda Showa forks, sourced from the USA, grafted within the BSA yokes and sliders retaining the genuine BSA look. The B40 served me well from 2007 until 2015; I rode it at the Pre-65 Scottish and the Highland Classic Trials when the opportunity to buy Gerry Minshall’s C15T arose. A short test ride at Ballachulish on the Monday of the 2015 SSDT saw me parting with a large sum of money in the June when Gerry delivered the C15 when he came to ride our splendid Highland Classic Two-Day at Alvie Estate. I rode the C15 in the 2016 Scottish trial, lending it to my friend Javier Cruz for the Highland Classic in the June; he loves that machine, which he owned for a year too!
So back to the present and December 2016 when I received my ‘Dear John’ letter from the Pre-65 committee explaining that I had been “unsuccessful in the ballot and also unsuccessful in attaining a reserve entry” so it was my fate that I would be relegated to that of a spectator, a position I hadn’t been in since 1992.
With the BSA B40 now surplus to requirements where was the good home? Gordon Jackson had expressed an interest in buying the BSA back when I last spoke to him but he had changed his telephone number. I telephoned John MacGregor and he too had Gordon’s old number so I drew a blank. The sharp-minded MacGregor asked: “Why do you need to contact Gordon?” I replied stating that I was prepared to release the B40 for sale and Gordon may be interested in purchasing it. John would have none of it and he forced me to discuss a price there and then, a bargain was struck and the BSA was to be delivered to Glencoe, not Scarborough.
Feeling somewhat guilty, I managed to track Gordon down through another friend, Peter Race a former Race Controller at Oliver’s’ Mount road races. Without delay I rang Gordon and explained the situation. Initially deflated but conversely delighted in that 946ERH was retained amongst good friends – all three linked together by the ownership of the one BSA – he forgave me! And so the BSA B40 was almost a full circle-owned machine. I like a story with a happy ending, don’t you?
Gordon Jackson; not the AJS factory rider but his namesake from Scarborough on 946 ERH. John Moffat with his good friend Javier Cruz at the 2014 Pre-65 SSDT.
2008 Pre-65 SSDT: John on the 350 G3C Matchless he knew that he wouldn’t be able to ride forever so began the search for a lighter machine. Going for ‘Gold on the BSA – 946 ERH – Pre-65 SSDT in 2009. 2010 Pre-65 SSDT: Mr Moffat on the starting ramp.