New Imperial 250
Beginning as a bicycle manufacturer in 1887, New Imperial made its first motorcycle in 1901 and went on to forge a reputation as an innovative manufacturer. With their racing models, New Imperial scored six Lightweight TT wins, but it was their range of u
My first association with the New Imperial brand/name/make of motorcycles was in 1947/48, at age seventeen. One of the adult workers at our factory was building a house and asked me to work Saturdays to help him finish it, in readiness for his English bride to come out. “Mick” was in England in the New Zealand Air Force during World War II. It was agreed that I take an old motorcycle as payment, as I was interested in bikes. It was a basket case – all in bits, but I took it home and eventually assembled all the bits. It was a 1928 model New Imperial – 2 ¾ horsepower, side valve; the first of the New Imperial saddle tank models. I eventually got it running but after a couple of rides (you could get a licence in New Zealand at age 15), the bottom end failed. We discovered that the crank pin had been built up with weld, then machined. The weld failed. Mick took the bike back, but I still remember those first rides on a New Imp! Fast-forward 65 years. Imagine, looking through Ross Martin’s new shed and his collection on motorcycles in 2012, and there it was – a New Imperial, my first bike. Ross said it was a 1933, 150cc overhead valve Model 23 New Imperial 3-speed hand-change, coil ignition, and for 1932, unit construction enclosed helical gear primary drive. And yes, the motor does run ‘backwards’. The bike was unmolested, original condition, even down to the Dunlop rubber saddle, complete with the original plaque. It was missing the headlight, carburettor, exhaust pipe, leather-fronted tool box, and tail light. We eventually discovered that it was a Model 23, but with sports options including upswept pipe, and a lifting handle to rear guard (no carrier) – so it is a Model 25. The bike went down to my brother Rod’s at Apollo Bay and the restoration commenced in late 2013.
LEFT The actual TT winner was a little more mechanically sophisticated!
LEFT Original tax disc dates from last registration in 1935. BELOW Drive side with the neat aluminium alloy primary chaincase. BOTTOM Fishtail exhaust is reminiscent of the company’s highly successful Brooklands racers.