Lo­cal lovelies

Old Bike Australasia - - EX­CEL­SIOR MANX­MAN -

The ex-Jim Mad­sen 350cc Manx­man Way back in is­sue num­ber 2, we fea­tured the late Doug James – the orig­i­nal boy-won­der ‘Wol­lon­gong Whiz” who at age 17 be­came the youngest-ever win­ner of an Aus­tralian TT when he rode his 250cc Ex­cel­sior Manx­man to vic­tory at Phillip Is­land in Jan­uary 1939. He fol­lowed that up with a sec­ond place to the vastly ex­pe­ri­enced Tommy Jemi­son in the 1939 Aus­tralian Grand Prix – the first meet­ing held on the newly tar-sur­faced Mount Panorama. The fol­low­ing year he was third at Bathurst, and dur­ing the war years his beloved Manx­man was snaf­fled by the army, never to reap­pear – al­though he searched for it for many years. In the end he gave up look­ing, and set­tled in­stead for an equally fa­mous ma­chine – the 1937 350cc Manx­man, des­ig­nated ER-12 by the fac­tory and rid­den with great suc­cess pre-war by Jimmy Mad­sen. Mad­sen es­tab­lished the Aus­tralian 350cc Mo­tor­cy­cle Land Speed record in Septem­ber 1937 at Liv­er­pool, NSW, and in the same year won the Aus­tralian 350cc Grand Prix in the last race meet­ing held on the Old Vale Cir­cuit at Bathurst. In 1940 he was beaten by a bike’s length by Ve­lo­cette-mounted Dave Jenk­ins in the NSW Ju­nior TT at Mount Panorama. By a strange twist of fate, Doug had rid­den the Mad­sen Ex­cel­sior dur­ing the prac­tice ses­sions for the Phillip Is­land meet­ing, as his friend Gor­don Spence had pur­chased the bike from the NSW dis­trib­u­tor Eric Moore. But as the 250cc and 350cc races were com­bined, he had to choose which class to con­test, and he cor­rectly opted for the 250. The chance to buy the 350 came about af­ter a chance meet­ing with Mad­sen around 1970, when Jim had men­tioned that his orig­i­nal 350 (Doug’s Phillip Is­land prac­tice bike), was ly­ing in a back yard at Went­worth Falls in the Blue Moun­tains. Doug leapt into ac­tion and tracked down the owner, who agreed to sell for $1400. Ar­riv­ing to col­lect his prize, Doug’s heart sank when he saw the con­di­tion of the fa­mous Manx­man. It was com­pletely dis­man­tled and in a shock­ing state. Still, Doug al­ways wel­comed a chal­lenge and carted home the pile of bits. Restora­tion took sev­eral years, and Doug did vir­tu­ally the en­tire job him­self. Sourc­ing the cor­rect trans­fers for the petrol tank proved dif­fi­cult but not in­sur­mount­able, and he enam­elled the del­i­cate tank, as well as do­ing all the other paint­work. The Manx­man re­mained in his pos­ses­sion un­til he passed away a few years ago, and is cur­rently for sale.

1936 500 Manx­man ‘Spe­cial’. Perth-based his­to­rian and re­storer Mitchell Barnes was re­spon­si­ble for restor­ing a very rare ex-works 500 Manx­man with an in­ter­est­ing his­tory. He takes up the story: “Af­ter Parkin­son’s suc­cess (in the 1936 Manx GP), Alan Bruce re­turned to the 500 de­sign­ing new crankcases to scav­enge bet­ter and strengthen the main bearing sup­port. He gave it a right port head

Doug James in 2005 with the ex-Jim Mad­sen 350 Ex­cel­sior Manx­man that he re­stored from a pile of rusty bits.

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