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.