I am a happy subscriber to your magazine, and this is my first contact with you via E-Mail. I am currently 91 years of age and ride a 250cc Overhead Valve Le-Grande Cruiser. I started riding motorcycles before the first Triumph Speed Twin came to Australia. I had learnt to ride and got my licence on a Pre War MSS Velocette, that I purchased from Vic Huxley. This was an ex-Army MSS, and I thought it was just wonderful. I purchased one of the first Triumph Speed Twins that was sold in Brisbane by Morgan and Wacker. My Dad knew Wacker Senior, and this got me one of the very first ones available. The ride and feel of this machine was naturally colossal compared to the girder fork Velo. I rode this Triumph on several long distance trips, Brisbane to Sydney, and Brisbane to Cairns, etc. When the advertising came out, about the soon to be released Norton Dominator, I immediately placed an order from Bob Todd’s Norton Distributor, on the South Side of the Brisbane River. When the Norton was about to be released in Brisbane, I immediately put the Speed Twin up for sale and it sold within a week. When I arrived at Bob Todd’s to ride my new Norton away, he asked me how much I weighed. I was about 70 kilograms and told him so. He then said that I might have some trouble starting it, because the engine was tight. I came to appreciate his words of wisdom. It needed a Heavier foot than mine to kick start it. One of his Sales Persons came out and started it. Then I was advised to take it for a good long ride to settle everything in smoothly. I took it for a 200 mile trip and it settled in beautifully. I could then kick it over myself. Even though the Speed Twin had been such a wonderful step up from the Pre War bikes on the road, the Norton’s steering precision, general roadholding, and absolute joyful cornering was a pleasure to partake in. Our club used to have week-end friendly racing meets, with quite a few other interested bike groups at an airstrip at Strathpine that was abandoned by the Squadrons of American Mustangs that had been there for the Defence of Brisbane during the War. There was an AJS 500 that had been breathed on very heavily and went like the clappers. I took my Dominator off the road and started to do some serious warming up work on it. I spent 8 weekends matching all joints, polishing almost to a mirror finish the induction airways, the cylinder head, removing the dynamo and plugging the hole with an aluminium disc, and also removing the front mudguard, and part of the rear guard. I worked in a Tool Room as an Engineering Cadet at the time, and made a forward-facing positive air intake for the carburettor. On my first test on the strip, I saw 115 mph on the speedo. This also meant that I beat the socks off the hot AJS, so I had lots of friends begging for a lap or two. What a wonderful bike it turned out to be.
I noticed in your Article, page 98, Issue no 60, that you had a pic of a Dominator as being the First Dominator and it had a sprung rear end. Mine definitely did not have a sprung rear end. I read an article a few years ago that the factory had cobbled together some of their new twin motors with some unused rigid frames to dump off to Australia to whet their appetite, until they had enough of the new frames to take over. However, sprung or unsprung, it was a wonderful step forward. David Griffiths Brisbane, Qld. In OBA 51 we featured the rare rigid frame Dominator – the Model 77, which was sold in Australia around 1953. – Ed
David and his current machine.