The back room boffin
For around 20 years Geoff Knott has headed the workshop at Classic Style and has been responsible for some stunning restorations as well as the more routine tasks of maintaining the floor stock for sale. Before this, Geoff ran his own small restoration business, Gatefield Classics, in England, but found it difficult to make the endless small jobs profitable. Deciding on a change of scenery, he wrote to Phil Pilgrim to investigate the possibility of a sponsored passage to work in Australia, and this is where Jon Munn takes up the story.
“Phil Pilgrim’s main business is parts, whereas we do complete restoration and all sorts of classic bike work, so Phil suggested that Geoff contact me, which he did. Geoff was conscious of the fact that he was already in his early forties and the cut-off for such emigration is 45, so I suggested he come to Melbourne and have a look around. So he and his wife came for three weeks, loved the place, and I set about arranging the sponsorship. To do this I had to advertise for staff to demonstrate that the skills that Geoff has were unique, and this process took about one year. He’s been with me ever since and I am still amazed at his dedication to detail and perfection. He did our Vincent that won the award at Motorclassica and that was from an absolute basket case. He has just finished restoring a pair of 1959 Triumph Bonnevilles, and they look absolutely brilliant.”
“Geoff’s other passion was sidecar motocross, and he raced extensively in this form of the sport in England and Europe. I was racing a Metisse here in solo VMX, and Geoff came along to a meeting and said it would be fun to get an MX outfit together. We got hold of a later model Norton Wasp and converted it back to twin-shock specification and did a season on it with me riding and Geoff in the chair. Then we decided to get serious and so I got in touch with Robbie Rhind-Tutt, the builder of the Wasp outfits, and got a fully adjustable chassis so we could change camber angles and so on to suit various tracks. That worked very well but the vibration from the engine used to shake apart our trick ignition system so we jig bored the crankcases to make sure everything was straight, and fitted an SR2 magneto. That was amazing, I reckon it gave us 25% increase in power. We could just scorch off the line in second gear and nobody could beat us to the first corner. We won heaps of races including the state championships but we got to a stage where we were both pushing sixty so we thought it was time to let the younger blokes have a go! We still have the Wasp though, just in case…”
Geoff Knott with his latest project – a matched pair of 1959 Bonnevilles.