I asked Rob to send us more informations about his very nice Velo and I received more than that so take time to read this post, this guy is cool.
Paul D'O and Yves H, this post is for you my friends ...
What to buy?
It only takes a short time after buying something to realise what you should have bought, especially when what you are buying is new to you. In my case it should have been a pre war Velocette Mac, perhaps a really early one around 1933 or 34. However what I did end up buying was a 1948 Mac which was the first year the Mac had Dowty air sprung, oil dampened forks rather than the Webb Girders.
I had been looking for a while and at 26 years old Brough Superiors and the much rarer Montgomery’s are just a little out of my budget at the moment. When first looking at classic and vintage bikes if you do not know where to start I can see how overwhelming it can be, there is just so much choice. I was lucky enough that my grandfather was a Velocette fan so it gave me a place to start. He had a collection of LE’s and a Vogue but these were much too modern for me and I really wanted something with a sprung saddle (and girder forks I now know!) and dateless number plates.
After a quick search through what Velocette had to offer with the 500s being a bit too much money the 350 Mac caught my attention having seen a 1954 in unbelievable concours condition at Cotswold Classics. It had an all in one seat and although very nice just did not look right and was too modern. I was searching through the ads on the internet and came across several but the one I came to buy was from Holland from a chap who had 17 bikes and bought this one but was having a clear out! He was asking 3750euro but before I could even email back he dropped it to 3500euro and a long email dialogue ensued. He had some wonderful photos of the bike and it looked in very good condition having been a sprint bike in the past. He was honest and said it needed some work and was not registered. He said it was the 7th Mac made in 1948 according to Ivan Rhodes book. A few more emails and a date was arranged for it to be delivered.
What needs to be done. Lots!
This is a lesson for everyone and one I am glad I have learned with a relatively inexpensive bike. NEVER EVER BUY UNSEEN! It has gone from me thinking it just needed a few bits and pieces to be done to virtually an overhaul still with unknowns in engine and gearbox. I am not saying the previous owner was dishonest just that my naivety led me to think it was going to be better than it was, it looked so nice in the photos! For the same money I am going to have to spend I could have had a much better bike. I think I will have to spend another £1500-£2000 to get it on the road and I will not get that money back. It’s not big money but it is frustrating.
I started a motorcycle maintenance course a few months ago but I am no expert and I really needed some help. I now have a great contact who is a Velocette expert/engineer in Southend on Sea. His name is Peter Trent and I would be happy to pass anyone his details. He has been really great and is giving the bike a full going over and will compile a list of bits and pieces I will need to buy.
I have sent for a spare parts list from Veloce which is the Velocette Owners Club spare parts company.
I have had my share of big modern bikes but I no longer travel far for work and with a couple of accidents it’s not what I want anymore. I would really rather have something slower but altogether different. I have driven lots of classic cars and I find the reaction from other people is brilliant, their defences are down and they are willing to chat with you where as in a new Ferrari they cut you up rather than let you in. For these same reasons I am looking forward to pottering about London and the countryside on my Mac to see who I get to chat too. I also can’t wait to steal all the attention in the West End and the City from the boys with their Supercars, they are 10 a penny and I have never ever seen another classic bike in London away from the Ace Cafe.
Will drop you an update and some more photos as soon as I have a to do list on what needs to be done...
p.s. for a bike with no keys I am not that worried about kids riding off on it, they won’t know how to get it started!