• Bruce Cox


Images and information courtesy of Salon Prive

Not to be outdone by the cars that lined up outside Blenheim Palace for this year’s Salon Prive, the motorcycle display featured three classes spanning 75 years, from a 1914 Triumph to a 1989 Ducati 851 Corse. They were assessed by a hugely knowledgeable judging panel that included Somer Hooker, former racer Steve Parrish, Henry Cole, Dennis Frost, and Mike Jackson. They chose a superb and totally original Ducati 750SS as the Best Motorcycle in the show,

The 1974 Ducati 750 Super Sport that was voted Best Motorcycle in Show

Another superb Ducati on show was this Corse 851 superbike class racer

This 1980 four-cylinder RG500 was typical of the Suzuki racers ridden by Grand Prix stars like former British Champion, Steve Parrish and the late, great World Champion, Barry Sheene.

Steve Parrish was on familiar terms with the bike that scooped the honours in the Competition Class as he rode a similar Suzuki 500 for the factory team in World and British Championship races.

Said Steve, “I may not be an expert in many things but I am when it comes to RG500s, having ridden and crashed so many of them! The 1980 model was far better than it would have ever been when it came out of the box from Japan. It was absolutely superb. I’d love to own it myself, but don’t think I could afford it!”

A 1965 Norton 650cc Twin completed the motorcycle winners by topping the Exceptional Street Motorcycles Class. Back in those days the Norton, AJS and Matchless brands were all under the ownership of the British conglomerate, Association Motorcycles Corporation and this particular model was a mixture of these brands, It carried a Norton badge on its Matchless-sourced petrol tank and had a Norton 750cc engine. Front forks, brakes and wheel hubs were also Norton components but the frame was from contemporary Matchless and AJS models, as was the well-proven AMC gearbox. That’s why bikes using this mixture of parts were often referred to as ‘unified’ models.

There was also an AJS on display that pre-dated the AMC ownership of the brand. This 1939 V-Twin caught the eye of the Duke of Marlborough who voted it his personal Best Motorcycle in the show,

The Norton 650 twin that won the Exceptional Street Motorcycles class

This 1939 AJS V-twin was the Duke of Marlborough’s favourite

Runner-Up in the Exceptional Street Machine class was this 1973 MV Agusta 750 Sport

Another Italian gem on show was this1963 Ducati 250 Scrambler

A real rarity on display was this 1950 Husqvarna 250 two-stroke built in Sweden.

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