Book Review

“Velocette – Passion of a Lifetime”
Technical excellence and much, much more . . .
Author: Ivan Rhodes
Forewords by: Stanley Woods and Geoff DodkinDedicated to the late Chris Swallow
Publisher: The Velocette Owners’ Club c/o The Regalia Shopwww.velocetteowners.comHardback, 300 x 215mm (landscape); 288 pages with more than 540 photographs and illustrations.£30 (UK), $39 (USA), $52 (Canada), $54 (Australia)

Highly regarded worldwide as a Velocette expert, particularly regarding the overhead camshaft models – which author Ivan Rhodes describes as his ‘passion of a lifetime’, he could also justifiably be called the ultimate clubman.

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This comes from trials, scrambles and road racing, all on the same ride-to-work bike (a 1926 350cc Big Port AJS) in the late 1940s, on to competing in the TT and, of course, finding and restoring historic KTT Velocettes to successfully race in vintage and post-vintage events.

Thirty years on and much additional information has been accumulated to produce this revised edition of his original popular book Technical Excellence Exemplified (a Veloce slogan).

With 29 chapters plus three appendices covering machine specifications, engine frame and gearbox numbers and production figures, we are taken through a concise history of Veloce (pronounced Veeloce), describing its early years, moving on to detail its range of competent two-stroke machines before providing the reader with an in-depth study of the influential overhead camshaft models, with which the company made its great influence on the racing world and their successors in the pushrod ‘M’ range with the Viper and Venom variants.

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Denis Frost contributes the story of the ‘Everyman’ machine – the LE (light engine).

Complicated, expensive and initially problematic, sales were poor despite its adoption by several police forces.

There is a particular emphasis on the Veloce racing heritage. Also, the development and restoration of the two supercharged racing machines – ‘Whffling Clara,’ the blown KTT single, and the fabulous, potential world-beater, the shaft-driven vertical twin ‘Roarer’ along with its road-going derivative the Model O and the 24-hour record attempts.

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There is also an update on the thriving Velocette scene in Australia and, of course, Stuart Hooper’s ‘World’s Fastest Velocette.’

In addition, Ivan has included his personal recollections of the Velocette community – the Goodmans of course (the owners of what in fact was quite a small family business), the designers Charles Udall and Phil Irving, plus racers including the great Stanley Woods and the first 350cc world Champion (on a Velocette) Freddie Frith and many others.

Dedicating this book to the late Chris Swallow, Ivan Rhodes is to be congratulated on this superb, high-quality, historically important book containing over 540 photographs with the front cover portraying Sam Rhodes (the author’s grandson) in championship-winning form on the Graham Austen 1954 MSS. Highly recommended.

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Jonathan Hill.

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