The specialist

Tony Donnithorne is the Vintage MCC marque specialist for Zenith. Recognised as a leading authority on the manufacturer, Tony even has some of the official factory records. We are grateful for a generous measure of his time in helping out with this guide.

Vintage Motor Cycle Club: www.vmcc.netTel: 01283 540557

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Model history

Spurred on by engineer and occasional racer Freddie Barnes, Zenith flourished in the 1920s. Based not far from Brooklands, riders on Zeniths regularly featured in successful record-breaking attempts at the track.

During these golden years, this readily translated into sales of a wide range of road machines.

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Then sales fell away and in 1930 Zenith became an early casualty of the depression.

After a brief hiatus it was rescued by its dealer agent Writers, based in Kennington, south London, and also Ariel main agents.

A sparse 1931 Zenith range had flagship JAP-engined V-twins of 680cc and 750cc.

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A much expanded choice the following year listed an 1100 (the CP) as well as a deluxe version of the 750.

The 680 was discontinued in 1935. In various evolutions it was the best seller of the big twins.

The 1100 and 750 continued and by 1937 the deluxe 750 became the standard model.

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After the war, all engineering enterprises faced huge problems. Zenith announced its return to the market, but made only 17, all 750s, some destined for Australia, before stopping production in 1950.

The Zenith name finally disappeared when marque owner, Writers, ceased trading around 1970.

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