Six is the best at Stafford

Keith Newton’s CBX1000 Honda – an across-the-frame six – was chosen as the top machine at the October spectacular.

Words: GARY CHAPMAN  Photograph: JOHN ROBINSON

The October Stafford show, which runs under the title of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics, attracts a varied and eclectic range of machinery, and although the accent is Japanese, there’s plenty there to satisfy motorcycle enthusiasts of every genre.

For example, if Italian exotica ticks your boxes, then the staggering Cagiva collection of tasty race tackle on the main stand was worthy of extended study. Ranging from the small capacity class machines through to the last – and especially beautiful – V-four 500cc two-strokes, to see such a tide of red (the red sea?) collected together will have made many an Italia-phile showgoer’s journey worthwhile on its own. 

There was also a famous name associated with the marque at the show – Pier Paolo Bianchi – and he was interviewed onstage by compere (and TT winner) Steve Plater. Though the Italian three-time 125cc world champion (though not on a Cagiva) speaks little English, by a process of interpretation, interesting insights into the period were conveyed to the public. South African 350cc world champion Jon Ekerold, who also rode a Cagiva, was along for the ride too.

The main guest of honour was Terry Rymer, ex-500cc GP rider and twice world endurance champion. Terry (a first-time Stafford visitor) was quite simply staggered by the sheer size of the show, and he filled his time between interviews by looking at things. He explained that the bikes were very much his era, as his dad and uncle both ‘went Japanese’ in the 1970s, so the bikes Terry grew up wanting were like many on show. Terry presented the prizes on Saturday afternoon.

The winner of the biggest trophy was Keith Newton, who was awarded best in show for his simply superb Honda CBX1000-2 that he bought brand new in 1979 from The Honda Shop in Brownhills in the West Midlands. He owned it until 1982 when he reluctantly sold it on. Subsequently, he then searched for it for “years”, his quest leading to him reacquiring it in 2010. For the next four years he rode it ‘as purchased,’ before embarking on a full restoration of the maroon-coloured six. And a fine job he did too. It took centre-stage on the CBX Owners’ Club stand, mounted centrally on a plinth.

There was another trophy for the surely over-strained shelves of Graham Bowen’s trophy cabinets (must be plural…) as he picked up another pot, this time for Best British Bike, awarded to his quite imply exquisite, early Alaskan white finished 1963 Triumph Bonneville. The first year of unit construction of the 650cc Triumph was 1963, with Graham’s being right from the start.

The engine in Chelsea Borchet’s best off-road winning machine is the single carb version of the 650cc unit Triumph motor as in Graham’s Bonnie, and the gleaming Steve McQueen tribute machine (read all about it and Chelsea’s inspiring build of it in last month’s issue of The Classic MotorCycle) won Chelsea the best off-road prize. Since completing the build earlier in the year, 2500 miles have been recorded, though not that you can tell from the machine’s still-sparkling appearance.

Another of the lady winners was Heidi Cockerton, whose trophy cabinet must be similarly overladen to Bowen’s. This time, Heidi had a Suzuki Diamond Free on display and you can read more about the machine in Martin Squires’ Sketchbook Travels on page 84. Talking of the 1953 machine, Heidi reckoned that “restoring an older Suzuki than this would be impossible!” – Suzuki was only founded in 1952.

Other winners included Mike Bracken (1957 Ducati Sport, Best pre-1960s), Sammy Miller’s four-cylinder Moto Villa was the best trade stand display, while numerous other lovely machinery gathered prizes for their owners too. The presentation, on Sunday afternoon, was well attended, which saw the UK two-strokes take the £1000 top club stand prize (voted for by all the attending clubs) with the Kettle Club (£500) second and Kawasaki Triples third (£20).

Although Sunday was a wet and miserable day, the nice, warm weather on Saturday ensured a good attendance.

Read more in the December issue of TCM – on sale now!

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