What might have been


Looking through the magazines at the local shop, I spotted the ‘Supreme Sunbeam’ picture on the cover of the July issue of The Classic MotorCycle, which I immediately purchased.

At school in North London in about 1950, our metalwork teacher arrived one day on a new S8. I had little knowledge of motorcycles at the time – many I did look at always seemed to be a collection of parts which somehow put together made a machine.

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The S8 design appeared to me as a thought-through design – the engine looked right and I was impressed with the shaft drive, which seemed to me to be a cleaner option; I of course knew nothing of the drawbacks mentioned in the article.

There is a saying in engineering “if it looks right it is right”. As an engineer, there is some truth in that.

In my later years that would have been the machine I would have purchased, but my grandfather was killed on a motorcycle three years before I was born and my father, I was sure, would not have approved of me buying a motorcycle – in those 1950s times when you lived under your parents’ roof, you did what they said.

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As a compromise, I suggested to my father I would like to purchase a Lambretta LD 150 scooter, suggesting that they were safer.

All he said was: “You realise you are taking your life into your own hands?”

The next day I ordered the Lambretta and replaced it with the Mk.I TV175 two years later. That S8 has always been in my memory as the machine I never had.

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Ernest Wisner,

Read more Letters, Opinion, News and Features at www.classicmotorcyle.co.uk and in the August 2020 issue of The Classic Motorcycle – on sale now!

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