Having been stationed in Europe during World War II, the American personnel developed a taste for the European style of motorcycle – a lighter, more agile machine than their homegrown bikes. US prosperity in the post-war years created a huge market for the British motorcycle industry, compounded by their “export or die” mantra to kick-start industry and help pay the debts accrued during the hostilities. Racing on Sunday, selling on Monday was another mantra that seemed to work a treat, and BSA took full advantage with their hugely successful Gold Star model, with no greater success than the famed Catalina Grand Prix, an off-road race held on the island of Catalina just off the coast of Los Angeles. Facing the other way, Southern California offered a different kind of off-road racing. The Mojave Desert hosted a huge series of fantastic point to point races, and numerous British manufacturers took advantage of the opportunity to market their wares. But the sand discipline needed a different kind of machine, one with greater power and torque. BSA stepped up with a 650cc twin-cylinder engine with high compression pistons, full race cams and a close-ratio gearbox. It was mounted in a lightweight frame and with no lighting or road equipment, the Spitfire Scrambler of 1959 was marketed as an outright racer. Numerous record sources indicate that only 267 examples of the bike were ever produced.
The bike offered here, was the subject of a ground-up restoration by the world-renowned marque expert, Jim Hiddleston. Hiddleston’s reputation as a world class restorer of British iron has been forged on innumerable concours show fields and auction results. His attention to detail is unsurpassed, which translates to many world-record prices at sale.
This bike started as a complete matching numbers example, as verified by the BSA Owners Club and factory records. The engine was fully rebuilt, as was the gearbox, and they were hung in a fully restored frame. All cycle parts were fully refurbished and finished to the very highest quality and to original factory specification, as can be seen in the photos. Although an older restoration of Jim’s, the bike’s quality has certainly held up perfectly, having been used to a minimum.
This motorcycle is a fantastic opportunity to acquire an investment grade machine, ready for any discerning collector and show field.