In Massachusetts there is now a chain of stores called building 19. They deal mostly in salvage stock and insurance claimed items. In 1970/1971 they were selling Triumph 500 side valve military bikes brand new in the crate for I think around $500. A bunch of us went and looked at one on display. At the time the ad just said 500cc Triumph. We were hoping for a current OHV design. We all passed but I believe that they had 20 -25 of these.
Did a little more digging with the following:
Initially based on wartime 5TW design of Bert Hopwood for a military 500cc side valve twin that never reached production. Following a post war military requirement, was redesigned by Edward Turner (ET) along lines of his 5T but with side valves and a rigid frame.
In production from 1950 to 1965 with nearly 6000 built in total. Became the standard NATO motorcycle of the period and sold to a number of NATO armies. Never listed by Triumph in their catalogue as it was a military only design. Most would however been sold on as military surplus and found there way onto the civilian market. Very rare even in the UK (main sales were to the British Army and Airforce plus, I believe Holland and Belgium). Have only seen a handful in 20 yrs. Occasionally offered for sale, usually as a box of bits. Apparently quite nice to ride but rather slow. Very surprised that any have turned up in the US.
The Canadian army used them and then sold off machines and parts, probably during the '60s. They surface occasionally here, and I've seen a few but never ridden one. When I was living in Regina Sk I was told that someone there had set a class speed record at Bonneville on one a few years ago.
Well, that was the idea for all this none sense. I was looking at running one at Bonneville, where SCTA gives a 33 1/3% handicap for side valve engines. So, the idea would be to run a 666.66cc flathead in the 500cc class. But, it doesn't sound like I will every see or afford one, let alone race one!
There were 3 Triumph dealers in the Boston area, Andrew's Triumph, Spooner's Garage, and Triumph of Wellesley. Of course none are still in buisness. John Healey who ran Triumph of Wellesley runs Coventry Spares and I belive still runs the Triumph International Owners Club (TIOC). He might be able to give you more info on the bikes that made it to Building 19. I actually saw one about a year later. Spoke with the owner. He actually purchased two of them, the second was for spare parts.
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