1947 Triumph Grand Prix Racer

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Motorcycle manufacturer Triumph had ended factory racing back in the 1920s, but that didn't stop private teams from taking their Triumphs to the track. During WWII, Triumph supplied the military with portable generators powered by their twin cylinder motor with an aluminum alloy head.

That same engine was used by employees to build some special racing bikes in 1946, and Ernie Lyons won the 1946 Manx Grand Prix with one. That success led to a limited run of racing bikes based on the same design. Less than 200 in all were manufactured. Only about 25 were built for the United States in AMA Class C racing. Triumph's American distributor Johnson Motors would only sell them to Triumph dealerships.

This bike is one of only 3 known to survive from the ones that made it to the United States. It finished in 4th place at the 1951 Daytona Beach 200 mile National. The bike has been completely restored to its specifications at the AMA Daytona Beach race.

This car will be sold by Mecum Auctions in Monterey, California on August 18-20, 2016, right before the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 21.

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Price -- Production 25 for AMA class
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(from Mecum Auctions Press Release)

  • From the Bobby Sirkegian Classic Motorcycle Collection
  • Less than 200 Grand Prix were made by Triumph and used for racing only. Only 25 were made for AMA class "C" racing and sent to the U.S.A.
  • This Grand Prix was one of the 25 used for AMA class "C" racing from 1950 to 1953, flat track and road races.
  • Johnson Motors sold these only to Triumph dealers.
  • Sirkegian Triumph ordered two Grand Prix, but only received one and a box of spare parts.
  • Raced at Daytona Beach FL 200 mile national in 1951 and finished in 4th place with Expert Rider Don Bishop aboard, prepared and maintained by master mechanic Fred Ford and entered by Sirkegian Triumph of Los Angeles CA
  • Total restoration done by Bobby Sirkegian to AMA Daytona Beach 1951 specifications.
  • Only 3 of these class "C" Grand Prix racer are still in existence, Very Rare.
  • Frame #TF27551R
  • Engine #47 T100 83990R
  • Sold On Bill Of Sale

Triumph stopped officially supporting racing in the 1920s, but that didn’t mean their motorcycles weren’t raced. Triumph singles and twins, even supercharged twins, could be seen on Europe’s racetracks and in the US on the sands of Daytona before World War II. During the war, Triumph supplied thousands of portable generators to the military, which used their twin-cylinder motor with a distinctive ‘square barrel’ cylinder and head in aluminum alloy, which helped the motor keep cool under a fan-blown metal shroud.

Triumph employees with a racing bent envied that alloy top end as potentially racy, and the factory experimental shop built a few special racers in 1946, with specially tuned 500cc Tiger 100 motors and that ‘square barrel’ alloy top end, with twin carburetors. Ernie Lyons proceeded to win the inaugural postwar Manx Grand Prix in 1946 on one of these machines, so Triumph built a limited number of replicas in 1948, catalogued as the Grand Prix model, which had racing camshafts, twin Amal TT carburetors, a ported cylinder head, lightened and polished valve gear, a polished crankshaft running on roller bearings, and heavy-duty connecting rods. The primary drive was an open chain, and the gearbox was a close-ratio racing item. The front and rear brakes were a full 8 inches, the back running in Triumph’s notorious ‘sprung hub’ suspension, with plunger springing inside the rear hub.

It’s thought between 150 and 200 Triumph Grand Prix racers were delivered between 1948-50, and all were very special machines, each hand-tuned by the factory experimental department. A few – perhaps 25 – were built up for the US, to race in AMA Class C racing, which allowed only catalogued production machines to race, limited to 500cc for OHV motors, and 750cc for sidevalve bikes. They did well too, winning the 1950 Amateur Daytona 100-mile race in 1950, with Rod Coates aboard. This 1948 Triumph Grand Prix is one of those ‘AMA’ machines, and was raced between 1950 and ’53 by Sirkegian Triumph of Los Angeles, one of only two dealers to receive racers from US distributor Johnson Motors. Sirkegian ordered a pair of racers, but got only this machine and a box of spare parts. This Sirkegian bike was raced in flat tracks and road races, and most notably at the 1951 Daytona Beach 200-mile National, where it finished in 4th place, with Don Bishop riding, and mechanic Fred Ford keeping it together. Bobby Sirkegian totally restored this machine to its 1951 AMA Daytona Beach specifications, and it is one of only 3 known surviving ‘Class C’ Triumph Grand Prix motorcycles. As such, it is an extremely rare version of the most rare and desirable of all postwar Triumphs.