1948 Velocette 348cc KTT Mark VIII Racing Motorcycle For Sale by Auction
One of only 189 built post-WW2 Engine ex-Eric Oliver Restored condition When the FIM instigated the first World Championship in 1949 Velocette were well placed to contest the 350cc class, being able to field a well-developed design that had already proved its worth: the Mark VIII KTT. Traditionally, advances pioneered on the works bikes would appear later on the KTT, and it was at the 1938 Motor Cycle Show that the Mark VIII version first appeared, the major advance over the Mark VII being a new frame with swinging-arm rear suspension, an innovation enjoyed by the factory riders since 1936. In almost all other respects the Mark VIII was as the Mark VII, boasting the latters massively finned single-overhead-camshaft all-alloy engine and separate four-speed gearbox. At a time when most of the opposition was still using rigid frames or the plunger-suspended type, Velocettes swinging fork with its Dowty Oleomatic air-sprung struts conferred a distinct advantage. Riding works bikes to (broadly) Mark VIII pattern, Stanley Woods had won the Isle of Man Junior TT in 1938 and 1939, and in the immediately post-war era Woods mantle would be taken up by Freddie Frith. When Frith retired from racing at the end of 1949 it was as World Champion in the 350cc class, having won all six rounds, though in most cases courtesy of a special twin-cam engine.
In 1950, Bob Fosters three victories would be good enough to bring the World Championship back to Hall Green for a second time. The over-the-counter Mark VIII continued to provide the privateer with a competitive mount at the highest level, as evidenced by Les Grahams victory aboard a customer example at the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix. Only 49 Mark VIIIs were constructed prior to WW2 and a further 189 up to the end of production in the early 1950s. Today the incomparably handsome Mark VIII KTT is one of the most sought after of all British racing motorcycles. The engine of this restored KTT MkVIII originally formed part of a machine (together with frame 131) despatched to future sidecar World Champion Eric Oliver on 24th April 1948. A few weeks later Velocette-mounted Oliver finished 8th and 10th in the Junior and Senior IoM TTs respectively before turning almost exclusively to the sidecar class. (Frame SF94 was originally sent to Archers of Aldershot with engine 972.) Olivers passenger at this time (and during his first World Championship-winning year of 1949) was the celebrated motoring journalist Denis Jenkinson, who raced the Velo to obtain start money to finance the duos sidecar campaign. Accompanying documentation consists of marque specialist Ivan Rhodes valuation estimate (2008) and some photocopy literature.
This motorcycle is one of those affected by the fire at the Museum in 2003. It was subsequently rebuilt by the highly respected marque specialist Ivan Rhodes and briefly road tested, but has not been ridden since the rebuilds completion in 2008. Ivan advises us that this extensive renovation was carried out using either new or old but serviceable components, including a cylinder head and Alfin cylinder barrel. The frame was rebuilt by Spondon Engineering incorporating much new material and may have lost some of its strength in the process. In Ivans opinion the machine is fit for gentle road use only and NOT for racing. Accordingly, prospective purchasers must satisfy themselves with regard to this motorcycles safety, condition, completeness, correctness, or otherwise prior to bidding.
This motorcycle is to be auctioned at our Live and Online Winter Sale, Hanger 113, Bicester Heritage, OX26 5HA.
Friday 11 December
Spares & Memorabilia (Lot 1 - 112) 9am
The National Motorcycle Museum Reserve Collection (Lots 201 – 252) 11am
Saturday 12 December
Motorcycles (Day 2) (Lots 501 – 708) 10am
In light of the current government guidelines and relaxed measures we are delighted to welcome viewing, strictly by appointment. All the lots will be on view at Bicester Heritage in our traditional Hangar 113. We will ensure social distancing measures are in place, with gloves and sanitiser available for clients wishing to view motorcycle history files.
Please contact Bonhams Motorcycles by clicking 'Message the seller' with your preferred date, time and vehicle registration number to book an appointment.
Wednesday 9 December 9am to 5pm
Thursday 10 December 9am to 5pm
Friday 11 December 9am to 5pm (Lots 501 – 708 only)
LIVE AND ONLINE AUCTION
Please note that whilst public viewing is available by appointment, the auction itself will be conducted from a remote saleroom, behind closed doors without public access, in accordance with the current government guidelines. All bidding will be conducted via Online, Telephone and Absentee Bidding. Please contact our Bids Department to register using the 'Message the seller' button.
COLLECTION OF PURCHASED LOTS
Motorcycle lots must be cleared from the sale venue by 2pm Sunday 13 December 2020. Limited collection is available until 2pm Monday 14 December, by appointment only. If collecting Monday, please access Bicester Heritage via the 'Main Gate', Buckingham Road, OX26 5HA. Please email us using the 'Message the seller' button with your collection or transport instructions as soon as possible following your successful bid. Failure to instruct Bonhams by the given time will result in your vehicle being uplifted to store at your expense, as detailed in the Conditions of Sale. Buyers should satisfy themselves that they have collected all relevant log books, documents and keys relating to their Lot(s) at time of collection.
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