The 2018 edition of the vintage rally
Every year the 21 Gun Salute Vintage Rally & Concours Show aims to do justice to motorcycles in its fold and that attempt was repeated for the 2018 edition as well. But compared to the cars, the effort needs to be highlighted because the bikers seemed relegated to the back of their minds even though it never was the intent of the event’s patron saint Madan Mohan.
Better co-ordination on the classification of motorcycles
One of the major improvements on the motorcycle front compared to previous events was better co-ordination on the classification front and also a better layout for the bikes to bask in all their glory. This year the event was flagged off from the India Gate start venue and instead of the run to the Buddh International Circuit like last time round, this year it was to run in the direction of Gurgaon and the picturesque manicured lawns of the Ambience Greens golf course. The fact that in a hot steamy environment all the bikes ran the distance was praiseworthy.
There was a three member jury for the bikes with Sanjay Tripathi of Hero MotoCorp’s race department and also part of the firm’s product planning team combining with Vimal Sumbly, managing director of Triumph India to evaluate the contender vehicles in the four classes. Thankfully this duo in their first ever jury duties for an event of this kind, never gave anyone a cause for worry least of all yours truly. This was a good effort for bikes and bikers but compared to the cars much needs to be done by Madan Mohan and team and I am confident it would be if bikes are to be given the same treatment as the high profile car walas.
The big winners!
There were four classes for two-wheelers and the class winners make for a commemorative picture here, glittering away in the late hours of a balmy evening in the national capital! From left is the 1938 Norton 16H of Raghuvir Singh Bhatia that won the class for pre-war classic motorcycles; next up Ashok Naidu’s highly original 1952 Jawa 250 Perak, the winner of the class of post war classics below 500cc; the gleaming silver hued bike next up is the famous ex-Jack Wilks ex-BSA India works Goldstar of Reuben Solomon which won not just the class for post war classics above 500cc but also took Best of Show accolades and final and very historic machine is the immaculately turned out 1912 Indian Light V-Twin of Subodh Nath which bagged top honours among bikes in the Veteran & Vintage Class.
1922 ROYAL ENFIELD MODEL 180
One of the great names among motorcycle collectors in the country and especially up north is Raju Sharma who had a host of machines entered in the event as is his forte every year. Amongst the few he had lined up was this spindly looking Royal Enfield Model 180 from 1922 replete with exposed flywheel, band brake on the rear wheel and cycle type brakes on the front wheel, final drive by leather belt, large footboards and an acetylene headlamp.
This tiny machine with its 250cc single cylinder mill was entered in the class for Veteran and Vintage Motorcycles and faced competition from a 1924AJS R9 of Ashish Sharma, a 1917 Douglas CW flat twin of Aman Mugal; Subodh Nath’s iconic 1912 Indian Light V-Twin and Sandeep Kapur’s fabulous 1926 AJS 798cc V-Twin.
1926 AJS V-TWIN
This is one of those great bikes that time forgot but its owner and passionate caretaker Sandeep Kapoor has been singularly nurturing for a long time. First seen at the 2016 Cartier “Travel with Style” Concours d’Elegance in Hyderabad, this bike has been the subject of a terrific restoration and every detail of it was in amazing perfection. Probably better than original in a positive manner rather than suggesting it was over-restored. The vee-twin had that phut phut phut sound from its large underslung silencer box so reminiscent of its era as it ticked whenever we asked for it to be fired up. The bike sounded as great as she looked and just as good as she rode and to see it in motion was one of the highlights of the event. Sadly it had to give best in class to another v-twin, that of Subodh Nath but if it were left to me I would have made both share the spoils in class!
1927 AJS H7 Clubmans
Now this is a well known motorcycle to many on the vintage and classic motorcycle scene in the country, having taken a raft of awards at events like the 2013 Cartier “Travel with Style” Concours d’Elegance in Mumbai; the ZigWheels Fort Jadhavgadh Heritage Drive a couple of years earlier and countless other awards in VCCCI events. Found in absolutely dismal shape and almost on the verge of rotting its way to oblivion, Jehangir Foroogh persevered and toiled his way to resurrecting this 350cc single cylinder machine that is so typical of its time where you rode to the race track on it, slapped on a competition number plate and raced before taking it off and riding home! Note the distinctive top end of the engine, the half cut starting gear, the heavily triangulated frame and the recessed fuel tank in between the top rails.
Anil Bhingarde is a well known enthusiast and bike builder based in Mumbai and while he is better known for his attempts in refurbishing classic British singles and twins, over the recent years he has taken to the other end of the world to find subjects where he could wield his art and craft. It is therefore praiseworthy that he has focused on one of the great Hondas that provided not just mere mobility to the masses in the 1960s but was also tech laden beyond anything one could look for among the European bike OEMs. The 125 Benly had a single overhead cam twin-cylinder four-stroke engine housed in a pressed-steel frame (similar to the evergreen Honda Cub). Very exquisitely turned out, this bike was a joy to behold.
BOMBAY’S BAWA BIKERS & THE JURY
For the first time in the history of this great event, a trio of Bawaji bikers from Mumbai rode in force to take on the cream of the capital on their finely honed British twins. From left to right we have that finely turned out 1947 Triumph T100 of Jazeel Mehta with yours truly followed by the 1959 Norton Dominator in wideline form of Shiraz Ginwala seen with Sanjay Tripathi (head of Hero MotoCorp’s racing team fame) while the third was the just as exquisite 1956 Triumph T110 of Xerxes Zend seen alongside none other than Triumph India’s managing director Vimal Sumbly.
Both Tripathi and Sumbly were the jury members who did the evaluation while yours truly was the chairman and played no role because this duo had their assessments spot on and I didn’t need to intervene for the casting vote in all the four classes. The fact that the event was flagged off from Delhi’s India Gate and then everyone rode out to the Ambience Greens golf course in Gurgaon also highlighted how well the bikes performed. In fact, Pune’s Reuben Solomon was so carried away that he was halfway to Jaipur before he was intercepted and brought back! Yes the event and the heat surely did this to make it a heady experience!