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Massive ‘Barn Find’ comes to UK

Imagine the biggest barn find in the world. Hitchcocks Motorcycles, the Royal Enfield spares specialist based near Solihull, has acquired one from the USA amounting to over 180 old motorbikes, and brought it home to Britain.

Actually, it’s less of a barn find, more of a huge buyback of mostly British machines, which were exported to North America in the 1950s and ‘60s, and some before World War II.

“It was a unique opportunity in America from two different sources,” said Derek from Hitchcocks. “As well as over 180 bikes we’ve got over 50 tons of spares. Everything was shipped back in five 40-foot sea containers.”

The bikes are predominantly British singles and twins, though the promotional film does show glimpses of two-stroke Jawas as well. As you’d expect, BSA, Triumph and Norton are there in abundance, as well as Royal Enfield of course. Interestingly, some of the REs are badged as Indians, a marketing ploy used by the Redditch factory to help market its bikes in 1950s North America.

The bikes range from complete and original to basket case, Norton Commandos rubbing shoulders with BSA A65s, Triumph 250s, at least one AJS Stormer and pre-war hand-change machines. As for the spares, 50 tons amounts to a veritable mountain of just about every part you can think of. A sea of frames, over 250 wheels and tyres, 150 fuel tanks, speedometers, gearboxes…

“It’s going to be a labour of love to get all this catalogued and ready for sale,” said Derek, “and it might take months, but we are hard at work to get this done and get everything on sale.”

BMF Chair Jim Freeman, no stranger to old British bikes himself, said: “What a treasure trove! From my own experience with randomised old spares collections, the most important thing is that cataloguing process, the question, always, is ‘That’s an old piston. Yep, but what for?’ I wish them luck!”

Click to watch the Hitchcocks video. Can you spot anything you like the look of?

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top of image courtesy of Hitchcocks Motorcycles