1954 BSA Star Twin Racer Replica
Wrecking Crew Redux: Kenny Eggers recreates his race-winning 1954 BSA Star Twin
Kenny Eggers' Wrecking Crew replica is spot-on, and frankly almost impossible to tell from the original he raced for BSA in 1954.
Photo by Stephen Jacobson
BSA Star Twin Racer (1954)
Claimed power: 31bph @ 6,000 rpm (factory rating, racer would be higher)
Top speed: 123.69 mph – speed trials at Bonneville, 1951
Engine type: Air-cooled, overhead valve four-stroke parallel twin, two valves per cylinder
"The BSA Wrecking Crew was Al Gunter, Dick Klamfoth, Bobby Hill and me, all originally on rigid frame Star Twins, and Gene Thiessen and Tommy McDermott on singles. BSA only made four of the rigid frame twins, and shipped them over for Daytona. We had to safety wire everything, and then we started testing them on the Jungle Road, testing for top revs. Cyril Halliburton, the British BSA tuner, was there to make sure everything worked properly.
"Hap Alzina, the US importer, took care of us and paid all our expenses. We were staying at a big hotel on the beach, and we had a candlelight dinner every night. That was NOT how racers were treated in those days. Usually, you had to pay your own way." — Kenny Eggers, Wrecking Crew member
In 1954, and for many years previously, BSA, based in England's industrial Midlands, was one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Most of its customers were a type of motorcycle rider that has almost disappeared from the road. The typical BSA rider of the era wanted reliability, economy, and ease of maintenance, and was uninterested in performance. Fifty miles an hour was fine as long as the old scoot started up every morning and got the owner to work.
The one exception to the dull but reliable output of the BSA company was the Gold Star 500cc single, introduced in 1937 and a mainstay of amateur racing until it was discontinued in 1963. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, BSA faced new challenges. England had huge debts, and needed to export as much as possible to pay them, so all English companies were prodded to sell overseas. There was an expanding market in the United States, but most Americans had expectations of a motorcycle that were completely different from those of the traditional BSA rider.
American customers wanted acceleration and speed. "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday." was a popular slogan with American dealers. While European customers babied their bikes, Americans thrashed theirs. Most European riders were happy with small singles, but American customers wanted large capacity twins. The BSA executives decided (probably very, very reluctantly) that if they wanted to increase sales, they would have to go racing. Even so, BSA left most of the race effort to its American distributors.
BSA started developing a vertical twin before World War II, which was intended at first to be just as reliable and boring as the rest of the lineup. The first 495cc machines were ready for sale by September 1946. Bore and stroke of the new A7 was 62 x 82 mm. The single camshaft, operating pushrod actuated valves, was located at the rear of the cylinders. The four speed foot shift gearbox was bolted to the rear of the crankcase, in "semi-unit" construction. Cylinders and heads were cast iron. It produced 26 horsepower at 6000 rpm.
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