1968 Royal Enfield Interceptor
England's Forgotten Twin
It’s the mid-1960s, and you’re on the hunt for a British Big Twin. Looking at the usual suspects, you click them off in your mind as you ponder your options. Triumph Bonneville? Check. BSA Lightning? Check. Norton Atlas? Check. Enfield Interceptor? Enfield? Yes, Enfield.
Jim Stothard wasn’t looking for a Royal Enfield when he discovered his boss had one. “I was really looking for a Bonneville,” he says. In fact, he wasn’t even sure what an Enfield was. But for some reason, the idea of buying it wouldn’t go away.
The Interceptor had sat in a garage for years, after some ham-fisted wrenching had cross-threaded a spark plug. “I kept joking with my boss, asking when he was going to sell me the Interceptor. One day he said ‘right now,’” Jim recalls.
A deal was done. Jim borrowed the company truck, gathered a few buddies, bought a couple of cases of beer, and the Interceptor was shoehorned up a flight of stairs and into Jim’s third floor apartment.
When Jim got the Enfield 20-odd years ago, British bikes weren’t exactly in favor, with parts scarce and advice even scarcer. One local motorcycle dealer even warned Jim not to bring the bike anywhere near his shop!
Fortunately, he stumbled across Vancouver’s British Motorcycle Owners’ Club, and he was able to enlist a number of members to help out with parts and wrenching advice. Jim duly set to reverse the decay that the passing of time had wreaked, rebuilding much of the bike in his living room. Before he knew it, it was time to see if the Interceptor would start.
Some more buddies, a few more six-packs, and the Interceptor was out of the apartment and back on pavement. With fresh oil in the engine, fresh gas in the tank and a new battery, the bike coughed after a few kicks and was soon running. But blistering chrome on the exhaust headers signaled something wasn’t quite right. Jim handed the bike to another BMOC member, who rebuilt the carbs and re-set the timing, and soon the Interceptor was running like a top. “It’s been flawless ever since,” says Jim. “Apart from a couple of coil wires breaking, I’ve never had a breakdown.”
The engine has 44,000 miles on the original bores, but Jim suspects the pistons may have been replaced early in the bike’s life. He replaced the exhaust valves a few years back, but the rest of the engine has never been apart, and in spite of some mechanical rattles, it runs reliably and cleanly. And the bellow that pours out from the scantily-lined Campbell silencers when Jim winds it up can curdle milk and stampede cattle.
It’s a tribute to Jim’s spit ‘n’ polish that the bike looks as beautiful as it does: You can see your face in the carbs, a real achievement given Mr. Amal’s rough, die-cast zinc alloy. The Mk1A “TT” model that Jim owns left the factory with plenty of chrome to begin with — fork ears, headlight, gas tank — and Jim’s polishing efforts have created a real eye-popper.
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