Barber Vintage Festival 2018

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Former sidecar racer and frame builder Colin Seeley at our show with Randy Baxter’s Seeley-framed Triumph Trident.
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Randy Baxter gets a push firing up his Seeley-framed Trident — what a glorious noise!
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Frank Lipinski, Editors’ Choice, 1982 Triumph T140ES Royal.
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Rick Schaeffer, Best Restored British, 1937 Triumph Tiger 90.
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Dana Narkunas, Best Restored European, 1980 Laverda Jota.
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Best Rider European went to Chelle Fritz and her dad, Skip, who restored Skip’s dad’s 300,000-plus mile, owned from new 1976 BMW R90S.
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Kim and Tom Shipp, Best Restored American, 1970 Harley-Davidson Sprint SS350.
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Gary Gornati, Best Restored Japanese, 1986 Yamaha FZ750.
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Donnie Ables, Best Rider Japanese, 1978 Kawasaki KZ650R.
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Shad Alexander, Best Custom, 1980 Honda CX500C.
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Fanciful Aqua-Naught tripped up viewers.
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Team Obsolete’s incredible ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3 is history on wheels.
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Riders hang out before suiting up for our Sunday Morning Ride with sponsor Hagerty Motorcycle Insurance.
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Rick’s Motorsport Electrics’ Rick Shaw explaining vintage Japanese electrics.
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$3,500 coffin-tank Triumph in the swap meet.
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Nice Vincent Grey Flash replicas in the paddock.
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A rare sight anywhere, a Douglas twin offered at the swap meet.
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Want a fast Honda Monkey bike? Put a CB350F 4-cylinder in it!
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Have you ever actually seen anyone ride a Honda Motocompo? The smile says it all.
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Lewis Meyer with his original — “it's had a couple cables replaced” — running, 1923 Ner-A-Car. Said Lewis of the single rear brake after almost hitting our tent, “It's inadequate and awkward to operate.”
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Nice lineup of vintage Japanese bikes at the VJMC show area included a pair of very clean CB350F Fours flanking a CL450 twin.
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Steve McQueen’s 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross, which he rode in Bruce Brown’s On Any Sunday, sold for an incredible $230,500 at Bonhams’ Barber auction.
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A restored 1974 Ducati 750SS went for $137,000. (All prices include buyer’s premium.)
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Powered by a water-cooled 2-stroke square four, this 1984 Buell RW750, the second Buell ever and the first sold to a customer, went for $60,000.
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Original condition, 5,000-mile Honda VFR750R/RC30 sold for $27,025.
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A 1953 Vincent Comet briefly owned by Steve McQueen went for $63,250 and one of his old Bell helmets commanded $21,875.
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A “pudding basin” helmet worn by Mike Hailwood went for $3,750; a set of his leathers fetched $16,875.

Another record is in the books following the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival, Oct. 5-7, with event organizer ZOOM Motorsports pegging total attendance at just under 80,000. This year’s festival actually felt smaller to us than the last two, but whatever the case there’s no questioning Barber’s status as the biggest vintage motorcycle event in the U.S., with more going on than you can hope to take in during the three-day festival. Event Grand Marshal Colin Seeley was hosted at Friday night’s Motorcycles by Moonlight museum fundraiser, and he graciously made time to swing by the Motorcycle Classics tent on Saturday, sharing stories of his remarkable career in sidecar racing and frame building with the crowd gathered for our show awards ceremony.

Seeley presented our Best Triple award, honoring the 3-cylinder offerings from Triumph/BSA that were introduced in 1968, which appropriately enough went to Triumph specialist Randy Baxter for his fantastic circa-1973 Seeley-framed Triumph Trident, one of only three or four made by Seeley. Visibly moved by the warm and enthusiastic reception of fans, the humble Seeley seemed truly amazed at just how revered he is in the classic bike community.

The Triumph/BSA triple contingent was predictably strong, with numerous Tridents and Rocket 3s on hand, including the surprise visit of Team Obsolete’s ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3. The Barber Museum’s Brian Slark and the National Motorcycle Museum’s Mark Mederski once again helped with judging.

Our Editors’ Choice award went to Frank Lipinski, who showed his unrestored 1982 Triumph Royal, one of only 50 made. The next day, Lipinski rode the Royal on our Sunday Morning Ride, and afterward, apparently taking leave of his senses, encouraged me to take it for a spin. Often maligned, the Meriden-built Triumphs were and are great motorcycles, with loads of torque and a fabulous, throaty roar emanating from their twin pipes. I didn’t want to hand it back.

Our technical seminars included an examination of vintage Japanese electrical systems led by Rick Shaw of Rick’s Motorsport Electrics, and an inside look at vintage motorcycle suspensions with Matt Wiley of Race Tech Suspension. As always there was great AHRMA road racing on the 2.4-mile Barber track, along with AHRMA vintage motocross and trials racing in the surrounding woods of the 740-acre Barber Motorsports Park. This year’s swap meet was the biggest yet, expanding into the Porsche Sport Driving School and Mercedes Benz Proving Grounds, and the variety of parts and complete bikes for sale – ranging from fresh field finds to restored runners – was simply amazing. The Ace Corner returned to Turn 17, and the AMCA and VJMC held their annual shows off the perimeter road across from the museum.

Bonhams held its first-ever Barber auction in the museum on Saturday, selling the featured ex-Steve McQueen 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross for an astounding $230,500. A spectacular and rare 1928 Windhoff powered by an overhead cam, 746cc inline four sold for the same money, but the auction headliner, the second Vincent Black Lightning built, failed to find a new owner.

The Barber Vintage Festival is always something of a pinch-me event. Did all that really happen? Did I really meet and talk to famed frame builder Colin Seeley? Did I really ride a perfect 1982 Triumph Bonneville Royal? Did I really hang out with former Ducati-riding 1977 Daytona Superbike winner Cook Neilson? Yeah, I really did, and you might have, too, if you’d been there.

Special thanks to sponsors Spectro Performance Oils, Pecard Leather Care, S100 and Hagerty Motorcycle Insurance for helping to make it all happen. See you next year. MC

Published on Dec 11, 2018

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