Restoring a 1966 BSA 441 Victor


Beat Me Again Please!
Or why I restored a 1966 BSA 441 Victor

Do you need professional help? Would a 12-step program be a good idea for you? Are you certifiable? Well, if you own a British car, one or more of the above would certainly apply. Why else would you spend countless hours dealing with the quirks of British motorcars and fighting the devil spawn LUCAS? Hopefully you will continue to avoid the men in white coats who think you should be confined and to convince society that you are pretty much “normal.”

Sooooo, if working on a British car does not satisfy your masochistic tendencies, and pulling your fingernails out at the root does not add the additional pain you desire, what do you do? Well, you can do as I do and try British motorcycle restoration! Ahh, the hunt for a suitable project at a suitable price in suitable condition, very similar to the hunt for that magical automotive restoration. Do these sound familiar? “barn find”, “ran fine when parked”, “easy restoration”, “just needs a little TLC”, “rare”, “not many of these made”, “chance of a lifetime”, “true classic”, “finest example out there”, and on and on. Well, I found my latest motorcycle restoration on eBay about a year ago. It is a 1966 BSA 441 Victor, sometimes referred to fondly as a 441 Victim.

I restored a 1970 Victor, er Victim, about 10 years ago and sold it to buy a new driveway. In fact, most of my motorcycle and car restorations had to be sold to buy braces, MRI’s, food, clothing, insurance, and of course tuition. The 1966 was the first-year production model, a so-called “round barrel” engine and presumable very desirable. 

The BSA Victor has a proud heritage, starting life as a motocross bike that was world champion in 1964 and 1965. This was back in the day when a big 4-stroke single could be competitive. The owner lived about 25 miles from me and had purchased the motorcycle at an auction in Reno, Nev., a couple years prior. The bike was proudly described as “restored, never had fluids in it, ready to run” and looked pretty good on the surface. The owner had never tried to start it and grew tired of using it to gather dust in his garage. We struck a deal and I expected to spend a couple hundred dollars to get it up and running and roadworthy … RIGGGGHHHHT! Silly me, you would think after doing three MGB’s and countless motorcycles the optimism would have been driven entirely out of me, however, I am a glass half full guy, so off on another adventure in British land. 

1966 BSA 441 Victor 

3/4/2014 11:23:02 AM

Sounds so familiar. My winter project this year was a 1969 BSA 441 Victor Special. I purchased the bike for $200. Even though it had no major mechanical issues, I spent about $4000 in restoration costs to get it right. I went through two kick starter rubbers before I figured out that the Sparks electronic ignition instruction were not correct. Its now starting fine. For some strange reason, all of these irritations binds you closer to these bikes.

Kevin Lemire
2/24/2013 9:16:05 PM

I previously did a 70 Victor restoration but had to sell it to put a new driveway in....sigh

Kevin Lemire
2/24/2013 9:15:25 PM

True enough....amazing I am still sane after 30 years as as a nuke....well, maybe I'm not come to think of it!

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