Pinch Me: 2018 Barber Vintage Festival


Colin Seeley
Master frame builder and former Isle of Man racer Colin Seeley with Randy Baxter’s circa-1973 Seeley-framed Triumph Trident.

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 an absolutely perfect 1982 Triumph Bonneville Royal? Did I really hang out with former Ducati-riding 1977 Daytona Superbike winner Cook Neilson? Yeah, I did, and you might have too if you were at the 14th Annual Barber Vintage Festival.

We haven’t seen any official attendance numbers, but we’d expect 2018 attendance to be about even with the past few years, meaning roughly 60,000-plus vintage bike fans on hand. That number is actually even more impressive when you consider this year’s weather; insufferably hot and humid on Friday and Saturday, and with absolutely zero air movement. The only reason we survived was thanks to Alabama resident and friend of the magazine Howard Boone, who after Friday’s intense heat returned on Saturday morning with a generator, a huge shop fan and two stand up fans to push air through our tent. Wow. Talk about going above and beyond — you saved us, Howard!

Ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3
The Rob Iannucchi/Team Obsolete ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3.

The featured marque at Saturday’s Motorcycle Classics Vintage Bike Show was BSA/Triumph triples, and we were treated to a nice selection of bikes, including a pair of 1969 BSA Rocket 3s and a half-dozen Triumph Tridents, plus two very special machines: the Rob Iannucchi/Team Obsolete ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3, a historically important machine recently restored to running condition by Iannucchi, and a Seeley-framed Triumph Trident owned by Randy Baxter of Baxter Cycle. Brian Slark of the Barber Museum and Mark Mederski of the National Motorcycle Museum helped judge the bikes, and Colin Seeley personally handed out our top award for Best Triumph/BSA Triple, which went to Baxter for his circa-1973 Seeley. One of no more than four built by Seeley himself, it’s possibly the only running survivor. And run it did, as Randy Baxter proved, firing it up with a push-start to the thrill of everyone there. The sound it makes is glorious, a sound I’d planned on sharing here — and would have if I’d actually hit “record” when I set my phone to video mode.

Randy Baxter on his Seeley-Triumph
Volunteers giving Randy Baxter a push to fire up his Seeley-Triumph; what a glorious noise.

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