A thumping good restoration

Pete Kelly visits Velocette enthusiast Derek Manders to see his latest pride and joy – a green 1955 MSS that he bought as a 70% complete project at Bonhams’ Spring 2016 Stafford auction and which he has just finished restoring in the MAC form in which it originally left the Hall Green factory.

Looking at Derek Manders’ rebuilt 350cc Velocette from the ‘best side’, it’s immediately apparent just how much work has gone into its restoration.

Derek Manders started motorcycling at the age of 16 on a second-hand 1959 175cc BSA Bantam that he bought himself for the princely sum of £15. This was quickly followed by a 250cc BSA C15 of the same vintage, then an ex-War Department BSA M20 side-valve machine.

By 1973 he was working in motorcycle shops in Lincoln, first with F K Sharpe on the High Street, and later with nearby F Portas & Son. His duties included servicing, building up bikes from their import crates, driving the vans and anything else that came along.

Derek couldn’t wait to get his Velocette to the Newark Winter Show.

By then, of course, we were well into the Japanese era, and he remembers dealing with various Hondas, Suzukis and Yamahas, and especially scores of Yamaha ‘Fizzies’ which were, of course, the accepted learner ‘pose’ of the day. His favourite bikes of the time, though, were the air-cooled BMW flat twins.

Lots to ride

Derek rode a BSA A10 sidecar outfit for a while, and had a Honda 70 for commuting, but when you worked for a bike dealership there were always plenty of bikes to ride anyway.

The view from the handlebars, with a brand new speedometer and everything polished to perfection.

As life progressed, he went virtually without motorcycles for a good 20 to 25 years, but when he reached his mid-fifties his enthusiasm was re-awakened, and with 60 knocking on the doorstep he decided to have another go, buying a 1964 Triumph Bonneville that he’d known since it was three years old. The Bonnie came in a box of bits, and Derek was two-thirds of the way through rebuilding it when, about six years ago, his first chance of owning a Velocette – a 1964 500cc MSS – came along so the Triumph had to go.

“I’ve always liked big singles,” he said, “and I’d always been quite fond of Velos. I had expected the riding position to feel strange – you sit on top of Velocettes rather than in them – but in the event I felt at home in no time at all.”

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