|A scrambler in road trim, the VAX Interceptor "S" had classy looking tank badges.|
Until recently, Jeff's advertising photography studio was located in downtown Los Angeles, not far from the former site of Cooper Motors. You can't help wondering what Cooper Motors would have been like in 1960.
The best off-road motorcycle racers in Southern California would have stopped by Cooper to check out the powerful new Royal Enfield scrambler, the 692cc Interceptor.
This was fully two years before the better remembered 750cc Interceptor would even reach the market. Fewer than 200 of the 700cc Interceptors — each labeled "VAX" on the motor — were made. Today even many fans of the Royal Enfield brand will tell you there were no Royal Enfield Interceptors before 1962; certainly none with 692cc motors. They're mistaken.
The VAX Interceptor was re-introduced to history by author Mark Cain, who restored one and wrote about it in a 2005 magazine article.
"Don't recognize it?" he asked his readers. "Neither did I."
One Interceptor expert told me the VAX was "a sales flop at the time but became a hot little number when Mark Cain publicized their rarity and created some nostalgia."
Today Jeff owns one of those rare motorcycles, an unmolested example with only 3,700 miles on it. He's restoring it with his son Mason, who is 18, in his first year of college and also busy building a cafe racer out of a 1979 Yamaha SR500.
This rare model is not as well documented as the later 750 Interceptors. There are no workshop manuals for the VAX, no parts list either. Jeff is collecting information in advance of the restoration, speaking with other Interceptor owners, and parts vendors, reading up on Interceptor and Enfield history. He knows this motorcycle was made to race, meaning there may be especially stressed bits inside the motor. What can he do to make it stronger?
|Jeff's Interceptor was left untended but not abused.|
"Purchased from family of the original owner, one of my neighbors. They were kind enough to give me and my son a chance to bring her back to her former glory and get her back on the road. Original owner was a Los Angeles resident who owned and rode several bikes. He purchased the bike new here in LA in 1960, rode it for a few years, then stored it in a shed for nearly 50 years.
"She’s dirty and greasy but the condition is quite good and she’ll clean up well. I know bikes and at first sight I knew that it was all there but would require quite a bit of work. She's got great compression and if I gassed her up and kicked her over right now, I’m sure she’d start up and run.
|"VAX" stamped on motor tells you it's special.|
"We’re fortunate to have good weather and great mountain roads surrounding Los Angeles and I ride nearly every day of the year. My ancestry is British (my Grandmother came over on the Queen Mary). I lead the Los Angeles chapter of the Brit Iron Rebels, a global club for British motorcycle culture enthusiasts with hundreds of members around the world. We ride and wrench on Brit bikes; most of us own both vintage and modern Brit bikes.
|Ever seen one of these? It held your registration.|
"A number of Interceptor experts have contacted me to provide information or to request to visit and see the bike. From what I’ve heard thus far, this bike is one of a handful of complete and original VAX Interceptors known to exist today. Other bikes have been pieced together from various machines. This bike has the original frame, engine and transmission as fitted by the factory and is like a time capsule, parked 50 years ago and now ready to live again.
|1960 VAX Interceptor "S", the view from the seat.|
You'll get a taste of what his VAX Interceptor S can expect in this short and very entertaining Brit Iron Rebels video: