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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Girl in Royal Enfield ad revealed more than she knew

Racy looking ad for the 1970 Royal Enfield Interceptor.
But the ad copy was about the motorcycle, not the girl!
Royal Enfield waited until 1969 to enter the Swingin' Sixties. It did so with an impressive new motorcycle, the Interceptor Mark II. It was so hot it had an oil cooler as standard equipment. And atop the new motorcycle perched a young woman in hot pants.

Revolutionary!

For one thing, she was real a woman. The ad featured a photograph instead of the idealized drawing of wife or girlfriend in previous Royal Enfield ads of the postwar era.

This woman was young, frightfully slim, long legged and long haired; attractive in the ways the youth culture of the day valued pretty women. A "bird" in Britain, a "chick" in the U.S. But in some ways, she was more.

For one thing her smile looked sincere, instead of vacant. She seemed, oddly, engaged in what she was doing. She is girl-next-door relaxed and at home despite the knee length boots and uncomfortable posture.

Maybe this was because she actually knew where she was, and what a Royal Enfield Interceptor was.

Royal Enfield enthusiast Chis Overton, of Canada, was 17 when he first saw the ad.

"I recall thinking 'the RE managers are going cheap and trying to do their own ads.  I bet the model is someone’s daughter.'

Norton models of the time were in full color and professionally made up.
Smarmy ad copy suggested the motorcycle wasn't all you'd get to ride.
"Actually, the model worked in the office and had some experience modelling. She was married to one of the production workers.

"A few years ago she was still living in Bath. Maurice Mumford (former Royal Enfield employee and a fellow member of the Royal Enfield Interceptor Owners Group) knew her and I asked him to invite her to one of our rallies. She declined."

Yes, it was a bargain basement ad shoot. At the time, Norton was using color photos of professional models for its "Norton Girls" ads. BSA had cheesy color ads of girls in bikinis at the beach.

Royal Enfield's model was just a local girl who was willing to pose on a motorcycle in the Shipping Department, never expecting her image would survive half a century on the Internet.

The full photo is on the Burton Bike Bits website.
Looks like she's having a lark, as a day off work might be.
"We Only Supply the Bike," was the ad copy. In the ad you couldn't really see what was behind her. But the full photos are on the Burton Bike Bits website and they tell a detailed story. The background is shipping crates full of Interceptors, with some numbers visible.

Overton has figured out what the numbers mean.

"The only crate number clear in the ad is 1740, which would not have been significant other than, by the time I saw the (full) photo, I owned  No. 1734 and serial numbers were on my mind," he wrote.

"The wall is 10 crates wide and four crates high. It is probable the 40 crates comprise 1704 to 1746, with 1711, 1712, and 1732 missing from the sequence because they were shipped in early July and never stockpiled," Overton wrote the Interceptor Owners Group.

"Most of the bikes went to Canada and I have seen at least six of them, including my 1734, Ole's 1743 at the bottom left, and two bikes that belong to a single collector in Vancouver. They were all crated on 4, 11, and 18 July, 1969.

"Bill Bath owns 1711 which was shipped to Elite with 1712. When Bill moved to Houston, Texas the bike was returned to the factory in August and re-crated. He subsequently destroyed the engine landing jumps, and replaced the engine. No. 1712 may have stayed in the UK. No. 1732 went to a well known dealer in Vancouver, BC.

"For the left half of the wall, enough numbers show, and in sequence, that I have high confidence in the numbers of the crates. Numbers are not legible in the right half but, after seeing Maurice's Westwood ledgers, it is a reasonable assumption the number sequence goes down to 1704 in the bottom right corner. Long explanation — trust me.

"If the number sequence holds, two bikes in the seventh column from the left are in Canada. Full dispatch data exists for the left half, with the next two columns going to Alberta Cycle but no date, and the last three columns no destination, dealer or date."

Second shot was racier still, with model wearing  Royal Enfield tank badges.
"Go Interceptor" poster has been added behind her.
Remarkable. But — excuse me, who was that young woman?

Maurice remembers that her married name was Marlene Moor. She has since passed away, he told the Interceptor Owners Group.

Her image lives on. And, if Royal Enfield in India ever does decide to introduce a successor worthy of the Interceptor name, you can expect her photos to turn up everywhere. Look-a-like contest, anyone?

Hers will be a tough act to follow.

3 comments:

  1. Nice story! Now, let's see some new serial numbers on crates with new twins inside.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was a great story, David. Really enjoyed it, and had never heard of this before. I don't know the Norton girl(s) or the BSA girl(s), but was familiar with them. Great detective work on the numbers, too. Makes me want to go check the number on my machine and perhaps it's in the photo too.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You can buy the Genuine NOS Go Interceptor posters here! http://britishbikebits.com/royal-enfield-go-interceptor-retro-vintage-poster-1968-unused-25-x30-5#.VxEH2nqPZHI

    ReplyDelete

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