|The Royal Enfield Galaxy was a Super Meteor with an early Interceptor motor.|
Which left me asking: "The Royal Enfield Wh-a-a-t-t-t-?"
I'd heard of Royal Enfield Meteors, Constellations, Interceptors and even the rare VAX Interceptor (an early, 700cc forebearer of the 736cc Interceptor to come).
But what was a Galaxy?
The Royal Enfield Galaxy turns out to have been a powerful parallel twin motorcycle dispatched to the United States starting in about 1959. (Coincidentally, Ford introduced the Galaxie car in the U.S. during 1959. Space was on people's minds back then.)
Graham Scarth, chairman of the Royal Enfield Owners Club UK, endeavored to explain the Galaxy to me.
The REOC-UK has the ledger books from the Redditch, England factory. Graham's own careful research has expanded on these to give a better idea of what Royal Enfield was doing, back in the day.
"Galaxy was a USA specific model and there are none recorded as such in the Redditch ledgers," he wrote. But he has sussed out the engine numbers the Galaxy would have carried, so he knows one when he sees its engine number.
To help me, Graham attached to his email several pages of a brochure entitled "1961 Special Models for U.S.A." It was originally distributed by Cooper Motors, 5832 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, Calif.
The leaflet's focus is on the big Royal Enfied twins of the day, which it touts as the "World's LARGEST and MOST POWERFUL Vertical Twins."
The pamphlet opens with the hot new "Interceptor 'S' Sports 700cc — 52 hp." It notes that this motorcycle comes with "quick detachable headlight" and chrome steel fenders and "can easily be converted for cross country competition."
Turning the page we come to "Super Meteor and Galaxy." It is explained that "The Super Meteor is designed for the discriminating road rider who prefers conventional trim. Has valenced fenders (painted) and nacelle type headlight."
Oh, yeah: and we learn later that it has a 46 horsepower motor.
If you want the full 52 hp motor of the Interceptor, but are the kind of "discriminating road rider" who wants a proper nacelle on his Royal Enfield, there is also a model for you: it's called the Galaxy.
That's it in a nutshell. The Galaxy was an early 700cc Interceptor with traditional Royal Enfield looks. Or, looked at another way, the Galaxy was a Super Meteor in appearance, with an Interceptor motor.
Americans, being Americans, probably did want those chrome steel fenders, though. There's no denying that the Interceptor cuts a much sharper figure in its picture.
And, in fact, there was yet another way to get those racy looking fenders if you wanted them. The leaflet also lists the 700cc Constellation, which came with the 52 hp motor, chrome sport fenders and — a nacelle.
Choice — and, perhaps, confusion — abounded.
Maybe that's why the Galaxy doesn't enjoy instant name recognition today.