Sunday, June 28, 2009

Trio of great Royal Enfields going on sale

The first of a remarkable collection of Royal Enfield big twins is up for sale on eBay. It is a 1965 Royal Enfield TT Interceptor, one of 979 built, the seller says. He goes on to advise that "a buyer should have grown up with British motorcycles, kick starting and shifting on the right side." That is a refreshing change from the usual eBay warning that the buyer should not be a deadbeat!

William T. Bolstad of Kalispell, Mont., was nice enough to tell me a little bit about his Royal Enfields and his "long time relationship with British motorcycles."

It started "in 1956 when I rode my first motorcycle while a freshman at UCLA, an AJS 33CS (if I remember correctly). My first motorcycle was a 1966 Triumph 500, maybe the 500SC high pipe model—could not afford a Bonneville. I rode it a few years including a few falls in the desert.

"I took a break from motorcycles to race ocean racing sailboats out of Long Beach, including a third in the 1973 La Paz race. I also restored a 1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL roadster and did well in various car shows—a seriously fast car.

"I moved to Montana and started restoring old British motorcycles including Triumphs—Bonnevilles, TT's and Tridents—also, Norton N-15CS and P-11 Ranger.

"I always had wanted a Royal Enfield as they were a finely built OLD BRIT. (In 1997) I found an ad for the blue 1965 TT located in New York and bought it. What a pleasure when it arrived, everything I could have hoped and expected. A bit of a learning process to figure the combination for starting a cold engine, but had it running within an hour after unloading from the delivery van. I rode it in Montana a few summers, including the Going-to-the-Sun Highway (Glacier Park). Had to wait, upon occasion, for friends on their Triumphs."

This is the motorcycle for sale now on eBay. Bolstad says it was totally restored by Essex Motorsports in Darian, Conn. at a cost (in 1993-'94) of $12,000. Bolstad is only its second owner. Mileage now totals about 16,340 miles.

"I have ridden this motorcycle 1,934 miles and it performs perfectly. I have had the magneto rebuilt and replaced the original points with adjustable points from a Vincent. Tires are Metzlers and are as new, paint is perfect (no dings/scratches) chrome, fenders, wheels, mufflers perfect, tachometer and speedometer work as they should, as does the ammeter. Excellent oil pressure.

"Oil could use changing," he allows—again, not your usual eBay ad!

Bolstad says he is selling because age has taken its toll, but he rode the motorcycle this week, after not having started it for two years. "Put in a new battery tickled both carburetors and three-four kicks and the Interceptor started... Rode it down the road and back and the shifting was clean and crisp as it should be."

How did he end up with more than one Royal Enfield?

"I figured if one Royal Enfield was good two would be better. I found a restored/rebuilt 1966 Interceptor in Ontario, Canada and bought it. A bit of an issue getting it across the border—seller had to drive it to Niagara Falls and put it on a truck to Montana, where it arrived safely. Another very nice Interceptor and RED this time. I varied my riding between the two, equally fun to ride. I continued to restore other motorcycles, mostly Triumphs, and then I found the 1960 Super Meteor on eBay, in January, 2002."

And that's where the story he describes as "obsession" begins.

The Super Meteor was in Australia. Bolstad bought it and had it shipped to a friend in Long Beach, Calif. There it was uncrated, gas and oil were checked, and it started in just a couple kicks.

"I live in Northwestern Montana; the Super Meteor was in Southern California; and the parts were in England. Through this triangulation and the overall project many new friendships began."

The fenders were rusted with extra holes to fill, nuts had been forced onto studs and some were rusted on. None were saved. In a bid to make it "better than new," Bolstad was "faxing orders to England weekly like some purchasing clerk."

"The restoration had taken on signs of a mission/obsession, not a hobby," Bolstad says.

He discovered the Super Meteor had been delivered to London in January, 1960 as a side car model painted polychromatic burgundy. How it got to Australia he doesn't know. It is now better than new, with paint, chrome, cad plated nuts and bolts and "excess polishing."

They're all beautiful bikes. It's great that Bolstad is sharing them with the world, and their stories, too.


  1. Anonymous6/13/2010

    Hi David.
    I came across this blog posting while on Burton Bike Bits site. Bill Bolstad bought the red 66 Interceptor from me about 11 or 12 years ago. I got it from a chap in Lockport New york about 10 or 12 years before then, after selling my 58 Constellation. When I got it, it had about 7k miles on it and was still on the original tires. It was still dead stock original when I sold it to Bill and unfortunately he had it painted and polished. It was too nice for that and I think immediately lowered it's value. I sold it at that time because I also had a Series 2 Interceptor, which I still own.
    I have always liked the classy looks of the first series Interceptors so 2 years ago I picked up a red 65 in Carlsbad NM and have it running and back to original condition. It had not been started for about 25 years so now leaks and smokes a bit from the left pot. I will likely take the engine down this fall for a rebuild.
    I don't know a lot about the new bullets but enjoy reading your blog
    Niagara Falls

  2. Don, thank you for your comment. That's interesting background.

  3. Matt Law2/29/2012

    Found this post while researching 1959 Super Meteors for my 1959 Indian Chief restoration...every picture is worth 1000 words...I must owe you 1,000,000...keep up the good work!


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