Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Basket case Royal Enfield is worth a lot

"Royal Enfield parts bike no title year and model unknown. $400."

Everyone loves a mystery and everyone loves a bargain. So, when I saw this ad on CraigsList in the Los Angeles area, I immediately wrote the seller, offering to help identify it.

The seller, "Norm," sent pictures that would have stumped me except for the twin carburetors visible dangling inside the frame. I guessed this was the remains of a Royal Enfield Interceptor, and referred the case to Chris Overton, the best expert I know on Interceptors. He contributes to the Yahoo Royal Enfield Interceptors message board.

Chris pressed Norm for engine and frame numbers. The answers came back: "frame is 73277 and engine YC1691."

From that Chris was able to devine that "The engine was built in December, 1966 at Upper Westwood near Bradford-on-Avon, one of the first with Concentric carbs, and was one of the last installed in a frame at the Redditch factory before it closed in January 1967. Maybe a 1966 dispatch date, maybe 1967; certainly a 1967 model.

"You could say reliably that you have a 1967 Series 1A 750cc Interceptor."

Chris suspects that the frame number matches the engine but that reassembly of even this matching numbers bike is "marginal from an economic standpoint," although he has seen worse.

"My preference, as a restorer, is to see every bike shiny and noisy again," he advised Norm.

He even added that "there is an Interceptor rally again this year near the Upper Westwood factory site, hosted by ex-Enfield employees. June 11-13. I went in 2008 and plan to go again this year. You would be more than welcome. Well worth the swim. "

"To be honest all I want to do is sell it and I'm trying to figure out what to sell it for," Norm responded. "It looks like I have almost all the parts (I have four boxes of parts not in the picture — alotta rust!). Thanks for your help."

The original ad has expired, but Norm said he "got more emails than he could have imagined." He has posted a new ad, now asking $1,000. For the right person, it may still be a bargain.

I'm just happy to see the mystery solved. Thanks, Chris.

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