Tuesday, April 22, 2014

'Suicide Club' Royal Enfield is back at the Ace Cafe

Royal Enfield Constellation right back where it was in 1961.
(Mick Duckworth Photo)
London's Ace Cafe and a particular Royal Enfield motorcycle did for British cafe racers of the 1960s what Marlon Brando and "The Wild One" did for American bikers in the 1950s.

Together they made them notorious, iconic and envied.

Royal Enfield Constellation WUL 798 was pictured roaring out of the cover of the Daily Mirror Shock Issue, carrying the young rocker riding it — scarf flying — into history. The story inside the newspaper painted the Ace as the place riders gathered to go racing on London's North Circular Road.

The Ace is back in business, thanks to managing director Mark Wilsmore. Today it's better appreciated for its food, history and the opportunity to see vintage motorcycles gathering.

Incredibly, Royal Enfield WUL 798 is still at the Ace.

Mark Wilsmore was kind enough to explain how:

"The 1959 Connie with London registration WUL 798 was recognized and preserved by the late rocker, 'Southend Roger' Glover, a dear friend of mine. Following his death, I acquired the machine from the family.

"The bike has full documentation and appears largely original, apart from plastic handlebar levers. It will eventually be sympathetically restored.

"The bike appeared on the front cover of the national newspaper, the Daily Mirror in February 1961 with the title "Suicide Club," followed up inside by a five-page story by investigative journalist John Pilger and which focused on the Ace Cafe and unofficial racing on London's North Circular Road.

"The same 'Suicide Club' picture also appeared in the book 'Rockers!' by the late Johnny Stuart. Many years ago, Roger Glover showed me this book and told me that he had the bike. I was astounded and said that if he ever wanted to sell it, I would like to buy it."

A remarkable reunion.

Mark Wilsmore with the Suicide Club Royal Enfield.
(Francois Thomas Photo)

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