Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Great old ads in Vintage Motorcycle Art Archive

Royal Enfield: The motorcycle that excels all others.
My favorite source for fantastic vintage Royal Enfield and other old-time motorcycle advertisements is now the Vintage Motorcycle Art Archive on Flickr.

Created by "bullittmcqueen" it contains 2,153 ads and artwork of familiar makes such as Triumph, BSA, Harley-Davidson and Indian and others less familiar (Ardie, Iver Johnson, Raliegh, Reading Standard).

Surprisingly, even Brough Superior found it wise to place carefully illustrated advertisements.

Artwork in the Vintage Motorcycle Art Archive dates nearly from the invention of the motorcycle through the postwar period.

Forward with Borgward.
Being period pieces, it's not surprising — but a bit chilling — to find a few examples celebrating the usefulness of motorcycles to the Third Reich. They really did celebrate the image of the Wehrmacht breaking through a flaming city behind motorcycle sidecar outfits.

More reassuring is a 1941 Ariel advertisement depicting workers in the background removing glass from showroom windows (to save it from the Blitz) as a rider in the foreground ponders the peaceful roads to come in a victorious Britain.

Browsing through the archive, some trends are pretty clear: the duller the motorcycle, the more expensive looking the advertisement.

Racing victories are touted but, lacking that, just add a pretty girl. Ariel (not Norton!) seems most reliably to go with a girl.

This one would never have gotten past MY editors.
Some slogans are a bit doubtful: "Rudge don't trudge."

Royal Enfield motorcycles "excel all others."
Another surprise is how often Royal Enfield claims its motorcycles excel all others. That's "excel," not just the familiar "By Miles the Best." Indeed!

For most makers, though, just evoking that mythic and undefinable spirit of motorcycling is a splendid fallback position!

Fantastic browsing.

Royal Enfield motorcycles "reign supreme."

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