Friday, July 13, 2018

Asleep for decades, Royal Enfield Constellation shines anew

Hidden away for almost half a century, this
1959 Royal Enfield Constellation is back in the sunlight.
In 2016 Dave, of Staffordshire, England, sent me photos of a very unusual Royal Enfield. It was a 1993 Bullet he had purchased with a 700cc Royal Enfield twin-cylinder motor in it instead of the usual 500cc single.

Although happy with that project, Dave hinted that he already had something else in the works. He has just announced that it's finished.

It's a 1959 Royal Enfield Constellation.

"I wasn't joking when I said about restoring another twin and this one is something a little special," Dave wrote.

"Purchased in 1959 by a colonel in the army she spent all her time at the base only having three annual MOT tests. Her final road use was 1974, tucked away from that point at the back of a garage. Sadly the owner passed away leaving it to his son in about 1998. He had started to restore some parts before he must have given up and back into hibernation for 18 years.

"We roll forward to 2016, workshop awaiting the next project, cats awaiting next seat to sleep on! A trip with my son 'Meatball' to our main Royal Enfield dealer after a tip-off that a Constellation had surfaced.

"Before" photo of the Constellation as purchased.
"She stood, rust, dust and cobwebs but beautiful to my eye. Meatball's input at this point was 'dad just buy it!' That had me handing over a large amount of beer tokens and with plenty of banter, I sealed the deal!

"A couple of weeks later an envelope arrived through the post — history!

"The speedometer read just over 5,000 miles, this can't be genuine; it was. Only two owners from new...

"Two years down the road and only spare time available for restoring her she is finally back on the road after 44 years of sleeping.

Old chain guard (bottom) held against new paint
shows color match.
"The color is as close to the original as I could match. The underside of the gas tank had been coated with waxy rust proofer, the type that comes off easily with some gasoline and a cloth. Beneath this was a beautiful coat of paint that has probably never seen the light of day.

"That's the color; mine looks more vibrant as it's new paint. Plenty of time spent with rubbing compound and over 20 coats of wax polish (original 1970s Turtlewax) makes her look fantastic.

Dave preferred the painted mudguards to plated, for a bit different look.
Stout Bullet center stand replaced worn alloy stand for easier lifting.
"Performance wise she pulls like a train, way more power than the early Meteor. This may be down to the better crank and the racing cams that are fitted. Definitely puts a huge smile on your face when you hit the gas!

"The brakes are much to be desired, that twin drum front takes a big effort on the lever but the rear is good and she comes to a stop quite well.

"Oh to add she has a name too: 'Poppy' after our smallest black cat!

Dave says the low mileage Constellation will now get "good use"
but only occasionally, as other projects keep him busy.
"Just when I thought I can’t buy any more another 700 twin appears, so the bench is now covered in the next installment of Royal Enfield history but that's another story!"

This time, at least, Dave has let us in on what the new project might be: "Super Meteor 700 from 1957; she has been asleep since 1973 but soon to be awake again!"


  1. Terrific story and a terrific bike. I hope Rod Copes and Sid Lal are reading this as the Constellation should be the 3rd incarnation of machines with the new twin. I'm surprised we haven't been teased with it already.

  2. What a story. The find of dreams!


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