Friday, July 23, 2021

Selling a Royal Enfield: how do you sell love?

Royal Enfield Interceptor circa 1970.
The Royal Enfield Interceptor Series 2 looked the part.

A "rather dramatic write up," sniffed one member of the Royal Enfield Interceptor forum after reading a recent CraigsList ad for a Royal Enfield Interceptor built in Britain.

The seller described the "1971" Series 2 Interceptor as "a 56-horsepower, 120-mph twin."

The "ad is full of salesman's claims," one bemused Royal Enfield enthusiast wrote me. 

"The 120-mph Interceptor 750 was a Series 1 (that I suspect had some extra attention from the factory, and the 'A' special inlet cam sprocket). There were expectations of over 110 mph, but 120 mph would have been an exceptionally good engine. 

"Fifty-six horsepower existed in the minds of the advertisers working for the USA distributors; the factory was happy if their engines achieved 49 hp. The factory finalized shipments of bikes... in 1970, so there is no '1971' model," he wrote.

It doesn't matter, of course. Not many collectors or restorers would ride 120 mph, or try to exact maximum horsepower from a 50-year-old vintage motorcycle, with its drum brakes.

And besides, my amused enthusiast noted, the "ad is true to the form of the day. If they fibbed then, he can fib now."

That's another way of saying that the history of these motorcycles is well established. The time worn hyperbole still might puff up a buyer when he shows the motorcycle to friends. True or not, it's part of the legend of the mighty Royal Enfield Interceptor. Boasting rights come with the purchase.

But anyone knowledgeable enough in the first place to consider purchasing such a motorcycle is not going to be bamboozled by the wording of a CraigsList ad.

"Exaggerated as his figures may be, they won't impress anyone who is looking for big numbers," I replied. "I'm sure there are by now many less expensive used motorcycles that will better them easily."

Now that I think about it, what was the seller supposed to write in the ad? Take out all the empty boasts and all that's left are the words "excellent running bike."

Some CraigsList sellers simply write "if you're reading this, you know what it is," and name their price. 

There's not much poetry in that. Don't these treasured objects deserve more adoration?

I've never sold a vintage Royal Enfield Interceptor. But I recently attempted (and failed) to sell two living room end tables on Facebook Marketplace.

Faced with writing the ad I found myself describing why I loved the tables for their vintage looks. They reminded me of the kinds of furniture found in the elevator lobbies of grand old hotels. Never really designed to be used, these had only three jobs: to be inoffensive, easy to clean, and indestructible.

Trouble is, I had to admit, my wife found the tables offensive, for exactly those reasons. So they had to go, cheap, and fast.

It was a mixed message and, while many expressed interest, no one came to see the tables. We plan to donate them. I hope someone finds them who loves them as much as I did.


  1. Like the ending of the frog and the scorpion story: "You knew what I was when you picked me up."

  2. Anonymous7/25/2021

    "But anyone knowledgeable enough in the first place to consider purchasing such a motorcycle is not going to be bamboozled by the wording of a CraigsList ad."
    Au contraire !
    PT Barnum was supposedly quoted as saying- there's a sucker born every minute.
    Using hyperboles, halftruths, if's, and maybes will attract any fool with a wad of disposable income. It buys bragging rights.


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