The ex-J D Potts, 1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands 'Hundred Model' (Lacey Replica) Frame no. B1098 Engine no. JORY/S 24122
Lot 300
The ex-J D Potts, 1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands 'Hundred Model' (Lacey Replica)
Registration no. VSL 453 Frame no. B1098 Engine no. JORY/S 24122
Sold for £ 57,500 (US$ 80,787) inc. premium

Lot Details
The ex-J D Potts, 1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands 'Hundred Model' (Lacey Replica) Frame no. B1098 Engine no. JORY/S 24122 The ex-J D Potts, 1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands 'Hundred Model' (Lacey Replica) Frame no. B1098 Engine no. JORY/S 24122 The ex-J D Potts, 1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands 'Hundred Model' (Lacey Replica) Frame no. B1098 Engine no. JORY/S 24122
The ex-J D Potts
1929 Grindlay-Peerless 498cc Brooklands 'Hundred Model' (Lacey Replica)
Registration no. VSL 453
Frame no. B1098
Engine no. JORY/S 24122
• Ultra-rare Vintage-era competition model
• One of only five or six made
• One of only two known survivors
• In-period Brooklands racing history (1929)
• In-period Manx Grand Prix racing history (1936)
• Owned by one family from the early 1930s to 2001
• Present ownership since 2001

When Grindlay-Peerless-mounted C W G 'Bill' Lacey became the first man to cover 100 miles in an hour on British soil in August 1928, the Coventry factory lost no time in bringing out a replica of his machine - the Brooklands 'Hundred Model'. However, lacking the resources of larger rivals and perhaps over-estimating the demand for such a specialised piece of racing equipment, they sold only a handful, believed to be no more than five or six machines. Up until recently only one of these - owned by prominent VMCC member and Brooklands 'Gold Star' holder Edward 'Boy' Tubb - had been thought to survive. This example's emergence from long-term family ownership in 2001 was seen as an event of exceptional historic interest and importance.

To stimulate competition on home ground, The Motor Cycle offered a silver trophy for the first successful attempt on British soil. That, of course, meant Brooklands, and on 1st August 1928 Bill Lacey, already a formidable competitor at the Weybridge track, wheeled out his immaculate Grindlay-Peerless and raised the record to 103.3mph, lapping at over 105mph in the process and taking the 750cc and 1000cc records into the bargain!

The resulting 'Hundred Model' replica, though different in detail, was essentially the same as Lacey's original, right down to its distinctive nickel-plated frame and cycle parts. However, as delivered to Lacey's Brooklands workshop, the replica was not capable of the 100mph lap guaranteed by the factory. The job of fettling the bikes and tweaking the twin-port JAP engine to Lacey's specification fell to his assistant Wal Phillips, whereupon each was tested by Lacey at 100mph-plus and issued with a certificate.

The example offered here was first owned and raced by J D Potts. Brooklands Society records indicated that he raced the machine at Brooklands on three occasions, in February, July, and October 1929, though without gaining that coveted 'Gold Star' for a 100mph race lap. A noted privateer and Grindlay-Peerless devotee, Potts raced 350 and 500 Grindlays at the 1929 Isle of Man TT, but is best known as the 'winner' of the last ever Amateur TT (as the Manx Grand Prix was then known) in September 1929. Potts' TT mounts were based on the Grindlay-Peerless 'Special Sporting' road models and it seems likely that he received a measure of factory and trade support. However, the rules stipulated that 'amateur' meant just that and, after a lengthy enquiry, Potts was stripped of his Senior win in December 1929, by which time Grindlay's 1930 catalogue had gone to press recording him as the winner!

In the early 1930s Potts' 'Hundred Model' passed to W C (Cyril) Norris, a young motor engineer employed by motorcycle dealer G L Emery, of Penrhyn Bay, Llandudno (J D Potts lived at neighbouring Rhôs-on-Sea) and remained in the Norris family's ownership following Cyril Norris's death in 2000.

An accompanying letter to G L Emery from JAP (dated January 1931) refers to Potts' 'recent ownership' of a '500cc racing engine' and notes 'the alteration to rocker gear' (a probable Lacey modification) while another (dated April 1931) from The Chester Electro-Plating Company reveals that silencers (note the plural and see below) left by Potts for re-plating and not collected had been sold to defray the cost of the work!

There are numerous invoices on file addressed to Cyril Norris from E C E 'Ted' Baragwanath, the famous Brooklands rider/tuner and JAP agent, one of which (dated April 1934) refers to tappet guides that were 'done by W G Lacey and are not stock parts'. Although stamped 'JORY' - the 'Y' indicating a twin-port cylinder head - the engine of the Norris bike is fitted with a single-port 'head unlike the Lacey original. An article in The Classic Motor Cycle of August 1988 records that E J Tubb's similar machine was up-graded from twin- to single-port specification by Baragwanath, who may well have done the same for Cyril Norris. Indeed, an accompanying invoice from Baragwanath (dated September 1934) records the cost of parts to convert Norris's engine to 'rocker box and enclosed pushrods' as £1 15s (£1.75).

Like most racing motorcycles of advanced age, the ex-Norris Grindlay-Peerless incorporates a number of modifications and improvements, most notably a front brake and Albion foot-change gearbox. The heavy-duty Brampton front fork with its distinctive Brampton-patented damping adjustment mechanism is original.

The bike was first registered 'JC 11' for road use in 1931 and, presumably, used as ride-to-work transport. However, its competition career was not yet over. Despite being somewhat long in the tooth and outclassed by later overhead-camshaft designs, the Grindlay-Peerless was entered in the Senior Manx Grand Prix in 1936. On his first and only appearance in the Island, Cyril Norris retired the Grindlay on the penultimate lap of a race won by Norton-mounted Austin Munks. Nevertheless, he was credited with 23rd place, and his best lap of 33 minutes 37 seconds (66.9mph) compares favourably with Potts' best Amateur TT lap of 1929 (on a machine conceived with road racing in mind, unlike Norris's ex-Brooklands bike) of 33 minutes 35 seconds.

After WWII the Grindlay-Peerless was used exclusively on the road until the mid-1950s (the machine is accompanied by three road fund licence discs dated 1953, '54, and '55 respectively) and thereafter was kept in dry storage. The current vendor purchased the Grindlay-Peerless at Bonhams' Stafford Sale in July 2001 (Lot 490).

Since acquisition, the black paint has been removed from the frame, exposing the original nickel finish. The Grindlay has been maintained in running order and used sparingly, one of its relatively few outings being to the Brooklands Centenary event in 2007. It is offered with two alternative fuel tanks (a twin-filler racing tank and a small-capacity 'sprint' tank); numerous invoices; assorted correspondence; 1936 Manx Grand Prix Senior Race programme; JAP manuals and parts list; Albion manual and parts list; and a V5C registration document.

An exciting opportunity to acquire one of the rarest of all limited edition, Vintage-era, Brooklands racing motorcycles.

Footnotes

  • As with all Lots in the Sale, this Lot is sold 'as is/where is' and Bidders must satisfy themselves as to the provenance, condition, age, completeness and originality prior to bidding.
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