I’ve known Gary & his lovely wife Jane for -ooh, must be getting on for 25 years now.
We have differing tastes in custom bikes but have shared our enthusiasm over the years, often running different custom styles of the same model of bike, as you can see in “Gary’s Yam”, in “Motors“, “2 Wheels”. He’s -how shall I put it? One of life’s Del Boy Trotters. He lives on his wits, forever doing deals, buying this, selling that. Loves the challenge of finding something for nothing -& then selling it for a profit! Never mention in front of him that you’re vaguely thinking of buying something, or within a week he’ll be phoning you up to sell you it! A very nice guy though with a heart of gold.
A few years ago he was shunted from behind by a lorry while driving his Volvo, which put him in a mobility scooter for a long time, slowly recovering enough to be able to return to biking. During that break he gradually pieced together this little piece of biking history, which reflects his love of old fashioned engineering & his fetish for polished brass!
This is a 1950 Panther M100. A big, thumpy 600cc single cylinder motor, produced by the Phelon & Moore works in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire. This engine was first designed in 1928, perfected in 1938 & in production until 1965, so is a well proven power-plant, which Gary has wisely left in original format -why change something that works so well! The gearbox is a 4 speed Burman unit, which is packed a third full with Castrol Spheerol grease, rather than oil, as recommended by the factory manual. The exhaust is an “Armours” item.
The frame is, like many old Brits, a two piece affair which bolts together behind the engine. In this case Gary’s used the front section from a 1961 Panther, coupled to the rear from a 1954 Ariel Square 4 to make use of it’s plunger rear suspension. The same Ariel donated it’s rear hub, while the front came from Antic Engineering in Gloucester. Both wheels were rebuilt with stainless spokes by Brian Parsons of Fleet, Hampshire.
The engine forms a stressed member of the frame, so there are no front down tubes. Just as well cos it’d be a shame to hide that beautiful engine. The forks are late 30s/early 40s girders which have been extended by 4 inches.
The after-market “QuickBob tank bears the original Panther badges & was painted by Gary in Vauxhall Ceramic Blue & finished with twin pack lacquer, as were the frame & Triumph front & Harley FatBob rear guards. The big solo saddle was home-made & features an integral gel pad for extra comfiness! The rack originally lived on a Yamaha DragStar & the headlight was supplied by Highway hawk, sitting high above the yokes, as is Gary’s trademark style on all his bikes. Chroming was handled by CNC in Hythe , Kent, with Gary buffing the casings himself using a polishing mop attached to an old spin-dryer motor. In keeping with his love of all things country & old time traction engines & fairground rides, there’s plenty of shiny brass around the bike too. A mutual friend, Bob Howard of Basingstoke performed welding duties -hopefully some of his impressive collection of Brits will be featured here soon.
It took Gary a year of hard graft to put this machine together, but not long after these canal-side photos were taken, & only days after the paintwork was finished, he was once again shunted from behind at a road junction. He stopped but unfortunately the 27 year old girl behind didn’t -she was busy writing a text message on her mobile phone. Her name? -Miss Kill. A passer-by helped Gary up & took him to a nearby medical practice to have his cuts & bruises treated. It was a vets! -strangely, the second time he’s been seen by a vet after a road accident! Luckily they didn’t put him down. Visiting his own Doctor a few days later, he asked “Is it alright to carry on treating the cuts with the iodine the vet gave me?”
Yes, that’s fine”.
“And what about the Bob Martin tablets? Should I carry on taking those?”
I like Gary. He makes me laugh & has an anecdote for every occasion! Maybe I should persuade him to write down a few for the site. The Panther’s back in the shed again now, but should soon be lovingly rebuilt & thumping along the Berkshire lanes once more. Keep an eye on your mirrors next time mate!