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The South of England Real Classic Motorcycle Show: Ardingly 25 March 2007

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The South of England RealClassic Motorcycle Show shifts up a gear

For many classic motorcyclists in the south of England, summer starts and ends at Ardingly in West Sussex. The South of England RealClassic Motorcycle Show takes place there, twice a year, and it has traditionally fallen on the weekend when the clocks go forward in Spring and back in Autumn. So British Summer Time begins and ends at Ardingly!

This year, the March Show was an extra-special one. The event changed hands at the end of 2006, and the new organisational team at Elk Promotions brought fresh enthusiasm and a range of improvements to this established and popular show. A wider range of owners’ clubs, trade stalls and autojumblers were attracted to the show and a record number of private owners were encouraged to display their classic bikes on the day. The Queen’s Jubilee Hall at the South of England Showground was packed with over 150 classics on display, ranging from AJS to Vincent. It took the judges nearly five hours to whittle them down to the 15 winners in categories which covered all kinds of classic motorcycles, from Pre-1946 to Best Lightweight to Best Club Display.

One of the most remarkable machines on display was David Bushell’s 1938 Scott prototype which had a crowd around it all day long and took the top prize in the Pre-1946 category. This Scott was one of only four built in 1938 and was supplied to London dealer Kitsons so they could test the market ahead of the launch of the Scott Clubman Special in 1939. When it was new the Scott went on sale for £105, but David Bushell bought it in 1961 for just £15 when it caught his eye. Some 46 years later, it’s still attracting plenty of attention.

Another bike with a tale to tell was Wilf Kelton’s 1954/55 Manx Norton. Wilf bought the Manx two years ago and specialist George Beale has restored it. Digging into its history, Wilf discovered that the Manx was shipped from the factory to South Africa, and he understands that it was owned and raced by Paddy Driver. The Manx was the well-deserved winner in the Competition category.

British bikes may have been in the majority, but motorcycles from all around the world were also very well represented. The Indian Riders Association put on a superb display of Indian Motorcycles and 1974 Suzuki TS, owned by Mr Vandewalle, took one of the Lightweight Awards. This super little Suzuki has clocked up just 1570 miles in its 33 years, and is described by its owner as being ‘98% original’. It has its full tool kit and original owner's manual, and even the drive chain, sprockets, hand grips and foot rubbers are the original equipment from 1974.

The Best Club Display Award was given to the BSAOC South London Branch, but it was a close run thing. They were in competition with other branches of the BSA club, and the AJS and Matchless Club as well as the Indian Riders Association. In keeping with the atmosphere of the South of England Show, which is informal and friendly, the club displays were made up of the bikes themselves in all their (occasionally oily) glory. The roads around Ardingly offer an entertaining journey for classic bike riders, so it’s no surprise that the majority of entrants prefer to ride to the show and leave the ‘official’ club stand (and the van) for a rainy day.

From the pleased reactions at the prize-giving ceremony, the winners were chuffed to receive their handsome, carved wooden awards to take home with their rosettes. All entrants were also treated to a specially cast commemorative horse brass and a show programme which included the details of their machine, so no one left empty-handed. A full list of the winners together with more photos from the day can be found on the organiser’s website (, and some of the top machines will be featured by the show sponsor, Real Classic magazine, on

There was plenty to do outside of the show hall, with more bikes riding in throughout the day, a selection of refreshments and plenty to rummage through in the largely undercover autojumble. Bargain-hunters were treated to an array of automobilia, from rare, new-old-stock components to secondhand spares, from complete motorcycles to basket- cases ready for restoration, to books and brochures, light bulbs and cheap lube. Or for those folk who wanted to buy an entire new motorcycle, ready for action, local Royal Enfield dealer T Northeast put on a cracking display of new-but-traditional Bullets in various different types of trim.

The changes to the format of the show encouraged everyone to make the most of the day, and riders could be found relaxing and chatting in the Spring sunshine well into the afternoon. Regular trader Paul Goff reported being too busy on his stand to even look at the bikes. ’It was a really good day’ said Paul. ‘More customers and sales than we've had before at Ardingly.’

Organiser Julie Diplock was also delighted with the day. ‘We knew this show had great potential and decided to put the extra effort in to get the ball rolling. It was a lot of hard work but the response has been marvellous and I’m pleased that so many people came along and enjoyed themselves. We’re already working on the next event – hopefully that will be bigger and better again.’

The next South of England Real Classic Motorcycle Show will be on Sunday October 28th 2007.

The next Elk Promotions Classic Motorcycle event will be the Ashford Classic Motorcycle Show, on Easter Monday (9th April 2007) followed by Rye (Hamstreet) Bikejumble on Sunday May 13th 2007.

For more information on any Elk events please contact 01797 344277 or visit

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Show Results

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Photos - by Keith Fryer - Many Thanks Keith.

Images copyright ©

Little & Large
At the Show: Corgi and Norton. The Norton is a 1951 500T trials model, the first purpose built trial bike Norton produced, current owner Mr Elston is only the second owner from new.

Indoor Shot
At the Show: The Queen's Jubilee Hall was packed with interesting machinery.

1928 Norton
A close up of the 1931 Norton Model 18 belonging to Mr H Ward that took second prize in the pre-1946 class.

Red Panther
Close-up of the 1938 Red Panther model 30 belonging to Mr Wheeler. The Red Panther was famous for being the cheapest complete bike available in the thirties, priced at a fraction under £30.

Tasty Vincent by the Chip Wagon.....

Close-up of Triumph petrol tank.

Moto Guzzi
Moto Guzzi spotted outside...

Inside 1
Inside Hall...

and again.

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Version 2 Updated 14th April 2007. © copyright 2006 ELK Promotions, PO Box 85, New Romney, Kent TN28 9BE (UK - postal address only). Please send your comments / queries to : ELK Promotions