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Old shot from the Bob T. collection.
You could call it the oldest show in town and also the newest. The 34th running of the iconic El Camino Bike Show and Swap Meet took place on the roof of the El Camino College massive parking structure in Torrance, CA where it’s been conducted for umpteen years. However, the show was under new ownership and and right out of the chute set new records for vendor attendance, all spots sold out, the first ever 100% capacity in the history of the event and strong indication that one of the West Coast’s longstanding events is still running at redline.
Clear skies called for plenty of Sunblock 34, collateral sunburn bouncing off the acres of chrome and polished aluminum as vintage, classic and antique bikes of all nationalities showed up to be judged. Meanwhile vendors had gathered from all over the Southwest to trot out their precious metal all to the benefit of swappers hunting for their own particular Holy Grail bike part.
First timers at EC, these guys found their personal treasures
Glenn Bator of Bator International could be heard over the microphone as he aided in the transition of the show into the hands of new owner/director Marshall Baker of Classic Cycle Events who also puts on the long running Hanford Motorcycle Show and Swap.
The vendors’ exhibitions literally stretched the width and breadth of the entire parking area and you needed either good walking shoes or a pit bike to take it all in.
Everything from nuts and bolts to entire motorcycles was up for grabs and the grabbing was good by the looks of people carting away parts and assorted goodies.
The sun rose again on the British Empire thanks to plenty of Triumph, BSA, Norton and Ariel in attendance.
Some bargains were found at the Sales Bike Corral where you could park you scooter with a For Sale sign.
A pair of historic Hondas au naturel for sale.
There you found everything from not one, but two unrestored original 1954 Honda Dreams ($7500 and $9500) to a very nice BMW R100 airhead with full fairing and saddlebags ready for cross-country touring for only an asking price of $2500.
The bike show itself brought some unusual bikes…and their equally unique builders/restorers/owners. One of the coolest was the bright red custom Harley 1940 knucklehead stuffed in a VL frame with “Charlie Davidson” emblazoned on the gas tank.
Charlie Watkins and his Dream Machine
Seated next to the bike, under a colorful umbrella held by his granddaughter, Charlie Watkins debuted his dream bike. A handwritten letter attached to the bike told the story: “My Dad is 87 and has wanted to build a bike like this since he was a kid. He worked on this bike and got all but the finishing touches done. He lost his eyesight and a bit of his memory. But he is very proud of this bike. And we are very proud of him.” Signed, Henry Farner, Doni Farner, Rachel Farner and Scott Sellch. Scott, Rachel’s fiancé, fired up the bike and it drew an instant crowd. Charlie Watkins could be seen beaming.
World’s Fastest Baby Carriage – Century Cycle’s Cindy Rutherford electric powered baby carriage had to be event’s wildest wheeled vehicle.
It must have been a family event, because lo and behold, one of SoCal’s most famous vintage bike personalities/wild women, Cindy Rutherford, the queen of Century Motorcycles in San Pedro, CA showed up in an electric powered baby carriage in which she stood as she rolled royally around the event. With her were her daughter and Cindy’s brand new granddaughter. Now as to who was supposed to be in the baby carriage is another matter.
Hickory Wheeled Wonder - 1916 Militaire - An American made machine (1911-17) powered by 1306cc 4-cylinder shat drive engine, the 3-speed w/reverse transmission set in the center of the bike. Unusual to say the least, expensive to build, about 100 were built.
While the biggest bike at the event was an incredibly long 1916 Militaire, it was one of the smallest bikes that stole the show.
The Lowe brothers getting low on their Bonneville record bike
Back on August 20, 1969 brothers Dean and Jack Lowe of El Monte, CA took their1965 Honda S95 street bike and transformed it into a Bonneville racer where they set a speed record at “a tick under 90 mph” with Jack laid out on the bike. 40 years later, they gathered up the pieces and restored the bike. On August 20, 2009, they fired it up and rode it, 40 years to the day.
Says Dean, “We’re going back to reset the record at Bonneville next year.” They do have a request. They need a set of speed rated 16-inch tires so they can run 100 mph on it, something a little safer that 40-year tires on the bike.
Summing up the day, Marshall Baker says, “I just wanted to put on an event for people like us who love motorcycles and I guess I got lucky. The great turn-out is what made it a great show. And we’ll back at El Camino in 2010.”
Munchkin Harley – Famous model-to-be Makayla poses alongside show winning Greg Stire’s 1961 Super 10.
Going for the Gold – Holding trophies (l to r) are Jim Frankel, Craig Taylor, George Yamaka and Greg Stires and one guy helping George hold all his awards.
Harpo’s Honda – Both Harpo and his human Dydia Delyser are veteran
riders, usually in a sidecar but this time brought Dydia’s 1961 305 Dream.
UFO Bike – Sexy Italian Scifi 1955 175cc MV Agusta was named “Disco Volante” aka Flying Saucer after its distinctive gas tank, shown by Italian bike aficionado par excellence Mike Harper-Smith.
Indigenous Indian – Neil Nissing’s 1913 Indian was the lucky winner of First Place in the Antique Class, the bike recently restored by the one and only Mike Parti.
Bike Show Winners
Sponsor’s Choice was jewel-like 1955 Motor Rumi Junior that scored 98.5 points Owner Don Barnes (l) and its highly talented restorer John Pera.
First Place Winner’s List:
Antique Class – 1913 Indian Twin - 97.5 points – Neil Nissing
Vintage American – 1948 Harley-Davidson EL – 98 points – Landy Brakke
Vintage British – 1955 Ariel MK I – 99 points – Perry Owen
Classic American – 1966 Harley FL Electra w/sidecar - 96 points – Johnny Andersson
Classic Britsh – 1966 Triumph – 100 points – Roger Snideles
Vintage and Classic European - - 1961 BMW R50/2 – 99 points –Tim Stafford
Don Harrell’s spiffy Spitfire
On/off Road Competition – 1960 BSA Spitfire Scrambler – 99.75 points – Don Harrell
Two Stroke/ On/Off Road Competition – 1972 Rickman R250MX – 98.75 points Blair Beck
Custom Vintage and Bobbers – 1945 Harley-Davidson VL – 99 points – Jim Frankel
Power Bikes and Scooters – 1961 Harley Davidson Super 10 – 99.75 points – Greg Stires
All Original – 1912 Pierce Single – 98.5 points – Carl Harren
Trial Endura/Street Trackers – 1972 Pickman/Zundapp 6-Day Replica – 97 points – Dave Tonkiss
People’s Choice – 1941Harley-Davidson EL – 89 points – John Messing
Best Restoration – 1954 Harley-Davidson FL – 99.5 points – Larry Ramos
BEST OF SHOW – 1958 BSA Gold Star – 100 points – Don Harrell