2019 Shannons Sydney Autumn Classic Auction & Rare Number Plates

1969 BSA 650 Lightning Motorcycle




Engine Twin-cylinder, 654cc
Gearbox 4-speed manual
Colour Red & Silver
Trim Black


This lot is no longer available

One of the oldest British motorcycle manufacturers, the Birmingham Small Arms Company began building bikes with proprietary power as early as 1903 and by 1909 were using their own engines, starting with a 3.5 horsepower belt-driven single.  BSA went on to become one of the most successful of all British manufacturers, both on and off the track, building a diverse range of bikes through the 1920s and 1930s that kept the company alive during the Depression.  A development of the successful A10, BSA’s new range of A50 and A65 twins took advantage of unit construction to modernise the packaging of the engine and gearbox in the late 1950s and would remain in production from 1962 until BSA finally went under over a decade later.  The two models shared virtually all common parts, including their stroke of 74mm, with the 500cc A50 having a bore of 65.5mm and the larger 650cc A65’s bore 75mm.  With a new frame came a new name, the so-called “Power Egg”, a reference to the design of the new unit engine and gearbox.  The A65 was sold in a myriad of different versions, including the Rocket, Thunderbolt, Lightning, Spitfire, Hornet and Firebird, and was steadily improved over the years.  The Lightning was a sports model designed to complement the touring Thunderbolt, featuring a close-ratio four-speed gearbox and a high-lift camshaft for better acceleration.  BSA updated the model in 1969 with balanced exhaust pipes, new silencers and a twin leading shoe front brake and the model ultimately lasted until 1972.  An A65 Lightning appeared in the James Bond movie “Thunderball” sporting missile launchers, cementing its place in popular culture.