2019 Shannons Sydney Late Autumn Classic Auction
Lot
52

1959 Triumph T120 Bonneville Solo Motorcycle

$44,000

Sold

Specifications

Engine Twin-cylinder, 649c
Gearbox 4-speed manual
Colour Pearl Grey & Tangerine
Trim Black

Description

This lot is no longer available

With origins dating back to 1902, Triumph established a long and proud tradition of building powerful and rapid motorcycles.  It wasn’t until the Thirties that Triumph, under new ownership, began to build a series of truly successful machines, beginning with the Tiger range of singles and moving on to the Speed Twins in 1937.  The Bonneville, launched at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show, was a development of the Tiger and featured a twin carburettor 650cc engine housed in a single downtube frame.  Named after the famed Bonneville Salt Flats where Johnny Allen set records aboard the famous “Texas Cigar” streamliner earlier in the Fifties, the Bonnie established itself as the fastest production motorcycle of the era and went on to become an all-time classic.  Production commenced in 1959 and early Bonnevilles featured the fully valanced mudguards and headlamp nacelle lifted from the Thunderbird, all finished in the same Pearl Grey and Tangerine colour combination, resulting in the nickname “Tangerine Dream”, and these remain the rarest – and consequently valuable - T120s of all.  The Bonnie remained the most powerful, fastest and desirable bike in Triumph’s catalogue for over a decade, with numerous variants offered for sale along the way.  Sadly, inroads by the Japanese, along with the general complacency of the British motorcycle industry, saw the formation of the Norton-Villiers-Triumph conglomeration that year.  Such were the protests against shifting production from Meriden to the BSA factory in Birmingham that a co-operative was established in March 1975 to resume manufacture of the Bonneville at the traditional home of Triumph.  This, too, ultimately proved futile and the doors closed at Meriden for the final time in 1983, ending a proud chapter in British motorcycling history.