1963 Triumph T120R Bonneville Solo Motorcycle
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. Triumph completely redesigned the Bonneville for 1963, with few parts interchangeable with earlier models; the range was expanded to include the T120R (for road) and T120C (scrambler) and all were finished in the same Alaskan White solid colour. In addition to unit construction, Triumph also came up with a stronger frame design, which markedly improved the T120’s handling and road manners and numerous other changes, including a hinged seat and 18-inch wheels front and rear. 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.