2019 Shannons Sydney Late Autumn Classic Auction
1942 BSA WM20 500cc Motorcycle
|Engine||Single cylinder, 496cc|
This lot is no longer available
The Birmingham Small Arms Company began producing motorcycles in 1910 and went on to become one of the world's largest motorcycle manufacturers. Chief Designer Vale Page reworked the existing range in 1936 and the following year saw the introduction of the M20 (500cc) and M21 (600cc) side-valve singles. With its solid frame and torquey 500cc motor, the M20 was ideally suited for sidecar use and sold well in the years leading up to the war. Despite initial misgivings, the War Office began ordering the M20 for military use in 1939 and it remained the standard service motorcycle until the 1950s, with many still in use today. Known as the WM20 from October 1939, the rugged side-valve motorcycle became the staple of BSA's wartime production, with around 126,000 built, and saw military service on a number of fronts with the allied forces as a reliable and robust dispatch mount, convoy escort and all-round workhorse. Additional equipment specified by the military included an 8-inch Lucas headlamp and ammeter, timing gear cover and special 'winged' caps for both the petrol and oil tanks. Further revisions and detail changes took place throughout the war, leading to improvements in both reliability and ease of servicing. The majority were used by the British Army but both the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force employed M20s for dispatch riders, proving incredible reliable in some of the most hostile environments imaginable.