Sunday, 3 April 2011

Early US Shooting Star and Road Rocket pics

I have a lot of BSA material lying around my hard drive that's badly filed so gets overlooked and forgotten about.  In that category are some dealer photos of a very early US spec Road Rocket and Shooting Star that I recently re-discovered.  These are interesting for several reasons so I thought I'd post them.

First of all, I haven't seen these anywhere else - which was the reason for getting them in the first place.

Second, they show - if the photos are to be believed - that early models had a couple of features that are specific to US models or that were dropped later in the first year.

For example, both models are fitted with Fat Girlings. I think the first BSAs these were fitted to were some of the earliest CB Gold Stars shipped in late 1953 - they had certainly stopped fitting them to bikes shipped in 1954.

Another feature is the wing-nut type oil tank filler cap. Until I had seen these I thought these were only fitted to very early CB Gold Stars shipped in 1953.

Finally, the standout feature on the Road Rocket of course is the alloy Road Rocket sculpture on the front mudguard.

 Road Rockets were only available in the US for the first two years of manufacture and were only fitted with the 'rocket in the US - were UK enthusiasts sick with jealousy!  BSA used different finishes and different cycle parts on some US models but something as unique and needless as this - there has to be an interesting story behind this. It's so un-characteristically BSA.

Since both photos use BSA's Daytona win as a promotional aid, this dates them as being not earlier than March 1954 though the bikes used for the photos would have produced earlier. Since the photographer credited is Moss Photo of NY, it's reasonable to assume that these were produced at the request-of or for use by the Eastern Distributor Rich Childs. I'm not aware of any difference in finish between East and West coast models as is the case with other BSAs around the same time - the Super Flash for example - but it makes me inclined to take a look at the despatch records some time - another blog, for another day

.If the photos are to be believed. What I mean by this is that the photos follow usual BSA practice of being at best, a touched-up version of an original photo or worse, a fairly creative rendition or imagining of the actual bike. The most creative ones that I've seen are of competition models not generally available to the public like the Daytona models, something that didn't help when researching these for restoration (add link).

Heavily re-touched BSA promotional photo of a 1954 Daytona Shooting Star. Many features are incorrect so this may have used a photo of an early prototype of the Daytona bike.

The picture above shows what is described a Daytona Shooting Start but the bike appears to be a mish-mash of parts from 1953 (e.g. megaphones, mudguards) and 1954 Daytona twins. I have seen original photos of the Daytona bikes in prototype stage with variations like these so this may have it's origins in a prototype also.
These 'artist impression' photos are at their least creative for over-the-counter models and of necessity - picture the scene at the dealer as the customer complains that the bike he bought doesn't look like the one in the photo that made him buy the bike in the first place!