sábado, 14 de agosto de 2010

The National Motorcycle Museum

On a nice rainy Saturday, as planned, we set off direction North on the M1. The journey lasted for 2h and by 12 noon we were in Birmingham. After paying for the tickets (no, this one wasnt free entrance) we got in into this magnificent large room full of old motorcycles everywhere.

Norton's first model

Here we could find everything, from JAP engined 3 wheeled Morgans to NYC Police Indians, Panthers, P&Ms and all kinds of old makes I didnt even know.

Here I found the the early products of the British Industrial Revolution in all their glory, memories of a time long gone. England was  the center of a great engineering empire where machines were created to feed the growing demand for faster and better bikes. The races pushed forward the evolution process in motorcycle manufacturing, people bought those bikes and soon the sky was the limit. Garages and workshops became assembly lines for a new make with the bosses name.

Later came the wars, the first and the second. Factories started to produce military vehicles, weapons, amo, canons, tanks, ships, rockets, rifles, everything was bombed and destroyed. Came the reconstruction phase, slow progress, ups and downs but not like before. In the mid 60's and only 10 years after they started  manufacturing,Japanese bikes were at least as good as British ones, cheaper although hated and considered "soulless".

The Brough Superior, considered the Rolls Royce of vintage motorcycles due to the care put into every build.
The bikes were ordered by the customer, built in steel, tested, disassembled, painted, reassembled, re-tested and delivered. A bike like this would cost in the 1930's something like £150, affordable only to a few in those days.

NORTONs John Player Special from the late 80's with  rotary engines.

As you would assume, more than half of the visitors were "senior citizens" retired searching for a glimpse of the good old days, looking back with what we, Portuguese would call "saudade". No translation to any other language in the world but I guess you can call it nostalgy.

As I stood taking pictures to one specific bike, an old man next to me said, not to his friend, not to me, but to himself.

"We used to make some great stuff. Where is it all gone?"

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