New for 1951!

Just leafing through a copy of The Motor Cycle from 16th November 1950 – well, we are in ‘Lockdown’! – I came across a piece entitled ‘Douglas Market Four Flat Twins’. The annual Motor Cycle Show was not held in 1950, and manufacturers announced their ranges for the coming season through the press. Apart from the intriguing strapline ‘Three out of every five post-war 350cc motor cycles in The Argentine are Douglas’, several other details caught my eye. Much is made of the 80 Plus and 90 Plus models, but the Mark 4 appears to have been written out of the script. ‘New to the range is the Mark 5, which replaces the earlier Mark 3 Deluxe and Sport models’ runs the text – although at this point the author seems to have run out of inspiration as he directs the readers’ admiration to the new ribbed front mudguard! Clearly not a lot new for 1951 …
One detail that was new to me, though, was that polychromatic blue machines could have their Feridax dual seat supplied in matching colour! I wonder how many owners opted for a blue seat cover … has anyone ever seen one?
The fourth twin in the line-up is the rigid-framed competition model, featuring the sort of mudguard clearance which I associate with 1980s Japanese trail bikes! I also like the position of the horn, under the seat beneath the rider’s greatcoat. An amusing party trick for post-war austerity times, I guess …

Douglas Mark Series Comp 1951
Douglas Mark Series Comp 1951

If anyone can shed light on the Argentinian connection with Douglas, do let us know!

A Four-Wheeled Douglas

Readers of this blog will be familiar with Douglas motorcycles – but Douglas cars?

Douglas’ first foray into four-wheeled transport was in 1913, with a light car with pressed steel chassis which sold for a hefty £160. WW1 brought an end to this project but production of a revised – and heavier – vehicle resumed in 1919 in Coventry. The new car was fitted with a liquid-cooled twin-cylinder engine of 1224cc and 10.5hp, and was available in three versions. It also came with a hefty price tag; at around £500 few were sold and production ended in 1922.

This beautiful 1921 Douglas Tourer is believed to be the sole remaining example of a Douglas car. It will be offered for sale at Bonham’s December auction, and will certainly be the crowning glory of any Douglas collection!

1921 Douglas 10.5hp Tourer
1921 Douglas 10.5hp Tourer

100 Years, Four Owners …

Owning a historic machine and being interested in its history are two sides of the same coin for many of us, so I particularly enjoyed the following story from a member who has recently acquired a Douglas with a remarkable history. To the new owner – thank you for sharing this story!

I recently acquired a 2 ¾ HP and, after a fair bit of research, I have been able to trace the name of the original owner – John Elias Dakin, born 1891 in Llanidloes, Wales. The bike was registered to him on the 8th January 1921 having been purchased from S P Davies Motorcycles in Llanidloes. They were mainly an ironmongers in 1920 but had ventured into motorcycles. It is an ex-WD model and although it has 1916 on the timing case, the engine and frame numbers suggest that it was manufactured in 1918. John joined the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in 1914 and served in the 1st World War at Gallipoli. His family think he may have been a dispatch rider, but if not he probably saw a good number of Douglas bikes, which may have sparked his interest. He was discharged in 1920 and purchased the bike soon after. For some reason he only used the bike up until September 1928 and for the next 34 years it was sadly left stored in a garage until he died in 1962. The bike was then sold to the second owner who was a friend of the family. He didn’t have a motorcycle licence and never made any attempt to get one, so the bike was never used on the road. He mentions in a letter to me that when he bought the bike he merely cleaned the plugs and put in some petrol and it started first time, so why it was not used after 1928 remains a mystery as clearly there was no mechanical damage. The petrol tank after all this time was apparently corroded and leaking, but as he was a teacher of sheet metal work he made a new tank in sheet brass. He regularly transported the bike to various shows around Hereford and Wales, which gave him the opportunity to ride the bike around the show arena. In 2002 the bike was sold to the third owner, but yet again it was never used on the road and again left stored until I bought it back in August 2020, so hopefully, apart from the tank, most of it is as it was after being refurbished by Douglas for civilian use, a century earlier.

Douglas 2.3/4 HP 1916
Douglas 2.3/4 HP

Douglas 2.3/4 hp Parts

Owners of 2.3/4 hp models will be interested to learn that a range of parts for these models is available from the RacingNorton website https://racingnorton.co.uk/

Do not be deterred by the name of the site – the proprietor, Paul Norman, is the owner of a Douglas 2.3/4 hp machine and has developed these parts in the course of restoring his own machine.

The RacingNorton site also features many other parts useful to Douglas owners, including magneto and carburettor spares.

Douglas Machines Under The Hammer

Bonhams motorcycle auction at the Bicester Heritage Centre on the 14th and 15th of August includes a pair of machines to tempt the Douglas enthusiast! The first is described as a 1925 Douglas 596cc RA Model OB, while the second is a 1928 Douglas 500cc RA/DT Racing Special, fitted with Douglas’ innovative disc brake. Both machines appear to be in excellent order. More information about the machines is available on Bonhams website www.bonhams.com and viewing is possible from Wednesday 12th, by appointment.