BSA 350 De Luxe Model 19

Lot number 209
Hammer value WD
Description BSA 350 De Luxe Model 19
Registration Unregistered
Year 1938
Colour Green/Black
Engine size 350 cc
Chassis No. JM19 113
Engine No. HM19 121


BSA 350 De Luxe Model 19

This 1938 BSA Model M19 comes with a Classic Services dating certificate, V55 form and various literature including Bruce Main-Smith parts catalogue and a photocopy of the original sales brochure where it states the price was £59 to buy new and 45 shillings to tax. The speedometer was extra on this model as was the lighting equipment. It comes with twin sports tool boxes, fishtail sports exhaust and the tank has been rechromed by the Rolls-Royce chrome service in Crewe.

The single cylinder OHV engine has a 68.8mm bore x 94mm stroke with dry sump lubrication and an oil indicator in the tank panel along with ammeter and switch. The valve gear is enclosed and it has an alloy piston, fitted with 5/8th chain and four speed constant mesh gearbox. You will notice on the timing side chain case it has the competition rev counter base with two studs, which possibly shows this machine to have been a competition bike.

The petrol tank holds 3 gallons and all the paintwork, we believe, was done over 10 years ago at great expense at the famous Lewis & Templeton so is of a high standard. The motorcycle has been in storage since the rebuild, new tyres recently fitted, mag and dynamo overhauled and now just needs re-commissioning. This model is known in BSA circles as the fore-runner to the famous 1939 BSA Gold star, which now command very strong prices.

BSA Empire Star

The Empire Star was a standard motorcycle made by BSA at their factory in Small Heath, Birmingham. Named to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V of the United Kingdom and advertised as The Master piece of the Industry,  the Empire Star range was produced between 1936 and 1939, when it was developed into the BSA Gold Star and World War II stopped production.


Developed from the popular BSA Blue Star and designed by Val Page,[3] the Empire Star range had the benefit several ideas Page had been developing at his previous employers, Ariel and Triumph motorcycles. With a heavy frame and iron barrelled pushrod valves the Empire Star still had the legacy of the earlier BSAs however, and Page continued to lighten it and introduce engine tuning ideas throughout production.


The overhead valve Empire Star was available as the 250 cubic centimetres (15 cu in) ‘B22’, the 350 cc (21 cu in) ‘R5’ and the 500 cc (31 cu in) ‘Q8’ models.  Based on the standard Blue Star the ‘Empire’ featured an alloy primary chaincase with a special high compression piston and a hardened cylinder bore. It also had some modern features, including a new foot-change gearbox and dry sump lubrication.

BSA launched the range of Empire Star models in 1936 with an effective demonstration of their reliability – a 500 cubic centimetres (31 cu in) model was subjected to an endurance test of 500 miles (800 km) at Brooklands, averaging speeds of over 70 miles per hour (110 km/h) round the oval track. This was followed by a 1,000 miles (1,600 km) endurance ride around the UK, visiting the West Country, Wales and the Lake District. The whole trip was completed successfully without the need for any spare parts – an important selling point for BSA in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

The outbreak of World War II ended production of the Empire Star in 1939 as the BSA factory switched to making munitions and producing the BSA M20 for the British Army.



The BSA C11 is a British motorcycle manufactured by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) at their factory in Armoury Road, Small Heath, Birmingham, between 1939 and 1956. Actor Steve McQueen owned a 1951 BSA C11.


The BSA C11 was a pre-unit single-cylinder developed before the Second World War from the sidevalve C10. Fitted with overhead valves and displacing 249cc, the C11 was launched in 1939 and continued to be developed into the 1950s. The C11 frame was improved in 1951 when BSA added plunger rear suspension.

BSA Bantam

The BSA Bantam is a two-stroke unit construction motorcycle that was produced by the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) from 1948 (as a 125 cc) until 1971 (as a 175 cc). Exact production figures are unknown, but it was over 250,000[citation needed] and some estimates place the number closer to half a million.



The engine is a unit construction (engine and gearbox of one piece) single cylinder 2 stroke. The barrel is cast iron while the head is alloy. The gearbox was initially three speeds, later versions went to four, fed through a “wet” clutch. Ignition was of two types a Lucas battery powered coil in earlier machines or a magneto by Wipac. The magneto was on a composite assembly sitting within the flywheel with its magnet inserts; windings gave power either directly to the lights (with a dry cell for when the engine was stopped) or through a rectifier into a lead acid battery. The early D1s had “fish tail” styled exhausts but this was replaced with the more conventional cylindrical silencer. High-level exhausts were made for the trials and off-road models, in which the only electrics are the magneto-powered ignition.

BSA B44 Shooting Star

The BSA B44 Shooting Star was a motorcycle made by BSA at their factory in Small Heath, Birmingham. Similar to the BSA C15 and sharing many of the same parts, the B44 had an uprated chassis.

BSA Shooting star 441 67In 1968 the B44 became BSA’s top export model. The good availability of spare parts and the relative simplicity of the single-cylinder engine meant that the surviving examples are easily restored to as-new condition.


The Victor Roadster (or Shooting Star, a name borrowed from a 1950s-era BSA twin), had a top speed of around 90 mph (the same speed as the 250 BSA Barracuda – a.k.a. B25 Starfire) and was designed with a focus on easy riding over speed. It came with high-rise handlebars and reflectors both beneath the tank and on either side of the taillight. In 1969 the Shooting Star was updated with a steel gas tank and a twin-leading-shoe brake.

Victors had impressive power-to-weight ratios that made them ideal for hill climbs. The 11:1 compression ratio required a compression release lever for kick starting.

BSA A65 Star

The BSA A65 Star was a Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) motorcycle aimed at the US market for unit construction twins. As well as giving a clean look to the engine, with the pushrod passages part of the cylinder block casting, unit construction reduced the number of places oil could leak from.  A range of A65 Star twins was produced between 1962 and 1972.


Bob Fearon, managing director and general manager of BSA, recognised the need for a new look that built on the best features of the A10s but would succeed in the potentially lucrative, but competitive, US market. Working with chief development engineer Bert Perrigo, he developed the unit construction Star twins.


A range of these 650 cc (40 cu in) Star twins were produced between 1962 and 1972 but they were really developments of the old model range with less weight. Not enough time was spent on testing and development as BSA were struggling to remain competitive with Triumph models and the emerging Japanese motorcycles. Large side panels were fitted to cover the space behind the engine but they contributed to a dated look. This was reinforced by engine vibration, but acceleration was good to a top speed of 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).

Twelve volt electrics were introduced in 1966 and the top of the range BSA Spitfire was capable of 120 mph (190 km/h). In 1967 BSA won a special Queens Award to Industry and by 1969 the BSA factory were responsible for 80% of the British motorcycles exported. In the US the 650 Star twins were selling well with styling changes including high rise handlebars and more streamlined fuel tanks. In 1970 a new ‘oil in frame’ design was adopted but this proved unpopular with shorter riders, as it increased the seat height. This was sorted out by 1972 but by then BSA were facing serious financial problems and stopped production of the outdated 650 Star twin.

BSA A65 Rocket

a65_1963_rocketThe BSA A65R Rocket was one of a series of unit construction twin cylinder Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) motorcycles made in the 1960s. A version branded as the A65 ‘Thunderbolt Rocket’ was aimed at the US market. The A65R Rocket was produced from 1964 but was stopped in 1965 when all development at BSA was halted by financial difficulties.


The A65R was a development of the old model range led by Bob Fearon, Managing Director and General Manager of BSA and Chief Development Engineer Bert Perrigo they developed the unit construction Star twins. To make the A65R more of a ‘sports version’ of the original BSA A65 Star (and in anticipation of more stringent noise control legislation) it was given ‘siamesed’ 2 into 1 exhaust pipes with a special baffle, as well as chrome plated mudguards and headlight brackets. Able to cruise at 85 mph (137 km/h) and with a top speed of 108 mph (174 km/h) it was sold as the fastest BSA in production. A special version of the A65 branded as the A65T/R ‘Thunderbolt Rocket’ was aimed at the US market and featured high rise handlebars and a smaller fuel tank.

By 1965 competition from motorcycle producers such as Honda were eroding BSA’s previously rising sales figures. BSA’s marketing team was slow to respond and new motorcycle development contributed to substantial losses, so by 1972 the company was absorbed into Manganese Bronze Holdings in a rescue plan initiated by the Department of Industry. A plan to combine Norton, BSA and Triumph failed through poor industrial relations and the BSA factories closed.

BSA Fury

The BSA Fury was a British motorcycle manufactured as a prototype by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) in 1970 but by November 1972 BSA Group debts exceeded £20 million. Designed by Edward Turner but substantially redesigned by Bert Hopwood and Doug Hele, the Fury never went into commercial production due to the collapse of the BSA Group.



Launched in 1971, the 349 cc (21.3 cu in) double overhead cam twin BSA E35 was branded the BSA Fury. It was essentially the same motorcycle as the Triumph Bandit and represented the BSA factory’s last attempt to compete against Japanese imports. The frame used for the Fury designed by Rob North was the same as that used on the racing BSA triples and a ‘Street Scrambler’ E35SS and road version the E35R were developed during 1971. Featuring upswept twin silencers, the SS had an optional electric starter and indicators and 26 mm Amal concentric carburettors. The Fury delivered 34 bhp (25 kW) and could reach 110 mph (180 km/h). BSA invested their scarce resources on publicity for the Fury under the slogan A new kind of Power.  Multi-page brochure inserts were put in all of the major US motorcycle publications and BSA and Triumph were counting on the Fury and Bandit to bring them back into profitability. Promotional photographs for the new bike (featuring BSA/Triumph Chief Stylist Stephen Mettam and British actress-model Karen Young posing in the grounds of Umberslade Hall) were produced, the Fury also having been included in the 1971 BSA customer brochure.

BSA A75R Rocket 3

1969 BSA A75R Rocket 3 SPOTLIGHT

The A75R Rocket 3, to give it its full title, was a break with tradition in many ways, not least being the three-cylinder engine configuration. This was of 740cc capacity, air-cooled and mounted transversely. Much of the engine design were shared with a Triumph companion model – the ‘Trident’. In the case of the BSA, the cylinders were canted forward 15 degrees, while on the Triumph, they were vertical.

bsa-R3Despite the addition of an additional cylinder (but no flywheel), the BSA/Triumph triple was only 9 cms wider than a comparable twin. While overhead camshafts had become more widespread thanks to Japanese machines, the Rocket 3 relied on pushrods for the valve operation. Other ‘old’ elements of the engine design included the vertically-split crankcase and kick start operation, when more and more Japanese machines were coming from the factory with electric starters.

The Rocket 3 frame differed from the Triumph Trident in its use of twin downtubes, while the Trident used a single tube. The BSA frame was MIG welded and also taller than its lugged & brazed Triumph stablemate. The BSA also featured a different, sub-frame set-up to the Triumph.

The overall look of the Rocket 3 was a break with BSA styling tradition, indeed with the appearance of most motorcycles in general. The finished product was also rumoured to be the result of ‘design by committee’, which at least partly explains the mix ‘n’ match look to some of the BSA’s design elements.

On debut, and into 1969, the Rocket 3 was available in two basic colours – red and blue – both with white pinstriping on the front and rear mudguards, and a black frame. The angular shape of the side panels was reflected in the petrol tank, with had a rather plain BSA logo positioned ahead of the knee rubbers. Identifying ‘Rocket 3’ badging was placed in a large strip on the side panels. An integral oil cooler, positioned just below the fuel tank, featured ribbed alloy covers that allowed for positioning of the side reflectors required by US law. Electrics were 12 volt and instrumentation was quite comprehensive for the period, with ammeter, speedo and tacho, as well as oil pressure and high beam warning lights.


Engine: 740cc OHV 4-stroke transverse three-cylinder
Bore/Stroke: 67 x 70mm
Compression: 9.0:1
Power/Torque: 58hp @ 7500rpm / N/A
Fuel System: Three 27mm Amal 626 concentric carburettors
Cooling System: Air
Starting System: Kick
Electrical System: 12 volt
Transmission/Drive: 4 speed foot change manual/chain drive
Front Suspension: Telescopic forks with two-way damping
Rear Suspension: Swingarm rear with 3-position adjustable twin shock absorbers
Front Brake: 8.0-inch TLS drum
Rear Brake: 7.0-inch SLS drum
Front Tyre: 3 1/4 x 19-inch
Rear Tyre: 4 x 19-inch
Weight: 468lb (212kg)
Seat Height: 32-inch (813mm)
Fuel Capacity: 4.25 gal (19.3 ltr)
Top Speed: 192 kph approx

BSA A50 Royal Star

BSA-A50-11962 BSA A50 Royal Star
Claimed power:
 28.5hp @ 6,000rpm
Top speed: 90mph (est.)
Engine: 499cc OHV air-cooled parallel twin
Weight (dry): 385lb (175kg)
Price then: $775 (est.)
Price now: $4,000-$6,000


The BSA Rocket Gold Star was a Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) motorcycle that marked the final stage of development of the A10 twins. With a specially tuned A10 Super Rocket engine in the well proven Gold Star single frame, BSA created a very fast bike (for the time) with good handling fast bike that became ‘classic’. Surviving models are in such demand today that ‘fakes’ (using Super Rocket parts) are sold as originals.


Launched in February 1962, the total BSA Rocket Gold Star production was 1,584 bikes, of which 272 were off-road scramblers. The later (1961-1963) 9:1 compression Super Rocket engine was used with a BSA Spitfire camshaft and an Amal Monobloc carburettor gave 46 bhp (34 kW) as standard. Options such as Siamese exhausts and a close-ratio RRT2 gearbox could increase this to 50 bhp (37 kW) – and add 30% to the price. Nine specials were made for export to California and one was fitted with a sidecar by Watsonian for the Earls Court Show in October 1962.

The main reason for the demise of the popular Rocket Gold Star was the emergence of new unit construction successors, which meant that production ended in 1963.

BSA A10 Golden Flash

The BSA Golden Flash was a Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) motorcycle. The Golden Flash was also available in black and chrome, but it was the all-over gold paint scheme that gave it the name, and made it such a popular escape from post war austerity.

Its development after the 1937 launch of the ground breaking Triumph Speed Twin, together with the need to pay off British war-debt, led to the two creating the post-war rise of the parallel twin engine layout, which was to dominate British design throughout the 1950s and 60s.


Bert Hopwood had left school to serve an apprenticeship under designer Val Page at Ariel. In 1936, Hopwood moved to Triumph, where he worked under Edward Turner to develop the ground breaking Triumph Speed Twin. Post World War II, Hopwood accepted an offer in April 1947 from Norton, where he designed the Norton Dominator engine.


The movement of Hopwood around the three manufacturers meant that all three were ahead of BSA in manufacturing a modern parallel-twin. The then largest and most financially stable manufacturer needed to compete, and although it had launched a pre-war designed parallel-twin in the form of the BSA A7, it was possibly fateful that Hopwood fell out with Norton, and left the company 12 months after joining them.


In May 1948, Hopwood joined BSA. Briefed specifically to create a competitive parallel-twin, the internally designated A10 model was based on an earlier A7 design by Page and Bert Perkins. After BSA took over Triumph in 1951, Hopwood returned to Norton.

Launched in October 1949, the A10 Golden Flash was a new post-war design, with most of the difference to the A7 being in the engine. Increased to 650 cc (40 cu in), it encompassed revised castings for the cylinder head and rocker box, and a cast-in carburettor manifold. The frame was available in rear rigid format, but the more common option was the then new plunger suspension, specifically designed for overseas export. BSA was a manufacturer who focused on machines for the working man, and so the design incorporated two practical use features: a hinged rear mudguard, designed to ease rear wheel removal; and a semi-unit engine and gearbox arrangement. The semi-unit power train enabled the primary chain to be adjusted via a slipper within the primary chain case.


The large carry over of parts from the A7 had the advantage of greater reliability, as it minimised the risk of any new technical problems.[3] Launched in a new form of gold colour, the combination of reliability and marketing made early exports possible, with 80% of production destined for the USA. The result was long delivery times for British customers, who were offered a more practical and less stand out black.

Although never designed as a fast machine, the Golden Flash was nonetheless fast for its time and competitive with the Triumph Tiger 100, achieving over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) in tests in 1950, and covering a standing quarter mile in under 16 seconds.[6] Its gold colour also made it a marketing and sales success, out selling the red Speed Twin and the later blue-grey Triumph 6T Thunderbird, which was resultantly revised the following year into polychromatic blue.

In 1956, alloy brake drums were fitted as standard which both reduced unsprung weight and increased stopping power.


The BSA C15 was a 250 cc single-cylinder ohv motorcycle manufactured by the British company BSA between 1958 and 1967, and was BSA’s first four-stroke unit-construction bike. At that period, a 250cc was the largest capacity bike that a learner could ride on L-plates in the United Kingdom, the C15 was attractive to riders with provisional licences. An off-road version, the C15T Trials, gave riders access to the sport ofmotorcycle trials.

Producing only 15 bhp (11 kW), the C15’s lack of power and issues with reliability[citation needed] meant that it was hard for the BSA to compete with the more sophisticated Japanese motorcycles (such as the Honda C71 and CB72) which began arriving in the UK in the 1960s.



BSA acquired the Triumph marque at the start in 1936, and the BSA C15 250 cc four stroke was derived from the 200 cc Triumph Tiger Cub, itself coming from the 150cc Terrier. Edward Turner became head of the BSA automotive division and in 1958 BSA introduced the concept of unit construction, where the engine and gearbox were combined in one piece rather than as separate components. The BSA C15 ‘Star’ was the first unit construction model and proved more reliable and economical than its predecessor, the pre-unit BSA C11.

The engine had an iron barrel and alloy head with overhead valves operated by pushrods which ran in a separate tube to fully enclosed rockers. The camshaft was geared directly to the crankshaft which had skew gears driving a shaft with the points at the top and the oil pump at the bottom. The alternator was to the left and the primary drive was via a duplex chain to a multi plate clutch. The four speed gearbox was at the rear of the vertically split crankcase. The frame was single loop with twin rails under the engine and pivoted fork rear suspension, and both wheels were 17 inch with full width cast iron hubs. An oil tank was under the seat on the right matched by a toolbox on the left. Between them was an ignition switch panel hiding the battery. The headlamp was fitted in a nacelle which also housed the instruments and switches as was fashionable at the time. Deeply valanced mudguards were fitted to the standard model, making it look heavier than it actually was.

The C15 also had a completely redesigned frame and the 250 cc C15 engine also exploited an advantage of being the biggest capacity motorcycle a learner rider in the UK could use before passing a motorcycle driving test.

The BSA C15 did, however, require careful maintenance and as well as oil leaks and electrical faults there were problems with the gearbox, failures of the valve gear, weak big-end and problems with the adjustment of the clutch. Originally, the distributor sprouted from above the R/H side of the gearbox; but in 1965 the distributor was moved to the right side of the engine.


The BSA M20 was a British motorcycle made by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) at their factory in Small Heath, Birmingham. Initially viewed as a near failure by the War Office in 1936, the M20 evolved into one of the longest serving motorcycles in the history of British military motorcycling, as well as becoming the most numerous type produced for World War II with 126,000[1] in active service, so many are still in use around the world today.


At the outbreak of World War II BSA were Britain’s largest motorcycle manufacturer with a long history of armaments supply to the armed forces. Designed by Val Page the BSA M20 started development in 1937 as a heavy framed sidecar model with a simple 500 cc single cylinder side valve engine. It had low compression and plenty of low end torque through a standard BSA gearbox.

Early K-M20 models from 1939 were made from standard civilian parts with the addition of military fittings, such as a large 8-inch Lucas DUl42 headlight (fitted with a black out mask), a timing-gear cover with a screw-in plug for access to the magneto drive-pinion nut and special filler caps for the petrol and oil tanks. These early military M20 models were also fitted with a long spiked prop stand on the rear nearside pivoted from a lug brazed on to the rear frame tube. Factory ledgers show that BSA exported K-M20 models to Sweden, South Africa and India, as well as civilian dealers and distributors.


From October 1939 the K-M20 was designated the W-M20 and modified to include girder-forks and removal of the valanced rear mudguard. During late 1940 some civil specification M20s were purchased by the War Office which were civil models with a military paint scheme. In 1941 front and rear number plates were removed and between 1941 and 1942 active service use in North Africa showed the need for easy adjustment of the fork dampers. Special damper knobs were made of bakelite (later replaced with pressed steel). The DU142 headlight was replaced with a smaller 6 in Lucas DU42, with a hooded, slotted black-out shield, and a universal L-WD-MCT1A tail light was fitted.

From 1942 there was a shortage of rubber so handlebar grips and foot pegs were replaced by canvas covered metal items and production was standardised, with only minor modifications until the end of World War II.By early 1942 a new large rear carrier was fitted to hold universal WD steel pannier-frames and bags. This meant repositioning the long prop stand to forward of the nearside rear wheel spindle nut. In 1943 further modifications were made include redesign of the crankcase sump shield and fitting of the Vokes high capacity air cleaner, which was a box shaped canister on top of the fuel tank and was intended to assist operations in dusty environments. In early 1945 a push-button switch was introduced for the headlight and the main lighting switch relocated to a bracket beneath the offside of the saddle.

M24 Gold Star


M24 Gold Star

1939 bikes carried the KM24 engine and frame number prefix, again starting at 101.

Numerous changes were made for 1939, including a new petrol tank with tank-top instrument panel which housed Lucas ammeter & light switch, the oil pressure indicator button and a Lucas mobile inspection light. A new shape oil tank was fitted, with the frame-mounted tool box below and behind it. A short side-stand was added to the nearside lower frame rail.

The 8in Lucas Headlamp reverted to a plain shell, a valanced rear mudguard was fitted, the exhaust pipe profile became more angular and the silencer lost its separate tail-pipe.

The magnesium gearbox shell was dropped in favour of aluminium alloy, and a close ratio gearbox was offered as standard, with the option of the wider ratios of 1938. Minor external changes were made to the cylinder head and barrel pushrod tunnel, and the engine breather was moved to the upper nearside crankcase. Internally, improvements were made to the timing gear and pushrods, an additional ball bearing was added on the timing side of the crank shaft, and minor changes were made to the carburation.

Production continued until the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, when BSA production largely switched to War Department orders for WD M20 military bikes. The last KM24 bike made, KM24 422 was despatched on 6/9/39 to the War Office. A total of 298 KM24 bikes were produced, and of these,120 were despatched to destinations outside the UK.

BSA M24 Gold Star

Year of manufacture: 1938 (1939 model)

Engine type: ohv single-cylinder four-stroke

Capacity: 496cc

Bore x stroke: 82 x 94mm

Compression ratio: 7.75:1 petrol, 12.5:1 alcohol

Lubrication: dry sump recirculating

Carburettor: Amal 10TT

Ignition: magneto, Lucas Magdyno

Electrics: 6v, rectified, Lucas E3HM dynamo

Transmission: chain primary and final drive, four-speed footchange

Frame: triangulated cradle in high tensile steel tube, no sidecar lugs

Suspension: front sprung girder front fork, rear none

Tyres: front 3.00 x 20, rear 3.50 x 19 (1939), 3.25 x 19 (1938) ex-factory

Brakes: both 7in sls drum

Fuel capacity: 3½ gallons (1939), 3 gallons (1938)

Weight: 346lb

Wheelbase: 54in

Seat height: 28½in

Power: petrol 28bhp @ 5250rpm, alcohol 36bhp

Top speed: 92mph (Motor Cycling, 1938)

Fuel consumption: 50-90mpg depending on riding style. Motor Cycling, 30/3/1938 averaged 62mpg

Price new: £77-10-0d (£77.50)


The BSA B31 is a motorcycle that was produced by Birmingham Small Arms Company.

The BSA B31, introduced in 1945, was the first new model introduced by the company after the Second World War. Based on pre-war designs, it used a single cylinder four stroke engine that displaced 348 cc (21.2 cu in). Initially, it had a rigid frame and telescopic forks, the first use of such on a BSA. It developed about 17 bhp (13 kW), adequate for the roads of the day and enough to deliver a top speed of around 70 mph (110 km/h). It was immediately popular and was soon joined by a 500 cc (31 cu in) version, the BSA B33 and competition equivalents, the BSA B32 and BSA B34; the side-car version, with stiffer suspension and different final demultiplication, was known as BB31.

Plunger rear suspension was offered later, with a swingarm rear suspension frame available from 1954. The model continued in production until 1959, by which time the traditional Lucas magdyno had been replaced by an alternator and coil ignition.

The B series expanded through its life to include the famous BSA Gold Stars, and the bottom half of all engines has much in common with the M series side valve models. The M33, designed forsidecar work, combined the strong M series frame and the better-performing B33 500 cc overhead valve engine.

BSA Blue Star

BSA Blue Star 300px-Beeza_BSA_1935_Blue_Star_1

The BSA Blue Star is a British motorcycle made by BSA at their factory in Small Heath, Birmingham. The Blue Star range was produced between 1932 and 1936. In 1936 a slightly uprated sports version called the BSA Empire Star was launched with the Blue Star remaining in the model range. In 1937 an entirely new engine designed by Val Page featured in the Empire Star and the Blue Star was dropped from the range. The Empire Star developed into the famous Gold Star in 1938 (also known as the M24).

The B33-3 O.H.V. 249cc Blue Star was called the Blue Star Junior and the R33-5 348cc O.H.V. Blue Star was known as the Sporting Blue Star. It was the W33-8 499cc O.H.V. that became the most popular, however, and led to the development of the Gold Star.It was known as the “sea beezer” and it was BSAs fifth best seller.

Bsa j34-11

Bsa j34-11

1934_j34-11_v-twin_bsa_right The model j was was 18% more expensive than other 500cc single cylinder overhead valve motorcycles such as the w34-8, while being not as powerful (.01 less hp). few were sold to the public and therefore the j34-11 motorbikes are rare finds today.

It was manufactured as the first of the so-called “high camshaft” motorcycles. this new technology used shorter push rods for better performance. these were the things the old farts had to do to get a little more power out of a v-twin as opposed to a more simple single or even an inline-twin. while not a big consumer seller, the model was specifically made for the british army, who thought the cost-to-power ratio was novel, so 700 were made between 1933 and 1936.



bsa-y13-1-2303By the onset of World War II, BSA was one of, if not THE largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. They were making great success of their line of singles, lead by the BSA Gold Star. They’d done a few V-twins in the past, primarily for sidecar duty, but their business was singles & no one was better at it than BSA.


Like every other British motorcycle company at the time, BSA Motorcycles wanted into the vertical twin business, once Triumph had launched their seminal 500cc Speed Twin in 1938. They wasted no time & jumped right in with their own Val Page design. But alas, history intervened, World War II started & all production was diverted to wartime purposes. But, as soon as the war ended, BSA resumed work in earnest. The design & basic architecture was contributed to by not only Val Page (JAP, Ariel & Triumph), but by Joe Craig (Norton & AMC), Herbert Perkins, David Munro & even Edward Turner himself (Ariel & Triumph). Numerous prototypes were built between 1938 & 1945 before production was reached.


What emerged was a vertical twin cylinder engine with cast iron cylinders & head, a vertically-split aluminum crankcase, with the cam behind the cylinder block. The pushrods passed through an integral tunnel inside the cylinder block casting, to the rocker box. The crank pins were arranged inline (360-degrees) providing for one power stroke for every engine revolution. The bore & stroke were 62mm X 82mm for a displacement of 495cc. It was considered by many to be the quintessential British vertical twin of the era. It produced 26hp at 6000rpm.


The crankshaft was pressed together out of 3 parts with plain big end bearings & one-piece connecting rods. The silicone alloy pistons were flat-topped with a compression ratio of 7.0:1, to accommodate low octane ‘pool’ petrol available the Brits at the time.


BSA called their new cylinder head ‘monobloc’, designed to provide excellent air flow over, under, around & through all the hot parts, with large openings between the cylinders & under the rocker boxes. The widely-splayed exhaust ports & the rear pushrod tunnel aided in this.


The BSA G14 was, by the 1930s, a far-from-advanced piece of kit. But the qualities it possessed were still popular – and indeed still are today. This G14 has been restored by well-known Hertfordshire restorer Robin James and is a super example.

The British heavyweight side-valve V-twin reached its zenith in the 1930s, with models like this G14BSA proving popular with sidecar men especially. Long of wheelbase and of stroke, the big twins provided plenty of lazy power, delivered with the minimum of fuss – and revs – in a smooth, continuous and unthreatening wave. Gearchange was normally by hand, but that didn’t matter as speed wasn’t of the essence – changing gear was barely necessary anyway, with the big twins able to lope from low speeds, with the ignition retarded, up to their cruising speed – with ignition advanced on the way – in top gear.

Heavy flywheels

Though the 1000cc motor probably produces no more than 8/10bhp, it has lots of torque, thanks in part to the immense, enormously heavy flywheels. There is a four-speed gearbox, which is hand-change (in fact, the gearbox is the standard BSA four-speeder, turned on end to fit in the frame). Robin doesn’t rate the gearbox – all machines are thoroughly run-in and fettled before delivery so he puts in plenty of miles on them himself – saying that the best technique is to, “Give it a big handful in bottom then go straight through to top…”

Rider’s heel

The rear brake is operated by a pedal at the rear of the left-side footboard, supposed to be operated by the rider’s heel. However, I found that the footboards meant that it was awkward to get to and one would have no confidence in an emergency of being able to get there in time… so I settled on an ungainly ‘one foot forward, one foot back’ stance, with my right foot inside the leg shield and the front of my left foot ‘balanced’ on the very back of the footboard, behind and outside the leg shield.

The long swept back bars give a tiller feeling to the steering, more early 20s than late 30s, though it affords an ideal riding position for gently cruising. The wheelbase feels long from the saddle – as it indeed of course is. The BSA features twin twist grips – the right-hand one controls the throttle in a normal manner, while the left one is the ignition advance retard. Robin’s advice was to use them in tandem with both being twisted towards the rider under acceleration, which further reducing the need for gear changes. When rolling off the throttle, ‘roll off’ the ignition too, thereby meaning there’s no need for a downward change.

BSA Model E

The BSA Model E was a British V twin motorcycle manufactured by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) at their factory in Armoury Road,Small Heath, Birmingham from 1919. It was often used with the matching BSA sidecar.


bsa-model-eThe BSA Model E was the first of a series of successful V twins based around the reliable 770cc side valve engine with cylinders at an angle of 50 degrees. The modest 6hp produced by the engine was able to provide a top speed of 55mph and it had BSA’s own design of three speed gearbox with the drive chain enclosed in an aluminium casing. There was an increased demand for affordable transport after the end of the war and the Model E became popular with BSA’s matching green and cream painted sidecar option.

Designed for easy servicing the valves were interchangeable and had quickly adjustable tappets. The constant loss oil pump was supplemented by a hand operated pump and the wheels were also quickly detachable and the same size so that they were interchangeable.