Top honours for motorcycle icons at Salon Privé

A fabulous Moto Guzzi owned by Sammy Miller was one of three bikes that scooped top honours at this year’s Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by Aviva. Recognised as the most prestigious such event in the UK, Salon Privé takes place in the magnificent grounds of Blenheim Palace and is a partner concours of The Peninsula Classic Best of the Best Award. It’s renowned for featuring some of the most beautiful and coveted cars and motorcycles from around the world.

This year’s two motorcycle classes spanned nearly 75 years, from a 1901 Triumph 3/4 hp Minerva to a 1975 MV Agusta 750 Sport. Each was assessed by a hugely knowledgeable judging panel comprising broadcaster Henry Cole, historians Dennis Frost and Mike Jackson, former racer Steve Parrish and Chief Judge Nigel Matthews. Judging took place on Wednesday 1 September, with all trophies being awarded on Thursday 2 September.

It was championship-winning racer Sammy Miller who scooped top honours in the Competition Motorcycle Class with a 1951 Moto Guzzi Bicilindrica 500cc V Twin. Judge Steve Parrish said: “The Moto Guzzi Bicilindrica 500cc V Twin had the longest career of any motorcycle racing bike ever. Actually, Ducati in some ways copied the engine configuration to make the successful racing Ducatis that we see nowadays. It was way ahead of its time in terms of technology. The bike was raced by the great Bob Foster and Stanley Woods and put in some incredible performances both on road and track, claiming victories at the Isle of Man TT and Grand Prix. The judges all agreed that it’s a very special motorbike and a real beauty.”

Second place in the Competition Motorcycle Class went to a 1973 Yamaha TZ 250 A, entered by the Sawford family, owners of St Neots Motorcycles. The family are experts in restoring two-stroke motorcycles from the 1970s and 1980s. Parrish continued: “The motorcycle is better than when it came out of the factory – absolutely original and exquisitely put together. It had to be in the top two, what with its authenticity and how it’s been built – stunning. We were also delighted to be joined by 1970 250cc World Champion Rodney Gould, who was instrumental in the production and development of the bike.”

Topping the Exceptional Motorcycles class was a 1975 MV Agusta 750 Sport, often referred to as the most beautiful bike to come out of Italy and revered as an icon of the 1970s. An original and beautiful machine, the winning example is one of the last three to come out of the factory and features a rare left-hand gearchange.

Second place was awarded to a 1973 Rickman-Metisse Cafe Racer. Judge Henry Cole said: “It’s wonderful to see several Metisses here paying homage to its founder Derek Rickman, a consummate biking enthusiast and a legend in my eyes who passed away recently. What a great way to celebrate his life. The Café Racer in this class is a beautifully customised, really genuine yet individual bike that has been put together with a huge amount of love and passion, and to the judges that’s what we’re after.”

The Duke of Marlborough Award was presented to the 1901 Triumph ¾hp Minerva. Steve Parrish said: “This is the very first Triumph motor bicycle ever made – the forerunner of all subsequent Triumphs. As in everything Dick Shepherd does, it’s been lovingly restored, and he’s put together a motorcycle that would be befitting of it coming out of the factory in 1901. I suspect it’s even better!”

Henry Cole added: “It’s quite a find for Triumph to have in their 125th anniversary year and one that we had to honour.”

Alongside the concours entrants was multiple Salon Privé award winner and renowned motorcycle builder Allen Millyard displaying his beautifully engineered Kawasaki Z1 Super Six. Elsewhere on the lawns of Blenheim Palace, there was the debut of Thornton Hundred Motorcycles, one of the world’s fastest-growing custom motorcycle brands. The British company’s line-up included the ‘World’s Fastest Bobber’ – a 202bhp technological tour de force – and a 2021 Triumph Bonneville Bobber Black, both were a Salon Privé debut.

“All of our motorcycles exude individuality and exclusivity,” said Jody Millhouse, the man behind Thornton Hundred and part of a new wave of engineers who are at the cutting edge of the custom scene. “We want to give owners a unique modification experience, and those values align perfectly with Salon Privé. It’s great to be here showing off our latest designs against the amazing backdrop of Blenheim Palace.”

Italian exotica brand Bimota made its UK public debut with the Tesi H2. The limited-production, supercharged Bimota Tesi H2 is built around a Kawasaki Ninja H2 powerplant and features the famous Bimota hub-centre steering system, while the chassis is covered with carbon fibre bodywork. Power output is a staggering 242hp (178kW).

Crazy Horse made a welcome return to Salon Privé showcasing a superb collection of its customised Indian Motorcycles, including the KH Street Hooligan. The Hooligan shares the great styling of its racing relative, but is fitted with all the relevant components to make it a fully functional street machine without losing any of its iconic flat-track racing looks.


Salon Privé Concours d’Elégance presented by Aviva 2021 – Motorcycle Award Winners


Class:                           Competition Motorcycle

Winner:                       1951 Moto Guzzi Bicylindrica 500cc V Twin

Runner-up:                  1973 Yamaha TZ 250 A


Class:                           Exceptional Motorcycle                    

Winner:                       1975 MV Agusta 750 Sport

Runner-up:                  1973 Rickman-Metisse Cafe Racer


Class:                           Duke of Marlborough Award

Winner:                       1901 Triumph ¾hp Minerva

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