I grew up in northern Canada during the 1970’s, when the highlight of the month was to run down to the village shop and pour over the latest issue of Dirt Bike magazine, reading about the exploits of Bob ‘Hurricane’ Hannah, ‘Bad’ Brad Lackey, Broc Glover, Roger Decosta and the many others. Super Hunky (remember him?) did his best at turning simple racing stories and bike articles into wild teenage boy fantasies. And then occasionally would be an article about Can-Ams. It was only thing that ever appeared in the magazines that was Canadian. I spent hours staring at the ads and articles dreaming of those bikes.
Roll on nearly 30 years, I find myself living in England and reading about those same adventures in Classic Dirt Bike and VMX magazines. But now I have the money to indulge in the bikes that were once a fantasy.
In a sleepy village in Berkshire, England, lives my collection of bikes. I concentrate mainly on the enduro models, the TnT and Qualifiers, and can be found at most vinduro events or stalking EBay for the next item in the collection.
My Bikes (well not all of them, but my favourites)
1973 125cc Track and Trail
1973 125cc TnT aka Old Number #10. Bearing the serial number 384100010, this makes her one of the earliest Can-Ams. Sourced off Ebay, the bike was imported from the USA a number of years ago and is complete, including the original early style fibreglass air box and seat. The bike has only 800 miles on from new and was in very good original condition. The bike has now been fully restored, with the only real parts being replaced were the wheel rims, shocks and tyres. The rest was restored and repainted, with replacement plastics. It is probably the earliest Can-Am in Europe.
174 125cc MX-2
1974 125cc MX2 nearly 40 years old, but still looking gorgeous. She was found via a market stall at the Stafford show. Arriving in boxes and incomplete, but with all the key components including a matching frame and motor, she is in the final stages of a restoration. The story that came with the bike was that it had been originally imported when new by a leading racer in the Manchester area where he achieved local success in motocross. The bike was recently sold to another collector in France were he intends on racing it in vintage motocross.
1980 125cc MX-6
1980 125cc MX-6 that has now had a sex change operation and has become a Qualifier: A short but brutal race career has left her with battle scars and a damaged frame which has now been substituted with a NOS Qualifier frame. Therapy has given her new plastics and a general tidy up, making her a very good Vinduro bike.
1977 250cc MX-3 Black Widow
MX-3 250 Black Widow – a bike with real pedigree. Having been owned by Swedish collector Ruben Mild and then owned by Fluff Brown of AJS Stormer fame (ask your Dad!). This bike is one of the three original Can-Am’s imported into Sweden to start a dealership. Unfortunately up against the infamous Husqvarna and being very expensive they remained unsold for several years with Ruben Mild purchasing all three bikes in the early 80′s. How the MX-3 ended up with Fluff is a mystery. The bike was in storage for nearly 25 years until it was liberated by me. I have no plans to restore it, but leave it with its beautiful patina.
The bike is currently being raced by Rod Spry and features in the current edition of Classic Dirt Bike http://www.classicdirtbike.co.uk/news/the-black-widow
1980 250cc “Fluff Brown Can-Am”
One of only 5 Fluff Brown Can-Am’s made, the bike was purchased about a year ago. But looks are deceptive. After purchase I discovered a number of very odd ideas about how a bike should be bolted together, including a motly collection of imperial and metric bolts! The previous rebuilder seemed to follow the adage of don’t repair, just spray some paint over it! Currently disassembled and being rebuilt in the spare bedroom. I hope to have it together for showing at the Telford 2013 Classic Off-Road show.
1977 250cc Qualifier
An original Qualifier 250 with matching enduro build engine. A poorly described bike on EBay turned out to be a 1976 Qualifier with matching correct enduro build motor. The bike has been rebuilt over the past year and will be raced in a couple of Vinduro events this summer, including the Auroux in France.
1980 250cc Military
1980 Military now sporting Qualifier plastics and more colourful paint, making it a “wanna-be”. I had looked for a long time for an original Qualifer, before I found one, so in the meantime I converted a military bike. The bike is now back in the haystore as I plan on converting into another special. I just happen to have a spare 283cc trial motor converted for sprinting, 18″ chrome front and rear wheels……….
1984 240cc Trials
Slow and steady, an original 1984 240 trials bike. Thanks to John at www.armstrong-trials.co.uk I am now the owner of an original trials bike. The bike has been disassembled for some time and needs a full rebuild, but soon I hope to be pottering around with feet up some time soon.
1973 125cc TnT
An original 1973 TnT125, complete with matching motor, Ella was found at a bike shop here in the UK where it had stood for nearly 20 years. Sat sad and lonely in an attic of a storage barn, Ella will need to a lot of work before she hits the street again. Unbelievably after all time the motor simply unbolted and even turns over.
The Herd: So many bikes, so little time. In various stages of completeness, I have another 10 bikes ranging from Qualifiers to Military models. All will be rebuilt, but not all restored. Hopefully in the coming years I will find the time to covert some to dirt trackers and other flights of fancy.