According to the seller, the 74 cubic inch V-twin motor in this intriguing speedway custom was once able to produce around 160 horsepower. Do I have your attention yet?
Let’s go back to 1963. The Australian father-son duo of Clarry and Allan Meirs had a business rebuilding JAP speedway motors for years when they decided to see if they could do better themselves. Turns out, they could. Check out this wonderful article on Cyber Motorcycle for some details on Meirson Speedway Motors (named after Meirs and Son) – an interesting tidbit is how they would guarantee their motors: “You can’t guarantee a racing engine that gets all hell revved out of it in three-minute bursts while swallowing heaps of dirt, yet the Meirs did just that, rebuilding each damaged engine to keep faith with the client, accepting all the costs to build a reputation for service. New pistons, new valves, new barrels, anything the engines needed.” They never got up to any sort of full-scale production, but the Meirs ended up offering three different displacements of their pushrod motors for budding racers – 350, 500, and 604. Interestingly enough, there’s one comment on that Cyber Motorcycle story – it’s from September of last year and it’s by the builder/seller of this bike as he started his quest to learn more about Meirson motors.
MSM would go on to experiment with other options, such as twin-cam motors. According to the seller this motor was built as a prototype for possible V-twin production. It started as a 74 cubic inch Harley-Davidson 46U flathead motor – the Meirs kept the bottom end and then “created their own heads, cylinders, and internals making a 1000cc v-twin with a 15:1 compression ratio producing 160HP. The engine’s valve train was adapted from a Coventry Climax motor (early 1960’s Formula 1) along with early JAP rocker arms.” The story gets better – this motor supposedly won all 15 races it competed in, prompting accusations from competitors that there was some trickery afoot – specifically that it was displacing more than the class limit of 1,000cc. Back to the seller: “Allan and Clarry Meirs returned to their shop and disassembled the motor to prove it’s displacement to the officials. Shortly after the engine was stolen and never seen or heard of again (Allan claims it’s also very possible that his father Clarry secretly sold the motor, and reported it stolen.)”
Either way, the motor somehow ended up as a piece of wall art at the personal shop of Jesse James. A previous employee of his is a gentleman named Patrick Tilbury. Patrick currently owns Royal-T Racing and he is the seller of this bike. You can probably see where this is going. Half a century after the motor was reported stolen, Patrick started a search to find out the story of the interesting Harley-based engine. He was able to track down Allan Meirs, who gave him the history and some specs to help get the motor rebuilt. After the bike was completed (obviously as a speedway racer to keep the tradition going), it was shown at Born Free just a few weeks ago and Allan flew out from Australia to see the motor again. At this point I should probably clarify that the original claimed horsepower figure of 160 is only attainable on methanol at a 15:1 compression ratio. Nowadays the ratio is closer to 14:1 and the carbs were tuned to run on race gas.
It’s a great story – and I haven’t really written about the bike itself yet! You should peruse the listing for specific details of who did what, but highlights of the work include a 304L stainless steel custom frame, custom aluminum bodywork, dual Lectron 36mm carbs, Talon wheels, custom stainless steel exhaust, and a lovely custom paint job inspired by a pack of Newport cigarettes. I assume the buyer of the bike would want to talk to Allan as well, but what a great story! The bike ain’t too shabby, either.
Find this intriguing custom for sale in New Orleans, Louisiana with an unmet opening bid of $45,000
This bike-uriousity brought to you by Patrick T!