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1920 Gnome et Rhone Pictures

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Many thanks to Howard for this picture of his 1920 Gnome et Rhone (French ABC). These machines are very rare, only a handful left in one piece. This bike started life in Avoca, Tasmania back in 1921 and was sold to Norman Temple for £106.
Mr Temple only owned it for a short period and it ended up back at the dealers in Hobart, they had trouble selling it so it was eventually packed off to Berry & Roach in Melbourne, it must have been a hard one to find a buyer for because it then ended up in another dealers hands, Milledge Bros managed to sell it on 19th March 1923 (Monday) for £65 to Harry Beanham. Harry was an ABC enthusiast, he later tried very hard to purchase every ABC in Australia, a feat he would have almost achieved I imagine.

Harry owned Allparts Pty Ltd, a motorcycle wreckers business founded in 1927; he had depots in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Harry has been described as a “motorcyclist from the bootstraps up”…..he had a couple of cars in his life, a mid 1920’s Rolls Royce and a slightly later Daimler (both cars are still around), he still rode his LE Velocette to work everyday until a “Yank” knocked him off on the Sydney Harbour Bridge…he was 90 at the time! He worked 6 days a week until he fell whilst going up some stairs to show a customer an SS80 Brough Superior he had for sale, he broke his hip and had a stroke and died a week later. The customer still regrets not seeing the Brough.

When a complete bike of interest came into the shop Harry would sometimes put it aside and keep it himself, he would then buy a school exercise book and keep very detailed records of the bike from the day of purchase, even recording the day of the week he got it (remember 19th March 1923 was a Monday, it was also mentioned in the book for the G & R that its 61st birthday was also a Monday) Harry owned the bike for 73.5 years and it was his favourite machine even though he owned many more bikes much more powerful..Brough’s, 4 cylinder Zundapp, Super X’s, Enfield’s and twin AJS’s. Later in life he took a liking to the LE Velocette (a modern ABC really) and had about 35 of them when he died.

It took 6 or 7 auctions to get rid of all Harry’s collection…..Harry was worth nearly $50 million.

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  • Year: 1920
  • Decade: 1920s
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