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Homepage. This page: Memories of a trip undertaken in 1964, touring Europe on a classic Velocette 350.

1953 Velocette MAC.

Anthony dropped me a line, recounting the epic European trip that he undertook in 1964, on a classic 350cc Velocette MAC motorcycle. Here are his words, and a selection of photos showing not just his Velocette, but also a Venom Clubman, and a swish Type 55 Bugatti seen in Ajaccio.
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"Please find attached some surviving photos from my trip of July/August 1964 to France, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Corsica and back through France. It took six weeks and I slept in a tent most of the time, except when visiting friends en route. That was nearly 46 years ago.
The 1953 Velocette MAC in the pictures was bought in London after an unseemly haggle with the owner on the pavement. He wanted 50 pounds, despite its poor mechanical condition. I got it for 18 pounds in the end and did some essential overhauling over the ensuing weeks. By the time I had it running sweetly (including new piston, valves/guides, gearbox /clutch overhaul etc), I had spent 50 pounds total on buying the bike and the parts.
Anthony's Velocette MAC and a friend's Venom in Haute Savoie.
(Please click the thumbnail to see a larger version.)
A 1953 Velocette MAC alongside a Venom Clubman
There were a few bumps on the way, but it was solid machine that would hold nearly 70mph all day. It was completely safe and predictable in its braking, handling and road-holding – long live the British single (can’t say the same for the twin)! I stuck with Velos, later owning a KSS and, for many years, a Clubman’s Venom.
Repairing a puncture in Italy.
Repairing the Velocette's puncture
A Velocette, although reliable in all major ways, is a bike you can mend if you have to. If I had a puncture (that’s me in the picture repairing the tube in Tuscany) or a break-down, I repaired it at the roadside… as when the exhaust rocker came off due to a sheared bolt in the cylinder head casting, sending a huge tongue of flame back through the Amal and over my jeans, in a dangerous place! I made the repair alone beside the Route Napoleon in the south of France, successfully hurrying to beat the on-coming night fall. There was no insurance in those days to take my bike home or give me my baby’s bottle!
Beside the Route Napoleon, with rocker cover and timing cover etc all removed to sort out a rocker problem.
Repairing the Velocette's puncture
The first three weeks of the trip were ridden in the company of a fellow student on his Venom (DEX 15). Having a worn big end on the bike, he was taking it easily and the two Velos ran happily in unison. Roaring through Paris, later Geneva, Vienna and then Florence, taking the Alpine passes, sailing on the ferry to Corsica and rushing around the wild scenery of that beautiful highland, these were some highlights of the trip …
… plus, of course all the camp-sites, bistros, trattorias and bierkellers imaginable, and working in a Corsican restaurant to top up my wallet. Local interest was high in most of the Mediterranean places – the old-timers and the young village speed-freaks loved the sight and sound of a pair of thoroughbred singles with fish-tail exhausts. That’s the way we were!
Yrs, Anthony (Kigali, Rwanda, Africa)"
The Velo and a Type 55 Bugatti on the waterfront in Ajaccio, the Corsican capital.
Bugatti Type 55
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Thanks so much for sending the story over! Visit the motoring memories homepage at oldclassiccar for more stories like this.
A period photo of a Venom Clubman can be seen here in the vintage photo gallery.

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