The Banbury run is the biggest VMCC-sponsored event in the calendar, and is generally limited to 500 machines, ranging from 1897 to 1930, and they turned away hundreds more. The event is held on the grounds of a school in the eponymous town, which clearly has the capacity to park 500 motorcycles, plus a hundred or so post-vintage machines in the adjacent fields, and a large autojumble to boot. Top two pics show how crowded the grounds became as the day began, especially when the motorcycles were flagged off individually on a 40-mile regularity run in the surrounding countryside.

A rare Velocette Ladies Model of the early 1920s, beside another Velocette two-stroke H3 model: until they introduced the overhead-camshaft K model in 1925, Velocette was known for building quality two-strokes.  They carried on building improved versions of these machines through 1949. [Paul d’Orleans]
First off, an 1897 Leon Bollet Tandem. I watched the riders chuff away for a while, but it takes a long time to get 500 bikes out of the car park when they must stop to be photographed before leaving. Luckily, the autojumble (pic 3) was humming, with lots of bikes and parts for sale. Pic shows a lineup of interesting machines from just one stall. I saw several Velocette KSS’ available, as well as Pioneer and Vintage machines of all stripes, from European to American.

When electrical switches were an event: the Lucas bakelite knob on a NUT V-twin. [Paul d’Orleans]
The next set of pix show Velocettes! A 1923 Ladies’ Model, similar to the one Keith from Oz has restored, with a USS behind. Below is a 1913 Model A 203cc two-stroke, which belongs to Ivan Rhodes, and is among the oldest Velos still extant. I doubt the paint is original, but it looks great in patina green. Single-speed belt-drive, and note spare belt on the carrier – they do break! I’ve ridden this machine, and it’s… slow. But as an admitted Velo man, an important piece of history for me.

Ancient Veloness: a 1914 Velocette Model A two-stroke. [Paul d’Orleans]
The variety of machines held great appeal, but not enough Continental iron is on display – only three machines (Leon Bollet, BMW R47, and a D-Rad). There were likewise only four Yank bikes (two Indians, one Harley, one Henderson). Still, the Connaught with Bradbury ‘Oil Boiler’ engine is a rarity, especially pulling a sidecar. It’s a 1922 293cc, so they’re not going anywhere fast. What’s in that big bag? Note crankcase castings which cover the cylinder for the oil cooling arrangement, inside the unit-construction engine with a wet sump cast into the cases.

A Connaught with Bradshaw oil-cooled motor. [Paul d’Orleans]
Next pic is a Brough Superior 680cc ohv model, which is lovely as are all Broughs – George knew how to style a machine better than Edward Turner of Triumph, and that’s saying something. Given the GTO engine with exposed rocker gear, I’d say 1927 or so. My favorite machine of the day was this Sunbeam Model 90, ca 1927. It has been lovingly modified by a doting owner, and a click on the pic will show how. Twin front brakes with a balance beam a la Vincents (and a double-cable brake lever), friction tape on the handlebars, plus lots of subtle touches which make the machine unique, and very much the owner’s machine, and not another replica showbike. Pic below is the ‘yes hop on’ shot – love the curved magneto and air levers, which is different.

A 1929 Brough Superior 680, the affordable Brough, or the ‘little SS100’. [Paul d’Orleans]
Next machine is ultra-rare and very interesting. A Wilkinson four, made by the Wilkinson sword factory (where your father’s shaving razor likely was made as well). Four cylinder water-cooled engine (read our article ‘Fours Before Honda’), plus a very comfortable-looking seat upholstered in tuck-and-roll leather! Swank. Earlier models had a steering wheel instead of handlebars.

Ancients and rarities: a super rare Wilkinson 4-cylinder. [Paul d’Orleans]
Below that is the other end of the luxury spectrum – a wooden scooter! It’s a 1922 Autoglider Deluxe 2 1/2hp, which the owner says is ‘a bit unusual with suspension wobbles at both ends’! Pic shows owner Alex Taylor aboard the approx. 300cc two-stroke, with it’s engine above the front wheel – never a great location for stability, but it’s easy to make adjustments on the road! Plus, checking your fuel level is easy, with the petrol tank mounted to the handlebars…. Note the crowds in the background; this shot was taken mid-morning, when half the riders had been flagged off individually (you can see their paper place-markers on the ground), and the remaining riders are suited up and awaiting their number to come up.

The wooden chassis of the 1922 Autoglider Deluxe 2.5hp scooter. [Paul d’Orleans]
The lovely Brown NUT (Newcastle Upon Tyne) caught my eye, a very thorough restoration and a neat machine, ca 1921. 600cc sidevalve JAP engine, and detail photos show a profusion of NUT logos cast into the timing chest and muffler, and below that is the largest and most ex-domicile electrical switch I’ve ever seen on a motorcycle. Look at that wiring, very tidy, very Victorian.

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne gives the acronym NUT, a sporting machine of the late ‘Teens through the Depression, with TT wins and sporting successes early on, but most ‘built up’ bikes suffered terribly in the Depression, and vanished in 1930/31.  Note the lovely cast aluminum muffler box below the JAP engine, and the very early Lucas Magdyno. [Paul d’Orleans]
More rarities; a brace of Ner-a-Cars [read our Road Test and history of Ner-A-Car here], one with an AJS sidevalve engine, the other with perhaps a JAP sidevalve. Very similar, but different, showing how difficult it must be to restore a machine with such a low production run, but with so many individual touches. I liked seeing double.

A very rare, English-version Ner-A-Car with a sidevalve engine, beside the usual two-stroke version seen in the USA.  This was made in Britain under license.. [Paul d’Orleans]
Last but far from least, the most charismatic motorcycle at the rally; a McEvoy with JAP ohv KTOR 1000cc engine. Racing sidecar attached, twin carb setup, long racing tank with loops to attach a belly pad, mighty headlamp stolen from a car, dirty, glorious, noisy, and RIDDEN. This motorcycle is worth nearly as much as my house, but a dedicated owner keeps it on the road, and looking terrific.

Potent! A MacEvoy-JAP 1000cc OHV was a sports racer built in very limited numbers, and a rival of the Brough Superior, with a slightly rougher edge. This one came complete with twin carburetors – a rare feature on a 1920s machine. [Paul d’Orleans]
The MacEvoy seen from above, and its sporting sidecar with multiple mounting points for stability. Note the carbs peeking out from beneath the gas tank, the soldered loops for strapping a cushion onto the tank, the direct handshift knob for the Sturmey-Archer gearbox, the quick-release fuel and oil caps, the steering damper, and the third lever on the left handlebar: clutch yes, valve lifter yes, but also an oil squirter for the JAP engine. [Paul d’Orleans]
A pair of Neracars, as described above. Still the most popular hub-center steered motorcycle ever produced, with over 10,000 examples built. [Paul d’Orleans]
Tempting examples at the autojumble area: care to join the fun? [Paul d’Orleans]


Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.