The bi-annual Vintage Revival Monthléry just enjoyed its fifth iteration.  It is, simply put, the finest old car / bike track event in the world, because it’s free of barriers, tiers, or VIP ropes: everyone can go anywhere, except onto the track itself (unless you’re a competitor or press), for understandable reasons.  Regardless the enormous value of many of the cars and motorcycles flung around the track, VRM is incredibly democratic, and everyone is free to enjoy, annoy, take photos, ask questions, and get in the way.  In short, it’s glorious.  The following are photos taken by my iPhone, of various (mostly) motorcycle engines.  All the vehicles participating are pre-1940, and many are pre-1910!  A further exploration of the event will follow.  This photo set is a pure indulgence in the beauty of early 20th Century industrial design.

A genuine Norton Brooklands Road Special ca.1916: motorcycling at its most basic, with a sidevalve 500cc motor, a direct belt drive, and a rear brake (the front wheel has a stirrup brake, but it’s useless). I consider this machine the world’s first factory cafe racer, being a racing replica built explicitly for road use. Norton also built a Brooklands Special for track use, proving that motorcycle manufacturers knew what riders really wanted from the dawn of the industry was a racer on the road. [Paul d’Orléans]
A 1934 New Imperial 350cc Grand Prix model, from a company whose light- and middle-weight racers did extremely well in the late 1920s and ’30s, winning plenty of TTs and GPs. [Paul d’Orléans]
One of the very rare OHC V-twins built before the 1980s! This Koehler-Escoffier 1000 ‘Quatre Tubes’ is one of perhaps 6 survivors, and this example is reckoned as the most original. A fantastic beast! Much like the Cyclone, it has a total-loss oiling system for its camshafts. [Paul d’Orléans]
If you’ve never seen such a machine before, that’s because nobody has seen one for half a Century: it’s a reproduction of a Motosacoche DOHC V-twin built in the 1920s, and an amazing job. The cam drive is by shaft-and-bevel, then gears. [Paul d’Orléans]
The backside of the terrific Motosacoche V-twin. I’m always amazed at the work involved in making such a machine from scratch. [Paul d’Orléans]
Another incredibly rarity – one of one!  This 1912 Contrast racer uses a 350cc OHV JAP V-twin, one of three made for the Isle of Man, and probably the only vertical-valve survivor of this type. [Paul d’Orléans]
A gorgeous Terrot sidevalve V-twin in Art Deco style. Love the green! [Paul d’Orléans]
A moped attachment by Le Poulin, circa 1950s, being put into traction mode by its rider. [Paul d’Orléans]
A TT Replica Panther! Panther made a small number of very special racers and replicas for the Isle of Man TT in 1929. The frame had extra struts from atop the cylinder head, as seen here. It’s a 500cc OHV big single, and a lovely, perhaps original paint example? [Paul d’Orléans]
The aero engine brigade! I’m not sure which WW1 era OHV V-8 this is, but it’s become a trend to install such in an old auto chassis and built a hot rod around it. Amazing! [Paul d’Orléans]
Another fantastic aero-engine special with V-8 power! [Paul d’Orléans]
Another lovely Terrot, this one likely a 250cc sidevalver from the early 1930s. [Paul d’Orléans]
Gnome et Rhone produced some of the best aircraft radial engines in WW1, and turned to motorcycle production afterwards. This 1928 500 D2 racer has a lovely OHV motor. [Paul d’Orléans]
A flat-tank Norton Model 18 is always a joy to behold; this example is especially clean. [Paul d’Orléans]
An Indian 8-Valve from Yesterday’s: I asked ‘Is it real?’, and they said ‘What do you think?’. There are no real ones is what I think! It’s a beautiful bruiser though, and Montlhéry is the only place you see authentic board track machines in use – there was a whole racing class devoted to them! [Paul d’Orléans]
One of Harry Hacker’s amazing Harley-Davidson specials using JD bottom ends and 8-valve top ends, with built-in patina. This was the fastest and meanest-sounding bike at Montlhery, with 70hp at the rear wheel! [Paul d’Orléans]
Another use for a big JAP V-twin: powering a Morgan trike! Twin carbs and likely 80hp, they sound amazing and are fun to watch! [Paul d’Orléans]
The King of Brooklands! A big 1914 Zenith with Gradua gear belt-drive, and a later twin-cam JAP racing engine. Power! The big casting up front is a clutch system. [Paul d’Orléans]


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.
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