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Lot 623: c.1922 Lea-Francis 3.25hp

Collectors' Motor Cars, Bonhams (10 September 2005)

Already established as a maker of bicycles of finest quality, Coventry-based Lea-Francis turned to motorcycle manufacture in 1912. Their first model was a refined tourer notable for its advanced chain drive and two-speed gearbox - this at a time when most other machines were belt-driven single-speeders - that featured deeply valanced mudguards and full enclosure of both drive chains. To save time and reduce development costs a proprietary engine was used: the 31/4hp JAP, a 50-degree v-twin of 430cc. Weighing just 220lbs and aided by its two-speed transmission, the new machine proved particularly effective at hill climbing, a valuable asset at a time when motorcyclists were frequently forced to complete ascents by pushing their mounts. In 1924 when motorcycle manufacture was ended in favour of the car side of the business, Lea-Francis had completed just 1,500 machines. Of these, around twenty are thought to survive. Although its date of registration is recorded on the accompanying Swansea V5 as 1927 (three years after Lea-Francis production ceased) ‘HP 642’ (a Coventry mark) forms part of a series issued between 1919 and 1924. The machine was purchased by Eric Houseley around 40 years ago and has been ridden but not restored. It appears complete and highly original: a fine, unmolested example of the marque.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motor Cars
Bonhams, Beaulieu Autojumble, National Motor Museum, Hampshire
TypeMotorcycle
Lot Number623
Estimate£5000-£7000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£7000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£8050
Year
Condition rating
Registration numberHP 642
Mileage-
Chassis number
Engine numberA1146
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors