Follow Motorbase:
Search Motorbase for

Lot 418: 1928 McEvoy-JAP 8/45hp

Collectors' Motorcycles, Bonhams (16 October 2005)

A regrettably short lived marque, McEvoy produced machines from 1925 to 1929, its most famous creations being the fearsome Anzani and JAP-powered v-twin racers. Ridden by works rider George Patchett, McEvoys achieved numerous successes at Brooklands in both solo and sidecar trim, helping to establish an enviable reputation for the fledgling concern.

Old Etonian Michael McEvoy founded the eponymously named marque in the Derbyshire village of Duffield while he was still employed as an engineer at Rolls-Royce’s Derby factory. The first McEvoy appeared in 1924 and the firm made its Motorcycle Show debut at Olympia the following year, by which time Michael McEvoy had severed his connection with Rolls-Royce. Models exhibited were 350cc Blackburne and 500cc JAP-powered singles and a 1,000cc Anzani v-twin. In 1926 McEvoy’s range expanded to included a JAP 8/45hp overhead-valve v-twin, a state-of-the-art super-sports model guaranteed capable of 100mph. That same year the company relocated to larger premises in Leaper Street, Derby and there were important additions to company personnel, ex-Brough man George Patchett joining as Competitions Manager and C A ‘Archie’ Birkin, brother of ‘Bentley Boy’ Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, coming aboard to provide financial backing.

It had been McEvoy’s intention to produce bespoke motorcycles for wealthy and discerning customers in the manner of George Brough, but whereas Brough’s pre-eminent position meant that he never had to deviate from this policy, McEvoy was soon adding models to cover almost every capacity class, even down to a 172cc Villiers-powered lightweight. Nevertheless, his ambition remained undiminished and in 1928 McEvoy exhibited an all-new four-cylinder model plus a range of overhead-cam singles at Olympia. In reality though, these were little more than mocked-up prototypes and none ever reached production. Earlier in the year Archie Birkin had lost his life practising for the TT races, and the loss of its major investor would prove a crippling blow for McEvoy.

The company was wound up and in the process ‘CH 7437’, the machine offered here, came into the possession of another of the firm’s private investors, Major John Clowes. Subsequently the machine was bought by famous motorcycling all-rounder Alf Briggs, Eric Houseley’s one-time employer, from whom Eric later acquired it. Many years later the McEvoy was featured in Old Bike magazine - Issue 20, Winter 1996/97 - which may well have been the last occasion that Eric Houseley rode it.

The frame number ‘8128’ indicates that this machine is frame number ‘8’ manufactured in the 1st month of 1928, while every enthusiast knows that the JAP engine’s ‘KTOR’ prefix identifies it as the legendary 980cc overhead-valve racing unit. Elsewhere the McEvoy incorporates the best proprietary components available including Sturmey-Archer three-speed close-ratio gearbox, heavyweight Webb forks and Royal Enfield cush drive rear hub. The handlebar controls and twin-float Amal carburettor are later modifications thought to date from the 1950s.

Pre-war v-twins, especially those of the vintage period, are highly sought after by collectors and none more so than rare overhead-valve sports models from prestigious manufacturers such as McEvoy. The machine is offered with Swansea V5 registration document.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcycles
Bonhams, Classic & Motorcycle Mechanics Show, Stafford
Lot Number418
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£59000
Hammer Price (inc premium)£66400
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis number
Engine numberKTOR/C11224
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors