Bikes head north for 100-year celebration

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INVERCARGILL’S reputation as an active hub of transport museums will be reinforced with the loan of two iconic motorcycles and the Burt Munro streamliner replica to the MTA100: Car Show of the Century being held in Wellington.

Stephen Winteringham, a member of the Southland Motorcycle Club and the organiser of the Burt Munro Challenge beach race, will be the custodian of the valuable vehicles, including the transportation and display of them while they are at the show.

The show was another opportunity to promote the Burt Munro Challenge and Invercargill as a transport destination, he said.

Mr Winteringham said he had been approached by MTA board director Judy Lange after meeting her at last year’s biennial Motorcycling New Zealand conference, which celebrated 100 years of Motorcycling New Zealand, where he had organised the streamliner and movie bike to be on display.

“The question she asked me was ‘what bikes or riders would be the most suitable to represent New Zealand’, and the immediate names which came to mind were John Britten and Burt Munro. Both are considered Kiwi icons and innovators,” he said.

Among the trio of vehicles from Invercargill will be the motorcycle usually displayed at the Southland Museum & Art Gallery which was made as a movie prop for the 2005 Burt Munro movie The World’s Fastest Indian, and the streamliner replica usually displayed at E Hayes & Sons, as well as a Cardinal Britten, the first of only 10 built. The Britten, which was used to set four world speed records in 1994, can exceed 310kmh and has been on loan by Britten Family Trust to the Classic Motorcycle Mecca since its opening last November.

Classic Motorcycle Mecca curator Dave Roberts said the Britten trustees had loaned three Britten bikes for public display on the understanding any of them could be relocated.

“One of the conditions was that if any of them needed to go for a suitable display for a time period, it could go.”

Adding to the Wellington display will be items previously owned by Britten, including his leathers, boots and other items, as well as Munro memorabilia.

Britten (1950-1995) was a mechanical engineer who designed and custom-built motorcycles with innovative features and materials which were used to set world records, while Munro (1899-1978) set several New Zealand land-speed records in the 1940s and 50s. He was also an international legend. On his first trip to the Bonneville salt flats in the United States in 1962 he set a speed record of 178.98mph. He was aged 63. He travelled to the salt flats a further eights times and set two more records.

Asked why motorcycles would be part of a car show, Mr Winteringham said: “There would be quite a few old cars with race history, and an electric truck… but motorbikes also had their place in the nation’s vehicle history and that was why we were asked to take some up.

“There may not be a big amount of bikes, but they are the most significant.”

Among the 100 or more vehicles, a Rinspeed concept car, some of the latest and concept models, electric vehicles, and Chris Amon’s Maserati are expected at the show, which will be held in the TSB Arena and car park, and Shed 6, in Wellington, from April 28-30.

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