1961 Triumph 6T Thunderbird 650cc

Highlights


  • Black/silver two tone paint scheme
  • Low-ownership for year example
  • Beautifully restored example
  • Just 5 recorded keepers over its 61 years

The Appeal


Triumph was the first maker to offer a vertical/parallel 650 twin, a motor which would offer power and reliability to racers – sidecar rigs included – both in Britain and the US. The model was launched in 1959, with a new and stronger ‘duplex-loop’ frame being introduced in ’59. This late production 1961 example in rear-enclosed ‘bathtub’ touring form incorporates this and the later 19in wheels at the front and 18in on the rear. It also benefits from an alternator and larger engine bearings (from ’59) and an alloy cylinder head in 1961.

It's a machine that comes from Triumph’s heady days of international success and is one that has passed through comparatively few owners – only five since 1961. An added bonus is the bike’s thorough restoration by a Triumph devotee in 1989/1990.

The History and Paperwork


  • Photographic record of restoration
  • Only five owners over its lifetime
  • Authentic specification

As well as sundry invoices for parts from the present owner and others, the bike retains an extensive and sometimes annotated photographic record restoration in 1989/1990, noting such things as the fitting of a ‘correct for year’ cylinder head (from a T110).

The bike has been kept in dry temperature-controlled storage.

The Condition


  • The bike remains in standard factory specification
  • Presented in excellent overall condition

Although the Triumph’s major restoration may be more than 30 years ago, the bike remains in excellent condition, showing only a gentle patina.

The subtle metallic paintwork (more than on most bikes – with the enclosed rear) retains a good gloss and shows no scuffs of any significance. The contrasting black is equally good, and there are no polishing swirls to speak of. The extensive chrome is in fine condition, retaining a deep lustre and showing only minimal blemishes. The headlight surround is excellent and the whole nacelle with its instruments is solid and tidy. The distinctive Triumph badges on either side of the fuel tank make a strong feature.

Further back, the saddle retains all of its shape. The seat material is in good condition, with well-defined, piped edges. Below this, the ‘Thunderbird’ badges show a little degradation to the paint behind, but this is easily correctable and has minimal effect on the whole impression made by the bike, which remains in excellent overall condition.

The Mechanics


  • 650cc air-cooled vertical twin
  • Four-speed gearbox 
  • Fully rebuilt engine

The Triumph’s famous 650cc Twin looks to be in fine fettle, the metal of the cylinder heads, crank case and gear box, showing the deep, muted lustre of care and attention. There are no signs of leaks or corrosion, and all bolts and screws look as if they are easily adjustable. The carburettor is clean and the under-seat wiring appears pretty tidy. This looks like a well attended to motor.

The black enamelled frame appears sturdy, clean and corrosion free. The front forks and rear dampers, while showing a few light scuffs show no signs of leaks and maintain the machine’s tidy, upright stance. Wheel spokes (and brake assemblies) are straight and clean, again with no signs of corrosion or discolouration, and the Avon Speedmaster tyres appear to have a lot of life left in them.
The overall condition inspires confidence.

Summary


This late-production Thunderbird retains all the qualities that made it a fine British tourer – as well as a stalwart British police motorcycle. It’s a reliable and gutsy machine that has been in enthusiast ownership probably all its life. Not many bikes of this age can say that. 

Notice to bidders

This item is sold on an ‘As is Where is’ basis. The condition of this item is the opinion of the seller and may differ from your own opinion. Photos and listing descriptions are for guidance purposes only*.** Car & Classic do not warrant listing accuracy. Full inspection is recommended. Viewings are at the seller’s discretion. Buyer is responsible for delivery and collection of any item purchased.*

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1961
  • Make Triumph
  • Model 6t Thunderbird 650cc
  • Colour Black/Silver
  • Odometer 7,797 Miles
  • Engine size 650
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Carnforth
  • Location Lancashire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
12 bids from 7 bidders
  • ch•••• £5,500 19/11/22
  • ch•••• £5,000 19/11/22
  • Ma•••• £4,200 18/11/22
  • pa•••• £4,100 18/11/22
  • Ma•••• £4,000 18/11/22
  • pe•••• £3,900 17/11/22
  • ki•••• £3,800 17/11/22
  • pe•••• £3,600 16/11/22
  • ki•••• £3,500 14/11/22
  • ki•••• £3,300 14/11/22

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