1972 BSA Bantam Wassell Trials Special

Highlights

  • In nicely patinated, usable condition
  • Engine runs well
  • Formerly owned by BSA works rider Bill Faulkner

The Background

Once upon a time, the BSA Bantam was the archetypal small motorcycle. From 1948 until 1971, it sold in large numbers and could be seen all over Britain as the bike of choice for impecunious motorcyclist as well as for the novice. 

Originally fitted with a 125cc engine, which was increased to 150cc and finally 175cc from 1958, it was not only the ideal bike for learners, but its low running costs also made it a convenient fleet bike. A number of companies, most prominently Royal Mail, used Bantams as workhorses.
Of course, their low cost and ready availability meant they soon fell into the hands of trials and scrambles riders who modified their Bantams for off-road racing. While they were all typically built by simple and inexpensive means, many took advantage of the products offered by Wassell, a motorcycle spares and accessory business established in 1946.
Wassell became well-known for its beautiful alloy tanks and mudguards which adorned many trials bikes during the ’50s and ’60s, but it was in 1972 that it began offering the ultimate package.

Although the Bantam had gone out of production the previous year, they remained ubiquitous on the road and off it, and Wassell débuted its very own frame kit for the Bantam at the 1972 Manchester Motorcycle Show.

It was enormously successful, and ultimately resulted in Wassell moving into the production of complete motocross and trials bikes.

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The History

This bike is understood to have been owned (and possibly assembled by) Bill Faulkner, a BSA works trials rider in the ’50s and ’60s. Faulkner was the son of a local BSA agent, so he became infatuated with the marque from early in life. 

His first taste of competition was in a club trial in Henley-on-Thames in 1952, aged 16 and riding a Bantam. He entered his first national competition the following year.
Arguably the peak of Faulkner’s career was when he competed in the 1965 International Six Days Trial on 1963 B40 Enduro Star. He won a bronze medal, beating the various BSA works entries, which all retired. 

Faulkner also started running his own motorcycle shop, and in later years continued to be well-known as a collector and restorer of classic motorcycles. His collection extended well beyond 30 bikes, and trials bikes were a particular theme.
When Faulkner decided to part with this Wassell BSA, he sold it a gentleman who now lives in America. From him, it passed to the present owner. Suffice it to say, it has been treated much more sedately in recent years than in its early life.

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The Paperwork

There is no paperwork with the BSA and unfortunately no documentary evidence of its history. However, we believe the information provided by the vendor to be true and accurate, and it’s a great starting point for further research.

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The Condition

For an old trials bike, this Bantam really looks to be in fabulous condition. Without knowing specifics of its history, we can do no better than speculate, but we’d say it’s an all-original Wassell bike which was used only sparingly in period. 

A few cosmetic blemishes are apparent on close inspection, but there is nothing which is obvious from a distance and we find the light patina distinctly appealing.
It may be seen that the paint has cracked on the side panels, but it remains extremely bright and vivid, and really hasn’t suffered much for a type of bike which typically receives some quite rough treatment. 

The seat is in very good condition, the plastic mudguards display only a superficial patina with the odd light scratch here and there, and all the bare metal is, we think, made more attractive by its weathered appearance.
Bidders will note that the frame is not stamped or numbered, suggesting that it is a Wassell frame rather than a BSA one.

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The Mechanics

The 175cc engine starts, runs and sounds very good. There are no faults that we know of, although it has been a long time since it was really ridden in earnest so a few checks would be advisable before subjecting it to any serious use.

It may need some light recommissioning, but we do not think it is likely to require much before it is fit to be trialled once again.

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The Appeal

There is so much to be said for motorcycle trials. It’s a low-cost, grassroots sport which anyone can get involved with, it’s a fairly low-speed event so it’s very safe as motorsports go and, most of all, it’s a lot of fun. All motorcycle enthusiasts should give it a go at some point in their lives.
Anyone who is already fairly au fait with trials will appreciate the merits of both the Bantam and the Wassell frame, and know that it would most likely be competitive in classic events.

On the other hand, this is a highly original bike with some fascinating provenance, so you might think it more deserving of a slightly more cosseted life in a collection.

Either route sounds entirely worthwhile to us, so the choice is yours. Whether on the move or standing still, here is a bike which is sure to bring satisfaction.

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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

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Auction FAQs
Auction Details
  • Year 1972
  • Make BSA
  • Model Bantam Scrambler
  • Colour Red
  • Mileage 0
  • Engine size 175
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Horley
  • County Surrey
  • Country United Kingdom
  • Auction ends
Bidding history
13 Bids from 10 bidders
  • gn•••• £1,500 13/03/22
  • ja•••• £1,400 13/03/22
  • ja•••• £1,300 13/03/22
  • fa•••• £1,200 13/03/22
  • sm•••• £1,100 13/03/22
  • ne•••• £1,000 11/03/22
  • sm•••• £900 09/03/22
  • ru•••• £750 09/03/22
  • ro•••• £650 08/03/22
  • sm•••• £550 08/03/22

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