My 1942 BSA Trike - Before and after

Uploaded 4 Dec 2012
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© Etan Doronne
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More of Etan Doronne’s Photos

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Israel. It was 1989, I had just released from 3 years in the Israeli army field corps and was ready for a new project.

In my parents backyard lay 7 NSU Prinz cars, lined up to be salvaged for parts in favor of the one running I had restored over 4 years of school breaks and later army weekend vacations. But it was no more running. About a year earlier I had blown it's 600cc twin cylinder last breath and ever since lay along the curbside.

The new project, I envisioned, will be a vehicle i can work on without breaking my back bending and digging under the hood. An open engine compartment. At the same time, not a motorcycle which I didn't trust to be safe in my hands or on Israeli so-so maintained roads and drivers behavior.

So through my long trained automotive scanning eyes I dug up that hybrid of motorcycle and light pickup truck. It was a vanishing breed at those days. Only two handful of elders were still waiting on corners or roaring the Jaffa-Tel Aviv neighborhoods with the pulsating puffs of WWII power plants.

The story goes like this: The British empire took over Israel, back then Palestine, after WWI and ran the land and it's people up until 1948. During WWII their army in this area was equipped with BSA 500cc motorcycles. Another country under their regime, India got the Royal Enfield500cc. The technology was similar: a tubular iron frame with an upright long stroke 500cc mono cylinder. The chunky rpm of these vibrators could be counted easily by a naked ear, both in idle or cruising.

In 1948 the colony was left to it's own karma, after the UN resolution in favor of an independent Israel. Left behind were abandoned army bases with immense stocks of military machines and equipment, among them an estimated thousands of BSA's.

The country went into a fever of development which was long awaited. The Brits had previously practically banned any construction of new villages, towns or cities and now came a need for light pickup for apartment moving and light supplies delivery around the plateau of Tel Aviv and neighboring cities. The 500cc bike were just powerful enough and affordable power plants and quick workshops converted many into trikes of various types: some with tubular frame other with open profiles and a variety of rear axles, reverse/forward switch gearboxes, drive shafts and brake hydraulics - all reused from available old cars parts.

For about a week I just walked the Alenby, Ha'Aliya, Ha'chashmal, Salame, Derech Yafo streets asking anyone that seemed somehow related if any of those is for sale. If I was especially lucky to catch up with a parked one while the drivers was around of course I asked them too. But soon it came clear that these old drivers and trikes destiny were wrapped together. Read the full story on:

2 responses

  • Geoff Plant

    Geoff Plant gave props (5 Dec 2012):

    Great colorful collage . My first motorbike was a B.S.A C15.

  • Etan Doronne

    Etan Doronne said (7 Dec 2012):

    Would love to read your story and see those photos of your B.S.A C15. You've got my props A+ even before you've posted. Thanks for commenting.

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