Show Off In The South

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The nights are drawing in which means it must be time to enter your classic bike for the autumn Ardingly Show…

You’re a classic bike enthusiast and you live in the south. It’s nearly October and you’ve got the urge to spend some time with other Britbike owners. Stafford is a heckuva long way to travel, and the autumn event concentrates on Japanese and more recent machines anyway. What to do and where to go?

Easy. Join us at the South of England RealClassic Motorcycle Show at Ardingly on Sunday October 14th. All RealClassic subscribers qualify for discounted admission; just show your RC Club card on the gate to pay the OAP rate. Better yet – bring your classic along to display for the day, and you’ll be given a pass which admits you AND your pillion for FREE. All show entrants stand the chance of winning an award in a range of classes (most old bikes are eligible to be judged in several different categories). One lucky winner will have their bike rated as our ideal ‘RealClassic’ and will see their machine featured in the magazine. All Show entrants go home with a souvenir mug, no matter what, and get to enjoy a great day for free… so get your entry in quickly, as places fill up fast.

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Previous winners have included Dave Piggott’s 1929 Model A, one of the fabled Black Ariels from the pen of Val Page, which took the RealClassic award earlier this year. Dave Harding’s handsome 1970 A65 Lightning: regularly used on the road, this is one of the final pre-OiF models and was restored in 2006. It took a runner-up prize at the last Show.

David Bushell’s 1938 Scott prototype Clubman Special was featured in RealClassic 98 after winning the Best Pre-1950 class. Built in 1938, this bike is one of only four pre-production models made. Another worthy winner was Eddie Wallbank’s interesting outfit. His 1952 Vincent Rapide has been fitted with a Steib 501 sidecar and extensively modified for sidecar use with 13-inch wheels, close-fitting mudguards, disc brakes, modified and lowered seat.

Steve Elston regularly attends this Show and always brings with him an interesting machine or two. Last time out he took back the Best Competition Bike prize with him, for his unique 1950 Earles racer. Built by Ernest Earles, the man who designed Earles forks, this special was designed for use on grasstracks and road race circuits. It was raced by Cliff Bennett and Charlie Salt and is fitted with a 350cc JAP engine and one of the first all-alloy frames. The frame weighs only 20lb including the swinging-arm and suspension units.

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An Earles racer, yesterday...

As you can see – we get all sorts at the RealClassic Show! You can download an entry form from or call 01797 344277 for a form. This show is for older machines so you’ll need to enter a bike built before 1980 – although if it’s something very special then organiser Mrs Elk may give you special dispensation.

Of course you’re very welcome to ride to the Show on any bike you like, although only pre-booked machines qualify for free entry, will be displayed in the indoor hall, listed in the programme and will be judged for awards. If you do enter your classic but then find that you can’t attend please advise the organiser (Mrs Elk – not RCHQ!) so that someone else on the waiting list can be given your pass.

A Moto Morini (behind the Rapide outfit) and some lens flare, yesterday...

You’ll find the Show at the South of England Showground at Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL. The Show opens to the public at 10am so display bikes need to turn up as early as possible to be in position before the gates open. The awards are normally presented at around 3pm, so it’s best to plan on staying on site for most of the day. You’ll be allocated a number and shown where to park your bike in the hall; please check in at the organiser’s desk and collect a pre-prepared display sign which gives the public and judges the basic info about your machine. You’re very welcome to add more details!

This Show has grown considerably over the years and now sprawls out of the main display hall and into three further agricultural halls with trade stands and autojumble stalls. The concours displays feature a broad range of private entries, including British, European, Japanese and American classics, while the club stands usually reflect the major marque clubs (VMCC, Triumph, BSA, Norton, AJS & Matchless) and more unusual manufacturers and models (Indian, Bantam) as well as local groups (Cinque Ports, South London, Deal and District, Sussex and so on). More clubs are very welcome to attend en masse; please let Mrs Elk know in advance so she can allocate a suitable space for your members.

A Francis Barnett club, yesterday...

This all means that the hall fills with a variety of motorcycles from all eras; roadgoing, trials, competition and even wall of death display machines. There’s so many bikes that the biggest problem is getting everyone lined up in neat rows…

The RealClassic stand is normally in the main Showbike hall, near the lobby doors (conveniently close to the conveniences!). We will have the new long-sleeve RC tees for sale; hopefully will have stock of taller binders to suit the new super-size magazine, and definitely will bring have HobNobs and Jaffa Cakes to share with all RC readers. So there’s no need to mope about this autumn, even if the weather is awful. With any luck at all we’ll have a brisk, bright and golden day with clear roads and clear skies – the perfect opportunity to take a spin on your old bike.

See you there!

Prizes! Prizes!

Prizes are awarded to a variety of old motorcycles at the South of England Show, so if you enter now then you might go home with one of these awards:-

  • RealClassic
  • Best Pre-1950
  • Best 1950 to 1959
  • Best 1960 to 1969
  • Best 1970 to 1980
  • Best Competition / Special
  • Best Heavyweight
  • Best Lightweight
  • Best British
  • Best Overseas
  • Best Club Stand

  • Ariels on ..

    Jumble! Spares!

    The ever-expanding motorcycle-only Bikejumble at Ardingly features tons of new and used spares, bikes, clothing and accessories for sale, and a free ‘Bikemart’ for the sale of private machines. You just pay the usual admission fee and then park your bike up with For Sale signs displayed.

    The additional halls are usually full of spares specialists and traders, like Paul Goff with his electrical gubbins; Len Craig for new British spares; the chain and sprocket stall; Rusty Rescues; stainless components; Skye Classics for Triumph spares; complete carbs or jets and refurb kits; covers, calendars and clothing; brake shoes and re-lining services; books, brochures and manuals; plus local dealers and many more. It’s the ideal place to track down an elusive part, find an interesting ride-away machine or pick up a new project.

    Details! Details!

    The RealClassic South of England Motorcycle Show and Bikejumble is on Sunday 14th October 2012 from 10am at the South of England Showground, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TL. See


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