Page 74. 1964 Velocette LE 200 (BGP 70B) for Restoration – SOLD £440

1964 Velocette LE 200 Mark III for restoration

Registered ‘BGP 70B’ with V5 Registration Document. No Reserve.

For ebay auction: PLEASE CLICK HERE

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This delightful old ‘LE Velo’ has had one owner most of its life; he gave up commuting on it in 1979, since when it was parked up in his garage until I bought it recently. Andy collected it for me, as it was located in a small Suffolk village in his area. We’ve done nothing with it. The engine turns over fine. The joys of LE Velo restoration will be left to the new owner.

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As a collector of oddities, I see the LE Velo as the epitome of ‘cross-category’ vehicle design, a styling concept that became popular in the fifties with the ‘scooterette,’ which combined motorcycle, scooter and moped with the suggestion of car-like features.

Although earlier vehicles such as the 1920s Ner-a-Car provided a model for this ‘2-wheeled car’ concept, I believe Velocette’s inspirational ideas for the first LE in 1948 encouraged other manufacturers to take those giant leaps of faith resulting in the wonderful machines that now epitomize the fifties.

The postwar era was a time of amazing design concepts. Many prototypes never made it into production; other weird and wonderful machines bankrupted their manufacturers. I admire the companies that dared to be different. I’ve owned many LE’s over the years; the only one I’ve kept sits on a shelf behind me, the model in the picture above (not for sale). The LE Velo Club started in 1950. Here’s their ‘History of the LE Velocette’ –


After the Second World War was over, hostilities and rationing were still a way of life. It was these factors which influenced Velocette’s chief designer, Eugene Goodman, to propose a radical motor cycle design for the masses. It was decided that a design had to appeal to both sexes, all physiques and ages. From these parameters Eugene came up with the L.E. (little engine). It was radical for the day, with all the details as listed below show, but it did not make a very attractive motorcycle to a lot of people’s eyes.

However, ownership proved differently as the features came to the fore. Velocette were so enthusiastic about the design that production at their factory was mainly dedicated to this product, whilst manufacture of their famous singles was sent to a back seat. This particular decision later proved significant in the demise of the company. The average motorcyclist of the era looked upon the L.E. as a strange oddity and not a true Velocette by named reputation, and shunned it for the more conventional motorcycles, such as the B.S.A. Bantam etc., which, by specification, were cheaper.

But Velocette were not too bothered, as their main target was a new sector of the public wishing cheap to run transport. The initial MkI was introduced at the 1948 Motor Cycle Show as the “Motorcycle for Everyman”. It had masses of new and innovate features such as: A four-stroke, side valve, water cooled, horizontally-opposed twin cylinder engine with a forward mounted radiator to cool its cylinders and heads. A generator and coil ignition was provided, unheard of then for small engines, which aided easy starting. Primary drive gearing fed a car type multi-plate dry clutch into a three-speed gearbox. The engines, primary gear, clutch and gearbox were housed in integral castings. The final drive to the rear wheel was by shaft drive. This shaft drive was mounted in a swing frame with coil spring suspension that could be adjusted from the outside of the rear mudguard, another first for Velocette. Carburation was unique to this engine with a specially designed Amal unit based on car type principles, i.e. multi-jets and butterfly valve. This carburettor was mounted on a manifold common to both heads.

Eugene was following his basic concept of a bike for all and it was thought that changing gears and kick starting with your shoes would scuff them, and what about ladies’ in high heels? Legshields in polished aluminium were provided along with footboards rather than rests. This was both with a view to weather protection and ease of riding, as the rider was able to move his feet while travelling. Heat from the cylinders provided comfort in cold weather. The overall riding height was built to give 28″ from the sprung saddle to the road, thus giving a low centre of gravity, again for easy riding. At the top of the leg shields the instruments were mounted. Initially there was a speedo and trip recorder, lighting switch and ignition switch. Built-in pannier frames were provided for carrying luggage within quick release canvas bags. The overall weight was about 260 lbs., which was very good for the day considering it, carried water-coolant and 2.5 pts. of oil in the wet sump.

The overall ride was and still is superb, the pressed steel frame giving very good strength. The engine was mounted on rubber to deaden vibration and the underside of the steel frame lined with felt to remove any traces of drumming. In combination with the four stroke water-cooled side valve engine and good silencer, a quiet and purring note was obtained. In traffic the only way you knew that the engine was running was by noticing that the ignition light was out. In these early days, before the compulsory use of helmets, it was possible to ride in the countryside and see and smell as well as hear. This combination of superb specification and Velocette’s obsession with fine engineering, made competition with other manufacturers somewhat difficult to achieve, the MkI selling at £126.00 against the B.S.A. D1 Bantam at £76.00. This cost was high due to Veloce’s obsession with fine engineering. however, its unconventional looks ensured that overall sales and initial targets were not achieved.

The initial 150cc L.E. Mk1 produced 6 bhp with an overall top speed of 50 mph and gave a return of approx. 95 mpg. Built-in luggage space in the shape of integral pannier frames and bags, a hinged glove compartment/toolbox forward of the petrol tank, a quick detachable rear wheel and battery accessibility gained by lifting the hinged seat, and even a built-in licence holder, are among the bike’s features. A glove compartment? Instruments, switches and an ignition light, all mounted dashboard-like on top of the legshields? A radiator to top up? A car-type wet sump? A gear stick? A car type clutch? All these show the lateral thinking involved in the L.E. This was, in effect, a two-wheeled car, yet the full-sized wheels, the excellent rigid chassis and the exceptionally low centre of gravity meant that none of the motorcycle’s virtues had been skimped. Titch Allen, the famous columnist, described the LE as “an economy lightweight which ended up as the most sophisticated pure design in motorcycle history”

From the excellent Velocette Owners Club website – http://www.leveloclub.org.uk/

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Well, there it is: BGP 70B in all its glory. There are a few spares that go with it (nothing exciting), and a handbook too. It has a V5, and the number is worth £500+ if you’re into that kind of stuff (ie selling the plate could fund its rebuild). The bike is in sound condition, ripe for restoration, just as we like them – ‘in its own juice’ as they say across the Channel. I’ve got enough restorations on the go. This one’s yours. I’ll start this auction at the 1948 LE Velocette price of £126 with no reserve.

The rest is up to you, fellow enthusiast…

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Published on February 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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