from https://www.autoevolution.com/ by Daniel Patrascu
At the turn of the last century, a time when horse-drawn carriages turned into automobiles and bicycles into motorcycles, most of the companies active back then wanted a piece of the new action, and turned their businesses around to include the production of the new mechanical wonders.
So did a British enterprise that went by the name Triumph Engineering, which used to make bicycles. Which, if you come to think of it, are just like motorcycles, only without engines, hence easy to re-make.
And that’s exactly what Triumph did with one of its bikes, fitting it with a Minerva engine and opening the doors to a history that has spanned so far for 120 years. That production motorized two-wheeler came to be in 1902, but as you can imagine, a prototype had to be made before that. A prototype that, like many others of its kind, was considered lost for a long time, despite rumors surrounding its existence floating around.
Extremely conveniently-timed, the first 1901 Triumph motorcycle prototype just resurfaced, having been uncovered by a collector named Dick Shepherd, and put back into the spotlight by the company itself.
According to the available details, attesting to the motorcycle’s authenticity are the engine number, “consistent with references in Minerva’s engine records of a 1901 first Triumph engagement,” and a “letter from Triumph, dated in 1937, that outlined the bike’s unique origins and provided key details.”
As far as we understand, the bike was uncovered some time ago, as the collector had time to restore it.
“As a lifelong passionate fan of the history and achievements of this incredible British brand, to have discovered this amazing survivor and restored it to the glorious condition it would have been in when it first went on display in 1901, has given me an immense amount of satisfaction,” Shepherd said in a statement.
The prototype will be, of course, included in the celebration events the British company has planned for next year, and it will be shown, together with the millionth Triumph manufactured in Hinckley, in a special display being set up at the factory.
4 DECEMBER 2021 – An amazing historic find, discovered and restored by leading vintage Triumph collector Dick Shepherd, the 1901 Prototype rewrites the history books, adding a whole new chapter prior to Triumph’s official sales starting in 1902.
Long rumoured to exist and referenced within advertising and reviews that appeared in 1901, this first Triumph prototype was developed from a standard Triumph bicycle, with an engine provided by Belgian manufacturer Minerva, in order to generate interest and gauge the public’s demand for a Triumph motorcycle.
Dick Shepherd said “Having been approached by a friend of a collector, who had sadly recently passed away, to evaluate an old Triumph I was incredibly excited to discover that the bike they had featured unique details that were not present on the first production Triumphs. Along with the bike, the collector had also received a letter from Triumph, dated in 1937, that outlined the bike’s unique origins and provided key details.”
“With an engine number that is consistent with references in Minerva’s engine records of a 1901 first Triumph engagement the historic significance of this motorcycle became incredibly clear.”
“As a lifelong passionate fan of the history and achievements of this incredible British brand, to have discovered this amazing survivor and restored it to the glorious condition it would have been in when it first went on display in 1901, has given me an immense amount of satisfaction.”
First unveiled at the UK’s Motorcycle Live show the 1901 prototype will feature in dedicated event at Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience on the 14th December, where the machine will be ridden in public for the very first time in over 100 years.
This incredible, historic motorcycle will then be on display, alongside the millionth Hinckley Triumph, in a new, specially created 120-year anniversary display, hosted within Triumph’s Factory Visitor Experience.
The Triumph Factory Visitor Experience is free to visit and is located at Triumph’s HQ in Hinckley, England and is open daily Wednesday through Sunday, from 10am – 4.30pm.