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For almost all of its sixty years as a producer of motor cycles, BSA had the distinction of being the biggest in Britain and on occasion, the world. This guide details six of BSA's best-loved models from the "classic" post-war period, a time when the British motor cycle industry was still the envy of the world.
BSA A7 Star Twin
Resembling the Val Page 650cc Triumph twin of the early 1930s in employing a single camshaft at the rear and with the gearbox bolted to the crankcase in semi-unit-construction style, the original 495cc Model A7 BSA was intended for 1940. Very quiet and distinctively BSA, it appeared among the second wave of BSA offerings in late 1946 and quickly established a good reputation.
If there was one product that typified all that was so right and good about the British motor cycle industry then surely it was BSA's over-engineered 350cc single-cylinder B31. The new B31 was the first to resurface after the war and constituted the "promise of good times to come", which had been the company's slogan while the fighting was on. Good for over 70mph and 75mpg, the workhorse B31 was hugely successful for BSA. It was their first machine to use telescopic forks and with its bigger brother the B33 (499cc), made up the backbone of the BSA singles range throughout the 1950s.
BSA A10 Golden Flash
The use of an all over finish of pale golden beige produced what many BSA enthusiasts feel is the most handsome BSA of all, the appropriately named Golden Flash. The 646cc overhead valve vertical-twin engine was the work of Bert Hopwood, though based on an earlier Bert Perkins design with a single camshaft situated at the rear of the cylinder block. A main stay of their vertical-twin range for several years, the A10, was developed for the USA and became a forerunner of the Rocket series which culminated in the Rocket Gold Star of the early 1960s.
BSA's, and indeed the British industry's all-time best selling motor cycle the Bantam, started life as a three-speed 123cc two-stroke in 1949 and instantly caught the public's attention, for petrol was still rationed and these early bikes could top 50mph and yet return up to 125mpg. The enlarged D3 Bantam Major arrived in 1950 with plunger rear suspension and 1958 brought the 175cc engined models with swinging-arm frames. Production continued in volume to 1971 when the top of the range model was the four-speed D175.
BSA Gold Star
Few clubman racers have enjoyed the success or reputation of the "Goldie". The range was produced in trial, scramble, touring and racing versions. The 500cc engine developed up to 40bhp at just over 7000rpm through a close ration gearbox. Top speed was around 110mph in full clubman trim. Most coveted of all the "Goldies" was the 499cc model DBD 34.
BSA Rocket Gold Star
The Rocket Gold Star of 1962 was a very quick hybrid compounded of a tuned A10 engine and gearbox with a Gold Star frame and fuel tank. A variety of "go faster" options were available for the RGS and these included a track silencer (claimed to increase output to 50bhp) and headlamp wiring with plugs and sockets to give easy removal. Never very successful in production racing though, the model was discontinued in 1963. Perhaps best remembered as a fast, stylish and reliable road going motor cycle in the A10 tradition.