1928 The Bill Skilton Special Early Speedway Custom
Rudge Frame. JAP Competition Engine
The first speedway meet for New Zealand motorcycles was conducted at English Park, Christchurch, in 1928. Kilbirnie provided a Wellington venue in 1929 and Western Springs was first used for motorcycle speedway in Auckland that same year. Connected to the 1927 Ariel (Lot 2), this machine also has the DNA of Val Page but with a much stronger focus on what was fast becoming the most popular sporting spectacle of the day - speedway. Joining JAP in 1928, Page was interested in the production of purpose-built race machines and the newly emerging speedway scene was fertile territory. JAP had long been known for building some of the most aggressive and well-balanced motors of the period but, with Douglas having already produced the first purpose-built speedway machine a year earlier, JAP concentrated on producing powerful engines to be housed by proven designs. With this, JAP was, and has remained, the power plant of choice for speedway racers. The 1928 engine number on this machine denotes that it was a customer special order for competition use. Completed during the late 1940s to early 1950s by Bill Skilton of Pahiatua, this machine offers all his hallmark considerations. The specialist Douglas frame is from a slightly later period than motor, perhaps 1938. Offering all the battle patina of a machine that has outrun its original masters, the Skilton Special is a very convincing piece of machinery and a wonderful reminder of how early bike builders, working with the look and feel of a machine, got the first principles pretty much spot on from the get go.