One of last classic Velocette motorbikes ever made arrives at the museum.

An image of the 1967 Velocette motorcycle with the superimposed text saying Velocette MSS 500cc

They were a classic British motorbike brand known for quality and endurance and now one of the last Velocette bikes ever made has gone on display at the Lakeland Motor Museum.

The 1967 Velocette MSS 500cc has been donated to the popular Cumbrian museum in memory of the owner’s late sister who lived in the Lake District area for 35 years.

Ken Ogilvie with the restored 1967 Velocette MSS 500cc

📷: Ken Ogilvie with the restored 1967 Velocette MSS 500cc

Ken Ogilvie, from Southwell in Nottinghamshire, bought the motorbike back in 1977 before carefully restoring it and using it for over 30 years.

“I was a trainee chartered accountant at that time with very little money,” says Ken: “So buying a car was not an option!”.

“My first bike was a 1957, 350cc Velocette MAC. It was an absolute rust heap but reliably took me around for a few years! I then went working in South Africa and Botswana for ten years but on one trip home saw the MSS 500 up for sale and thought I’d buy it.”

The Velocette as bought in 1977

📷: The Velocette as bought in 1977

It cost him five hundred pounds. Restoration was put on hold as work commitments, marriage and children pushed it down Ken’s list of priorities. Eventually he found the time and with the help of acknowledged Velocette expert Geoff Dodkin set about restoring it to its former glory.

The late Sixties were the last years of production for the classic Velocette motorbikes. They were made by Veloce Ltd, a small family firm in Birmingham, which finally closed in February 1971.

“I saw the handwritten manufacturing logbook for this bike and it said it was one of the last 30 machines ever made,” says Ken.

A previous owner had altered it to look more like a sportier Velocette Venom. It also had a Venom full width front brake hub which Ken believes was fitted in the factory during assembly. It’s believed the last Velocette machines were assembled using any available parts at the factory.

An original drwaing from the marketing materials for the motorbike

“As any Velocette owner will know, it wasn’t easy finding parts,” says Ken. “But over the years we set about bringing it back to its original condition. It was comfortable to ride and always reliable.”

As he got older however, it proved harder to manage and even kick start. “My poor old knees are not as strong as they used to be so kick starting the machine became a bit difficult if you didn’t fire it first time!”

That’s when he and his family decided it should go to a museum rather than being sold with the obvious danger of being stripped down for parts.

Over the years he’d made many visits to the Lake District area to see his sister Chrissy who lived in Grange Over Sands. They took trips to the Lakeland Motor Museum and loved its homely, friendly atmosphere.

Chrissy Ogilvie pictured in October, 2021 during a visit to Thirsk Bird of Prey Centre

📷: Chrissy Ogilvie pictured in October, 2021 during a visit to Thirsk Bird of Prey Centre

“Chrissy was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died last year,” explains Ken. “My family and I felt it would be a fitting tribute to donate the motorbike to the Lakeland Motor Museum in her memory.”

The Curator of the Lakeland Motor Museum, Chris Lowe, says: “We really appreciate Ken’s generosity in donating the Velocette motorcycle for the enjoyment of our visitors. It is an excellent example of the Classic British motorbike and shows the fine engineering and craftsmanship the firm was known for. It is a welcome addition to our display of 60 vintage, veteran, classic and modern motorcycles”.

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