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Motor Cycle - Triumph Thunderbird, 1951 Object Reg. No: ST 033223

The Thunderbird was one of the most popular British motor cycles of the post-war years, being particularly well suited to the requirements of police forces, sidecar users and club racing. Triumph wanted their new medium power machine to compete with American manufacturers, even giving it a native American name. The Thunderbird, introduced in 1949 features the 649 c.c twin-cylinder engine, developed from the range of vertical-twin overhead-valve designs introduced in the mid-1930s. The 649cc engine was one of the most versatile of all British motorcycle engines being used in trials and (in modified form) breaking the world motorcycle speed record. Production machines were capable of around 100 miles per hour.

The Thunderbird was used by Victoria Police in solo and sidecar form during the 1950s for traffic duties but it is perhaps best remembered for being riden by Marlon Brando in the 1953 film 'The Wild One'. The original Thunderbird was produced until 1965 at the Meriden Works of the Triumph Engineering Company Ltd, Allesley, Coventry. The Thunderbird name was later reintroduced by the new Triumph firm in 1995 and continued in production until 2003, emulating its namesake by achieving sales success in the USA. This example was donated to the Museum in 1982.
Painted metallic blue with single black leather seat pad.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr Robert Ellis, 1982
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 1003 mm (Height), 690 mm (Width), 2009 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: motor cycles
Themes this item is part of: Engineering Collection, Transport Collection, Motor Cycle Collection, Triumph Thunderbird Motor Cycle
Primary Classification: ROAD TRANSPORT
Secondary Classification: Motor Cycles
Tertiary Classification: motor cycles
Inscriptions: Engine no. marked as '6T 773NA'. Two black rubber knee-pads on fuel tank sides with moulded lettering 'Triumph'.
Manufacturer: Triumph Engineering Co Ltd, Coventry, England, Great Britain, 1951
Past Owner: Mr Robert Ellis, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, pre 1982


Rob Blair Posted on 02 Dec 2009 9:17 AM
Hello, I have a friend with a 1956 Thunder bird pre unit and needs a magneto. Any directions to acquiring parts for such would be appreciated. I have previously owned a '59 T Bird extremely regretting not owning it now. Regards Rob Blair
Discovery Centre Posted on 28 Dec 2009 2:46 PM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi Rob. You might want to try the following website, which has heaps of links to motorcycle sites relating to classic and vintage models: http://www.dropbears.com/bikelinks/classic.htm
Michael Bolton Posted on 28 Dec 2009 2:46 PM
I own a 1951 Triumph Thunderbird which Iam restoring, where can I find the specifications of my bike eg original paint etc, I have the frame and engine numbers
Discovery Centre Posted on 29 Dec 2009 11:24 AM
Museum Victoria Comment
Hi Michael. As suggested above, the following website has heaps of links to motorcycle sites relating to classic and vintage models and should be able to point you in the right direction: http://www.dropbears.com/bikelinks/classic.htm Another option would be to try classic motorcycle clubs or to search the phone directory
chris Posted on 01 Jan 2010 11:02 PM
try the free ads in the Classic & Enthusiasts Motor Cycle Club web page or contact allan
Discovery Centre Posted on 06 Jan 2010 9:26 AM
Museum Victoria Comment
Thanks Chris, a helpful website!
John R Posted on 06 May 2010 1:52 AM
I would like to obtain an early 1950's Triumph Thunderbird for restoration. Can anyone give me an idea of the price range? This Museum Victoria example is presumably at the upper end. What would it be worth? At the other other end, a unit that is complete and running, but very sad condition. Anyone got suggestions? Thanks. John
Elizabeth........ Posted on 25 Jul 2013 12:21 AM
I believe it is 1953...or 1951

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