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Bike of the Month

February 2020

1961 Triumph T120C

Bonneville Scrambler

By Rick James

I bought this Triumph in 1970 for $450. It had been made into a bobber by the previous owner. I rebuilt the top end and painted it blue. Later, I sold the bike to a good friend who painted it red and bolted a hardtail on it. He owned that bike for nearly 23 years, and the last few it sat outside neglected and leaked all the fluids out. He called me one day and asked me if I wanted it, I said I'd take it for free. Several days later he delivered it to my house, in pieces so it would fit into his panel truck.


This started an 8 year restoration. The first thing I did was remove all the "chopper" parts and tossed them in the trash. What was left to start with was the engine, transmission, speedometer, and rear hub. I had to find and purchase everything else. Keep in mind this is pre-eBay. During this period I was attending nearly every swap meet I could. I met a guy named Greg Hult who sold me some parts and informed me that the engine number T120C designated this to be a rare factory Bonneville Scrambler, and he recommended that I restore it to original. I decided to take his advice. I'd never seen or heard of this bike and even photos or information were scarce. Years and months went by and dollars were spent getting it finished. I did all the mechanical work as well as the paint job, including the tank badges. Triumph sold this model in two forms - one was an east coast version with quick detachable lights, and a west coast version without lights. How this bike went from brand new in 1961 to the way I bought it just 9 years later will always be a mystery. I was extremely pleased with the way it turned out, but I will NEVER start another restoration with a chopper!


Just for grins I put an ad on eBay for what I considered an astronomical amount and it sold the next day to a collector in Colorado for $15,000.00. I've never seen another one and I thought the members would enjoy seeing it.

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