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Lot 492: Fruin Dartela Six-Speed Racing Motorcycle

Grand Palais Sale, Bonhams (7 February 2013)

This 50cc racing motorcycle is the work of independent engineer H L 'Bert' Fruin of Hillingdon, Middlesex, who constructed a series of technically interesting 'specials' in the 1950s and 1960s, including a DOHC 125cc twin-cylinder racer and a modular V4/V8 engine. Proprietor of H L Fruin Motorcycles in Hillingdon, Bert began competing on his Italian Demm Demon-based 50cc two-stroke Dartela racers in the late 1950s and rode them at the Isle of Man TT in 1962 and 1963, retiring on both occasions. (He also built a 200cc Four using Demm top-ends and later NSU Quickly components, which was sold in kit form as a crankcase and set of crankshaft blueprints). Further tuned by Bert, the 50cc Demon engine went into a frame of his own design. Although it fared reasonably well against the ubiquitous Itoms, the Dartela was handicapped by its three-speed gearbox (the Itoms had four speeds) so for the inaugural 50cc Isle of Man TT in 1962, Bert produced a longer frame to accommodate an additional Albion two-speed 'overdrive' gearbox (actually a horticultural cultivator 'box, suitably modified) giving six speeds in total. The integral gearbox was operated by a twist-grip on the left handlebar, the overdrive by a foot change on the right. Ridden by Bill Fruin himself, the solitary six-speed Dartela retired with engine trouble on the first lap of the 50cc TT, a race won by Suzuki-mounted Ernst Degner. Bert recorded another 'DNF' at the 1963 TT but it is not known whether he rode the six-speed Dartela on that occasion. Kept on museum display for the last 15 years, this unique machine is in running condition but will nevertheless require re-commissioning before returning to the racetrack. Offered with sundry press cuttings.

Lot Details
Auction Grand Palais Sale
Bonhams, Paris, France
Lot Number492
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price€3000
Hammer Price (inc premium)€3450
Condition rating
Registration number
Chassis number
Engine number31663
Engine capacity (cc)50
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors