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Velocette KTT

Velocette's enormously successful KTT servies had been developed for 14 years when the MkVIII appeared at the Earls Court Show in 1938. Priced at £120, the model was another 'race replica' in the great Velocette tradition and included a host of innovations seen on the works machines that had won that year's Junior TT.

With lightweight alloy parts, sophisticated oiling and a pioneering suspension design, it showed all the benefits of development by a consistent programme of racing. The most notable feature of the engine was its massive cylinder head casting, with its squared-off light alloy fins virtually filling the frame. Introduced on works racers in 1937 and sold to the public as a limited run of Mk VII KTT's early in 1938. Similar finning extended to the rocker box, which contained a labyrinth of oilways to lubricate the bevel gears and cams.

The Mk VII had a fairly modest state of tune (with an 8.75:1 compression ratio) and a rigid frame with few special fittings. The Mk VIII was altogether a different proposition. It featured swinging-arm rear suspension and Dowty oleo pneumatic rear shock absorbers, in which the springing was by air under pressure, with oil damping. It had lightweight magnesium alloy brake hubs and a telescopic housing for the front fork spring, while the engine had been beefed-up to an 11:1 copmpression ratio. The valves on the works bikes were filled with sodium for better cooling.

Ridden by Stanley Woods, the Mk VIII won the 1939 Junior TT for the second year running, just after the Velocette's great designer Harold Willis had died of meningitis. The model did well in private hands too, lapping the Brooklands circuit at 100mph.

War then brought a close to racing as to so many other things and Velocette built around 2200 versions of its pushrod models for military use. When production resumed after the war, the Mk VIII was good enough to take two 350cc world championships and win the Junior TT three years running. Production continued until 1950, by which time the double overhead-cam Manx Nortons were taking the honours in world class racing. But with a top speed of 105mph, the production career with enthusiastic amateurs, who celebrated the brilliance of a design that enjoyed almost a quarter of a century at the top.

Velocette KTT

  • Years in production - 1938-50
  • Engine - single cylinder overhead-cam four-stroke
  • Bore and Stroke - 74 x 81mm
  • Capacity - 348cc
  • Compression ratio - 10.9:1
  • Top speed - 110mph