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Velocette MSS

Velocette MSS1965 Velocette MSS

The Velocette MSS first appeared in 1935 - a 500cc sports model designed to fit into the 'M' series comprising the 250 MOV and 350 MAC. As part of the series, it was an overhead-valve single with Velocette's own development of a high camshaft driven by intermediate gears and short pushrods. These were designed to give the low reciprocating masses of an overhead-cam model and similar reliability, and succeeded - giving the MSS a speed not too far short of the company's race-derived 'K' models.

Velocette MACs were among a number of machines produced for military use but only one MSS was tested by the army and production ended for the duration. The 'M' series reappeared soon after the war but as the factory were soon directing all their efforts into the revolutionary pressed steel LE, all but the MAC were discontinued.

The MAC underwent a programme of development throughout the early 1950s. There were many detail changes to the engine but the most important changes were to the chassis, with Velocette's own telescopic forks appearing in 1951 and a swinging-arm frame with Velocette's patented adjustable shock absorbers in 1953.

1954 saw the relaunch of a model called the MSS but in truth this was a very different proposition from the pre-war days. The enigne was of much shorter stroke, giving 'square' dimensions in its alloy barrel. The bottom end was similarly updated and although the engine was softly tuned it was a modern design with considerable in-built strength. Despite the soft tune, the MSS was no slouch, being good for 80mph or more, while the spring frame offered excellent handling.

It was no surprise therefore that it started to be tuned for higher performance. In 1955 a very rare scrambler version was offered, while 1956 launched the sports Venom model. This began a series in which higher and higher performance was achieved at the expsnse of the very flexibility and usability that had been the reason for introducing the pushrod models.

The underlying machine changed little, keeping outdated features such as the separate magneto long into the 1960s. It was such factors as the difficulty of obtaining supplies of components, coupled with the factory's increasing financial problems, that contributed to the end of ther model in 1968. But its appeal lives on with the wualities of the long-legged, economical single cylinder engine at the heart of the experience.