Two Legends In One Day: Guy Martin & John Britten
- 4 May 2017
The opening of Classic Motorcycle Mecca in Invercargill was a huge occasion for Transport World. A major highlight was the visit of Guy Martin. Guy’s appreciation for mechanics needs little explanation but he was particularly impressed with the John Britten bikes. It was a special moment for Classic Motorcycle Mecca too, we were absolutely stoked to be able to bring together two legends in one day, Guy Martin and John Britten.
Guy Martin with a Britten engine.
Who was John Britten?
John Britten was a New Zealand legend who turned the world of motorcycle design upside down with his home-made creations. He designed four different motorcycle models in his backyard in Christchurch during his short life. He tragically died in 1995 aged only 45. During his life he and his team tirelessly built motorbikes in their spare time, driven by John's energy. The result was four exceptional motorbikes that gained international attention. Guggenheim curator Ultan Guifoyle described Britten as ‘the New Zealander who stood the world of racing-motorcycle design on it’s head'.
John Britten with one of his bikes.
What John Britten motorbikes does Classic Motorcycle Mecca have?
Classic Motorcycle Mecca is privileged enough to have three out of four publicly displayed John Britten bikes (the largest display of John Britten motorbikes in the world). Our absolute pride and joy is the V1000 Cardinal Britten - the first of only ten ever to be made. We also have two of Britten’s earlier bikes, the Britten Aero-D-One and The Precursor. All of these bikes are kindly on loan from the Britten family themselves.
Britten exhibit at Classic Motorcycle Mecca.
The V1000 Cardinal Britten
The V1000 Cardinal Britten, the last model Britten designed before he died. This particular bike is very special as it is the first bike Britten made in this model. Everything about this bike worked and worked well. In 1994 alone it set four world speed records. It has a V-twin engine, weighs 145kgs (the limit for racing at the time) and has a top speed of over 310kph. Interestingly there is no chassis or frame on this bike, instead the engine is strong enough to act as the chassis.
1992 Britten V1000 Cardinal.
The Aero-D-One was the second model John Britten designed. It had a New Zealand-made V-twin 999cc engine from Denco Engineering. The bike had a few problems at the start but they were quickly sorted out and it went on to win two street races in Dunedin and the 1987 BEARS Speed Trial.
The Precursor was the model before the legendary V1000. It was the bike that catapulted John Britten and his team onto the world stage which resulted in major corporate interest. It also had a totally John Britten-designed 60-degree, liquid-cooled V-twin engine and GP-spec suspension and brakes.
Want to see behind the scenes footage and media from Guy Martin’s visit to Classic Motorcycle Mecca?
Check out the stories below.
- Guy Martin & Transport World's Official Opening of Classic Motorcycle Mecca
- Classic Motorcycle Mecca a feather in Invercargill's cap
- Motorbike Icon Gets a first glimpse of Invercargill's new Classic Motorcycle Mecca