The BSA Spitfire was the fastest BSA motorcycle and was made from 1966 to 1968 with model designations MkII, MkIII and MkIV. Announced at the Brighton Motor Show in September 1965, the dynamic novice was based on the earlier BSA Lightning with a power upgrade achieved through the most classic tuning method through a higher compression ratio with 10,5: 1 pistons, hotter cams and two Amal 1-5 / 32 ”GP carburettors with open chalices. Also very modern: It was one of the first BSAs with 12 volt on-board voltage.
The fastest BSA ever
When introduced in 1966, it was the fastest standard BSA ever produced and the fastest standard motorcycle tested by Motor Cycle with a top speed of 123 mph and an average of 119,2 mph. A well-tuned Spitfire produced 54 hp. In addition, the correct adjustment of the ignition and the carburettors was of vital importance. Just for the record: 123 mph is 197.9493 km / h according to the conversion table. Just say: 200 km / h. And that was incredibly fast at the time. The Spitfire was the Bonneville Beater of choice. The acceleration of such a Spitfire was phenomenal.
They drove fast with such fast bikes. Spitfire pilots therefore had a limited chance of survival if the case remained intact. But more often, their lives were saved by the fact that their Spitfire's engine gave up the ghost.
Before that, a Spitfire was already a difficult starter when it was warm. And when it ran it vibrated tremendously at high revs. But the Spitfire was faster and better handling than a Bonneville. But certainly with the early Spitfires everything vibrated loose and / or broken.
The pain point was that they - also at BSA - assumed that their customers would remain brand loyalty forever. The idea that a motorcyclist would ever want to be seen on a Japanese motorcycle seemed unthinkable to BSA. At BSA they therefore continued to build on production lines that were still from before WWII. And that was clearly at the expense of the British technical superiority once built up.
Thus, faster than the competition wanting to be the death of the brand. Whatever was done by aftermarket suppliers. The twins soon got stronger crankshaft bearings, a larger oil pump and a modified clutch. That crankshaft bearing was quite a thing because there were quite a few Spitfires that were very dead at low mileage. But suppliers also found solutions for this. The starting problems were largely solved by the factory by mounting the new 32 mm Amals 932 Concentrics and real air filters. This reduced the power by just 1 hp, but made the engine much more user-friendly. The gas mileage was also much better.
They were toppers!
BSA Spitfires were the best. They were very fast and quite expensive motorcycles with limited survivability. So there are few left. This very real copy, sold new in the Netherlands, is a super authentic example of such a survivor. Even the tank transfers that traditionally dissolved due to spilled petrol are still nice. The machine comes from the collection of Anne de Leeuw from Oosterwijk, who collected his collection in an old village school. And to prevent gender shifts: Anne is of 'our - the usually standing urinating - kind.
And the BSA Spitfire?
A good Spitfire may now be allowed to trot once. But the survivors are treated with respect. And now they remain whole.