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Discussion Starter #1
Here's the start of what I hope will be a lovely story..... you've gotta love the power of the InterWeb!

Just got back from 11 days house renovation trip in the wilds of France and found this in my email:

"Dear Sheriff - I saw this photo on the bike museum website also. Carlo Signorio is my grandfather and you stated there that this bike was originally owned by him. I would love to know more about it if you can. My email address is [email protected]"

I've sent the lady scans of the original log-book amongst other bits and pieces. I still have the original Turin plate which I think I might offer her.

The Flying Ant has come full circle.

Nice.
 

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Now that's cool!

Maybe there are still some photographs of him and your bike in the family's old photo albums.

I like stories like these.
 

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It's always good to know the history/origins of a classic bike but even better if you gat to meet a previous owner. Well done. Now all I need is for Nick Mason (from Pink Floyd) to give me a call.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Today's email reveals some more about The Flying Ant's pedigree and the strong possibility of some old photos. According to the Bonham's auction blurb, Eric Houseley acquired the TR sometime around 1990 and it was never used. Sometime in the late Seventies an enthusiast saw the machine in poor state at the family's hotel on the Isle of Man. He acquired it and brought it back to the hotel for showing the following year, as recounted below.....


"Dear Jon

Wow - thanks for this - I spoke to my Mum earlier this evening and I think I know a little more about the bikes history, although I really need to talk to my Dad to be definitive about it.

I think the bike was bought by my grandfather Carlo Signorio for my uncle Guiseppi. Zio Guiseppi was however too young in 1955 to own a bike so my Grandad bought it in his name.

I am puzzled by the address in Turin, as we have always lived in a small village near Montegrosso d'Asti, however my other uncle Agostino and my father both were in Turin at that time.

My Mum reckons that we brought the bike from Italy to the Isle of Man (where I still live) in the late 70's. the bike was a mess at that time, it was used to get from one side of the vine yards to the other quickly and was kept in the stable with the ox and goats.

We owned a hotel back then and one of our guests at the TT offered to buy the bike and took it home - he returned the following year and brought the bike with him and he had transformed it and restored it back to its original glory.

I know we have photos of the bike in Italy - I'm not so sure if we have photos of the bike with Carlo - I certianly can't recall any. But my Mum says we have before and after photos of when we sold the bike and when it returned the following year.

Anyway, this was a short message to say thanks for the email - and I will let you know when I know more for sure and if I can get my hands on some photos.

Francesca"
 

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One of the better Dear Jon letters that I have seen.:)
Congrats!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Today Francesca has some more details.... and a really cool photo!

"Hi Jon

I have now spoken to my Dad and know a little more.

The bike belonged to my Dad not my uncle. My Dad is Giovanni Signorio. In July 1955 my Dad would have been 18, so I'm unsure why my grandfather bought it instead of my Dad, unless it was an 18th present. My Dad lived in Turin at that time, hence the address in Turin.

My Dad left Italy in the late 50's and moved to London. He left the bike in Italy and it was used by my uncle and was stored in the stables.

In the 70's we moved to the Isle of Man and my Dad brought the bike from Italy to the island.

Around 1976 TT a gentleman from Derby way came to the island and saw the bike. He restored bikes and my Dad let him take the bike home. He returned the following year with the bike fully restored the cost of which was about £800 back then! He also gave my Dad a box of the parts which had been replaced including the original MV badge. My Dad reckons he still has this somewhere (although knowing him - I wouldn't bet on it). He also has lots of photos before and after restoration - but he reckons they are in Italy. My brother found the one attached which was taken about 1977 following restoration.

When my Dad moved to Kegworth Leics in the late 80's he took the bike with him. In 1991 (or there abouts) he sold the bike to a guy from Loughborough, he thinks he had a garage of sorts but isn't sure. He says it is a great bike, the only bike he ever owned, and he loved it and is glad that you enjoy it so much.

Anyway that's it for now. As for my Grandfather being born in Los Angeles, his family emigrated to California, taking the vines from Italy with them. For some reason, my grandfather came back when he was just a toddler. The family stayed though and most still live in California and some still farm the same land growing the same grapes that we grow in Italy.

Francesca"




So here's the full history afaik:

In July 1955 Carlo Signorio buys an MV Agusta Turismo Rapido from a Turin dealership for his 18 years old son, Giovanni, who was living in the city. As the family live some 50 km distant, perhaps it was to enable him to visit more easily.

In the late 50s Giovanni moves to London leaving the machine with his brother who uses it and stores it in the stables in the family vineyards.

In the early 70s Giovanni moves to the Isle of Man where he and his family operate a hotel. Giovanni has the bike sent over from Italy.

Sometime during the 1976 TT event an enthusiast from Derby saw the bike and offered to restore it. Giovanni lets him take the machine and he returns the following year having done £800 worth of repairs - a significant sum at the time! The anonymous enthusiast also returns a box of
parts and an original MV badge.

In the late 80s Giovanni moves to Kegworth in Leicestershire and takes along the TR.

Sometime around 1991 Giovanni sells the TR to Eric Houseley from Loughborough, a Junior TT winner himself, Houseley owns and operates a garage at Clay Cross and also collects classic machines.

Throughout all this time the TR is never registered in the UK and retains its original Turin plate TO 137138.

After the death of Mr. Houseley in 2004, his widow sells his collection at auction at Bonhams, Hampshire on 10th September 2005. The TR is lot 635 and has a list price of £1,000 - £1,400.

A Dealer in West Sussex, David Evans, buys the bike for £1,208 and the current owner, Jon Knowles, buys the bike from him for £1,500 in May 2007.
 

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Amazing :jsm: and Beautiful :)

Thank you so much for posting all that. This forum just gets better and better.:)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
:: Another photo...

Sent Francesca my potted history and she replied with another great photo:

"Hey Jon

that's pretty good - my Dad says they definitely bought the bike in Asti rather than Turin, other than that I reckon that is a pretty fair reflection of what we have pieced together so far. So you now have a history of the 56 years of the bike's history.

If my Dad finds the box of parts I will let you know. As for the number plate - I would love to have that, perhaps it is a good excuse to come to the Isle of Man later in the year if you needed one! TT is obviously good for enthusiasts, but there are more vintage bikes around for the Grand Prix in August.

Not sure if you have seen but there is another photo of my Dad with the bike on Facebook taken in 59, and Carlo is in the background."


 

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Now that's a REALLY great photo, Jon!

Every person involved is on it, even Carlo in the back, that's the cherry on the cake. The photo couldn't have been better than that.

Now you got the history of your bike from day 1. You lucky bastard!
I'm green with envy now... :)

If I owned that bike, I'd never sell it.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Not THAT lucky! Just took delivery yesterday after six months off road and I'm back waiting for the RAC again. The *****ng clutch has gone!
 

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You're having too many mechanical problems with it. It ain't normal.

You should take it to Dorian. I bet he can fix it properly.

PS regarding my own Centomila, the judge decided that an expert will determine how long an engine rebuild should normally take and if the work has been done well.
Small victory already for me, that asshole of a mechanic didn't want an independent expertise. We'll see what the guy will say. I haven't won the war yet.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sure ain't oughta be normal, but it's becoming my 'normal' experience. It's starting to get me down big style. Started fantasising about giving the old girl a viking send-off at the roadside I was that pissed off.

Spoke with Pietro this morning and he can't understand it. Suggests that maybe the clutch plates are sticking together and I can try to release them (or at least test the theory) by putting the bike on the stand, going down through the gears, revving and apply the rear brake to try to 'unstick' anything....

But jesus, if it wasn't for bad luck I wouldn't have no luck at all ..... I need to lift this gypsy curse and get my mojo back!

Nice news on your ongoing battle, that's one up for you and steady as she goes.....
 

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I don't spend nearly enough time on the Classic section of this forum (much to your relief I'm sure), but I really enjoyed this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
@Oepie

Sent the bike back to Pietro Yesterday and he's fixed it (again) already. This time he had a closer look at what the boys at Big Jim's had done.

Turns out the bronze clutch bush which they had to have engineered (it took forever) had not been put back in properly and was loose.

This may explain why they kept disassembling the thing and trying to get it all to fit, which they admitted they never satisfactorily managed to do.

So.... no damage according to Pietro and everything working reasonably well again - for now!

Gypsy curse may be lifted?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Less than 36 hours after riding back with the 'fixed' bike the clutch has gone yet again.

Exactly the same symptoms so it would appear that the clutch bush is floating around again. Suddenly developed an unpleasant screeching sound like a thousand screaming mice when clutch engaged; starts pulling forward scarily when at lights and junctions - even in neutral......

Now those ass-clowns at Big Jim's had to have a bush engineered, which took over two months to get done and then when they had it they told me it was too big and they had to have it trimmed. Even more delay.....

So I guess when Pietro looked at it the other day he saw that it had worked loose and reseated it. Problem solved or so he thinks.....

There's clearly a good chance that the bush is now too small or ill-fitting by design. Since the original bush was so badly worn I had to have a replacement 'engineered' based on the old one, or somebody simply f***ked up, whatever..... I don't know anymore and I'm really struggling to care.

I don't suppose anybody has any accurate measurements for this bush out there? I'm starting to suffer from a serious sense of humour failure over this.
 
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