KIWI RIDER 11 2018 VOL.2 - Page 66

CLASSICS WORDS AND PHOTOS: Rhys Jones P&M PANTHER f the name Cleckheaton is mentioned there is a fair chance that someone will say that’s to do with quality woollens made in New Zealand. That may well be true, but the Yorkshire town of Cleckheaton, which has also been known for wool production, dates back to the Norman invasion of England. Why the history lesson? For a good reason. Two engineering missionaries, Jonah Phelon and Richard Moore, who probably had little or nothing to do with wool, used their initials to name a company called P&M, based in Cleckheaton in 1903, to manufacture motorcycles. P&M’s first motorcycles were distinguished by a forward inclined engine and two-speed gears. During World War One P&M bikes were used by military despatch riders. After the war, in 1923, a 555cc model was introduced retaining the forward inclined engine, but with four speeds. A feature of the design, which remained for many years, was that the engine also acted as the front down-tube connecting the steering head and bottom bracket. In sports trim the model was called a Panther, the name the company would eventually adopt. In 1924 P&M’s first overhead-valve engine was listed as a 499cc motor. The Olympia show of 1926 was captivated by the new 242cc transverse V-twin Panthette. The design was of unit construction with the engine and gearbox housed in a horizontally split casting. In 1933 the company released a cut-price Red Panther, which was very popular, selling for less than thirty British pounds. The model served its many owners until the Second World War, and after. It was robust, reliable by standards of the day, and considered a very good basic machine. The Panther that wins the longevity stakes, however, seems to be the Model 100. The London motorcycle show report of 1960 said of the 100, “The range of four-strokes includes the 598cc Model 100, beyond any shadow of a doubt the machine with the longest production history in the motorcycle industry. Largest of all is the 645cc Model 120 of 1959 which is basically the same as the Model 100 de Luxe.” The Model 100 was first released in 1928, although its origins may go back even further. P&M machines and riders ready for competition in 1913