up a level

Dunstall Motorcycles
The History of The Company


Chapter Two - The Age Of The Café Racer (1960's)

To allow a narrow fairing to be used on the Dominator, Paul had designed some swept-back exhaust pipes. He had a couple of spare sets made and hung them up in the back of the scooter shop. A few people who had seen Paul on his Dominator called by the shop, saw them and wanted to buy them. He ordered another half dozen exhausts, which were sold before they were even finished. So he ordered another 50 sets, sold those and it snowballed from there.

No one but Paul had successfully raced a Dominator and the parts he was making for racing could be sold to the general public. He had the market to himself. The swept back pipes caught on in 1960. Clip-on handlebars, Gold Star pattern silencers, headlamp brackets, rear-set footrests, glass-fibre and light alloy tanks all followed in rapid succession. He could scarcely believe there such a tremendous demand. His first catalogue was published in 1961 and from then the business mushroomed at an incredible rate.

In January 1962, when Norton sold out at Bracebridge Street, Birmingham, Paul bought most of the experimental Domiracer twin engines and development bits and pieces that had been developed for the factory race team. This included the actual machine raced by Australian Tom Phillips to a magnificent third place in the 1961 Senior TT. From then on he was in business with his Domiracer line of speed equipment for engines, in addition to the tanks, seats and fairings for face-lifting the motorcycle parts. Dunstall also raced the ex-works bike that had been ridden by Tom Phillips. In fact Tom Phillips himself rode the machine for the Dunstall team for six races during the 1963 season. He achieved two wins, three spills and one breakdown.

Tragedy struck the Dunstall-Neville partnership when Fred was fatally injured while leading the Senior Manx Grand prix in 1961. His successor to ride the new famous Dunstall Domiracer was Dave Downer. Paul signed up the promising Dave Downer at the end of 1962 to race for him during the 1963 season. In May 1963, Dave Downer was to meet his death at Brands Hatch whilst duelling for the lead in the main event of the day with the "King of Brands" Derek Minter. Following Downers death, Manxman Syd Mizen took over the riding duties while Paul developed the road going version of the Domiracer.

In 1964, the bottom fell out of the scooter and moped market almost overnight. To take up some of the 'slack' Paul took on the Norton agency. He also moved from the smaller shop to the slightly larger one in Well Hall Road, Eltham. After expanding the range of his own bits, it was a short step to build fully customised bikes to buyer's specification. Meantime, Paul continued to sponsor road racing with a string of riders who included over the years Dave Downer, Joe Dunphy, Syd Mizen, Rex Butcher, Chris Conn, Derek Minter, Peter Williams, Griff Jenkins, Ray Pickrell, Tom Phillips, Dave Degans and Ken Redfern.

For the 1964 race season, Syd Mizen rode the 500c Domiracer. Colin Seeley join the team when he fitted a 650 Domiracer engine in his sidecar outfit. Dave Degans joined the team half way through the season and continued into the 1965 season. Colin Seeley also continued to use 650 and 750cc Domiracer engines in his outfit.

Paul's racing experience with the Dominator had taught him a lot about the Norton engine and he was soon looking for ways to improve performance. Although he had no formal engineering qualifications, he felt that experience was his best teacher. He experimented with different cam profiles, strengthened main bearings and altered combustion chamber shapes. Each component or modification made was tested on the racers, and if successful, was immediately considered for inclusion in the specification of roadsters available to the public.

In 1966, Paul started building complete machines. They were based on stock machines, which were stripped and rebuilt using Dunstall parts, equipment, and know how. You cannot define a Dunstall machine just like that. Given a basic Dominator engine, you can add a wide range of finished products such as seats, tanks, and fairings. You can change the gearing, or replace heavy iron or steel parts with lightweight alloy versions. The descriptions of the Dunstall machines have been gathered from magazine reviews and catalogue descriptions. The 1966 catalogue listed machines based on the Norton 88 SS, 650 SS or 750 Atlas, the Triumph 500cc and 650cc machines and the B.S.A. 500cc and 650cc twins.

His 1967 catalogue listed the same three ranges of bikes. The basic Norton machines boasted new wheels, front brake, mudguards, tank, seat, handlebars, footrests, exhausts and silencers and many original parts chromed. This cost £45 above the list price. For an additional £30, you could add a tuned engine. This included the following modifications: paired large bore carburettors, enlarged and polished ports, finned alloy induction spacers, lightened and polished rockers, pressure rocker oil feed kit, lightened cam followers, special high compression pistons, bronze valve guides, double speed oil pump and larger engine sprocket. The Triumph and BSA models had external changes but no engine modifications. By 1967, Paul had produced some 300 fully customised machines.

At the same time that this was going on, Paul was at the centre of a controversy over the 'standard machine' definition for production racing. Dunstall Dominators were being raced in 'stock' events and Paul was obliquely accused of nudging the would-be amateur sport of production racing in the cut throat world of 'pure' racing competition. Paul's answer to these charges was that during 1966, the UK tax authorities classified Dunstall Motorcycles as a motorcycle manufacturer in its own right. They insisted that the Dunstall produced Dominators were more Dunstall than Norton. In addition the Auto-Cycle Union, governing body of the motor racing sport in Britain, had homologated the Dunstall Dominators as a marque for the production machine event at the 1967 Isle of Man TT.

Also during 1967 Paul decided to pit his 750 Dominator against the clock at Monza. With Rex Butcher as pilot, the Dunstall Dominator gained the 1-hour, 10-kilometre, 100-kilometre records at an average speed of 126.7 mph. The highest speeds on the straights were over 140 mph. Paul sponsored a racing team equipped with 500, 650 and 750cc Norton twins designed to test production and prototype Dunstall parts. Road going Dunstalls were also raced in production machine competitions. The claim that they shared the same specification was proved on the Isle of Man when speed trap recorded a Dunstall 'factory' Dominator at 132 mph while other riders with stock machines were nudging 130 mph.

The bulk of the trade with the US at this time was for engine tuning parts. This was contrast with the rapidly expanding Swedish market that was similar to the home market. Reg Curley was carrying out the glass-fibre work and most of the light alloy parts were being made in Italy. This was mainly due to the high cost of labour at that time in the UK.

By the 1968 catalogue, the B.S.A machine had been dropped and it listed just the 750 Atlas model and a choice of Triumph T100 or T120 machines. The Norton model was based on the Monza record-winning machine. The engine mods included a Dunstall designed camshaft, a pair of monobolc 1" carbs, enlarged, reshaped and polished ports, lightened and polished rockers and cam followers, bronze valve guides, high compression pistons, double speed oil pump, and pressure feed to rockers. For the first time, the machine featured bolt-on twin hydraulic discs. The cost was £558 15s 2d including purchase tax.

In June 1968, Paul introduced a machine aimed specifically at the American market. This was the Dunstall American. It was a Dunstall Norton 750 fitted with high rise handlebars, high level exhaust pipes and a twin leading shoe brake instead of the a twin disc unit to distinguish it from his UK models. A lower (4.53:1) overall gear ratio was fitted. The buyer could choose forward or rear mounted footrests and a 4.00-18 or 3.50-19 rear tire. The machine could not be bought in the US, instead it had to be shipped in from the UK meaning that the buyer also had to pay airfreight charges and import duty on top of the cost of the machine.

Ray Pickrell was the rider of the super fast 750 Dunstall Domiracer which took 17 1sts during 1968 including the Isle of Man production TT where he set a lap record of 99.39 mph and a new race record. The other wins during 1968 included the Hutchinson 100 Production Race, the Evening News International; the Master of Mallory where a new lap record was set, and the King of Brands. First places were also obtained at Oulton Park, Cadwell Park, Thruxton, Crystal Palace and Snetterton.

Despite the successes Ray Pickrell had during the 1968 session, he was fighting hard all the while to stave off the better handling 50 BHP singles. To combat this Paul developed a radically new frame. Eddie Robinson designed the frame which was designed to offer a lower frontal area to the wind as well containing distortion from the big engines (72 BHP) overwhelming torque in an area of the chassis that doesn't affect handling. This was accomplished by basing the frame on a 3-in, 16-gauge spine tube, which also served as the oil tank, plus 1-in, 17-gauge support tubes. The torque reaction was contained within the engine plate and swinging arm assembly. A five-point rear engine mounting instead of the normal three-point fixture was used to do this successfully. The swinging arm pivot was unusual in that it pivoted though the 3-in centre tube as well as the two outside pivots. The winging arm spindle was an important frame member. The concept of the spine frame resembled the design of some American built dragsters of the time.

The engine and gearbox were further forward and lower than would be possible with a conventional lowboy frame improving weight distribution and lowering the centre of gravity. Dry weight was down to 306 lbs. Due to the lowness of the engine and therefore carburettor float level; two side panel tanks could be used to carry fuel 7-in lower than normal. Total fuel capacity was 2.5 gallons giving a maximum range of 75 miles. The 1969 season started well with a win at Brands Hatch. Pickrell then tried the new frame at Mallory Park where he came in third, missing first place through a missed gear change. The new machine went on to gain firsts at Crystal Palace and Thruxton and a 3rd at Snetterton.

1968 also saw the inclusion of the first parts for Japanese machines in the Dunstall catalogue. These included a 3½-gallon glass-fibre tank for the Honda CB72, CB77 and CB450. There was also a racing seat. These did not sell well and were dropped from the 1969 catalogue.

In April 1969, Paul added to his range of Norton Machines with a 750cc conversion to the 650cc Triumph. It used the existing cylinder head but with a different gasket, rings, gudgeon pins, circlips, 10:1 Hepolite pistons and light alloy barrel with lip-flanged steel liners. The Bore/Stroke was 82 by 75.5 mm yielding 740cc. A 0.020-in overbore gave 750cc and a 0.040-in overbore opened it up to 760cc. The 1969 catalogue featured an expanded range. It still included the 750 Triumph and the Dunstall Norton Sprint (Atlas), but also included a Dunstall Norton Export 750 based on the Atlas but designed as a racer with a top speed of 130 mph, and for the first time, the Dunstall Norton Commando. This had similar engine modifications to the Atlas versions and was fitted with twin hydraulic disks, a balanced exhaust system with 'Decibel' silencers, rear-mounted footrests, a 4 gallon glass-fibre tank and a new dual seat which replaced the Norton version. The machine also boasted a glass-fibre GT fairing and front mudguard, alloy top yoke and wheel rims.

www.woodgate.org/dunstall/chap2.html / Webmaster / Revised 24th February 2000