Triumph Production Testers' Tales
From the Meriden Factory
by Hughie Hancox
Publisher: Veloce Books
Publication Date: November 2012
160 Pages. 183 Color & B/W Photos. 21x25 cm
List Price: $39.95 USD; £19.99
webBikeWorld.com Book Review by "Burn"
Hughie Hancox was well-known in the vintage Triumph community as an expert restorer and successful author.
He started his career at the Triumph factory in Meriden way back in 1953, working as a fitter.
After a stint in the UK's National Service as a member of the famous Royal Corps of Signals Motorcycle Display Team (keeping the team's Triumphs in top form).
Then it was back to the Triumph factory, working his way up to become one of the Triumph Production Testers.
After it came off the assembly line, each Triumph motorcycle was taken for a shakedown road test in the surrounding countryside.
As you might imagine, there are plenty of tales to be told just about that particular aspect of life in Meriden, but Triumph Production Testers' Tales is much more than that.
Hughie Hancox worked at the Triumph Meriden factory until its closure in 1973 as a fitter and technical advisor and, as such, he probably knew as much about what are now vintage Triumphs as anyone.
In 1981, Hancox started a Triumph restoration business that became very successful. He was also the author of the popular book Tales of Triumph Motorcylces & the Meriden Factory, the predecessor to Triumph Production Testers' Tales.
Unfortunately, Hughie Hancox passed away just after the final edits to Triumph Production Testers' Tales were completed in August of 2011 and this book is his final legacy.
Many of these motorcycle historical diary-type "the way it was" books are much too dry for casual reading (e.g.: see the Triumph Twins and Triples book review). The problem is that the authors typically aren't writers and the stories aren't all that compelling.
Most of the time, the stories are a simple chronological list of facts and figures salted with whatever anecdotes the author can remember. A book of that type may serve a certain purpose as historical documentation, but only very hard-core devotees of the marque will glean any pleasure from reading it.
Triumph Production Testers' Tales is much different, however. It combines much of the forgotten history of the beloved Meriden Triumph factory with some very useful information about fixing and fettling those vintage Bonnevilles, Tigers, Daytonas and more.
And it's all done in a very readable style with the knack of Hughie Hancox' fun storytelling style. Nowhere else will you be able to get the "inside line" of what it was really like to work in what was the most hallowed motorcycle factory in the world, told in a way that makes you feel like you are there and it's only yesterday.
In fact, most young men at that time would have given the proverbial right arm to get a job in the Triumph factory, but the next best thing is reading Hughie Hancox' stories about it.
The stories of the test rides in the country surrounding the factory are funny and enlightening, but there's also a lot of useful information about vintage Triumphs with insider tips and tricks on keeping them running in top form.
Any Triumph or British bike fan worth his or her salt will want this book. So if you're at all interested in Triumph motorcycles -- vintage or modern -- I can highly recommend Triumph Production Testers' Tales as a jolly good read and an excellent choice to take along on your summer vacation!
Review Date: July 2013
wBW Book Review "Flaming Helmet" Rating: