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BSA sold and may be revived

Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited BSA - cagiva revival

BSA could join the list of recently revived motorcycle brands including Bultaco, Brough, Hesketh, Matchless and Norton after Indian motor company Mahindra bought the British company for $A5.4m.

BSA is currently just a brand that churns out motorcycle t-shirts and merchandise.

But what will Mahindra do with the BSA brand? Will it be restored to its former glory? Or will it become another hipster retro brand?

Bultaco has returned with two electric bikes, while Ariel, Brough, Hesketh and Matchelss have returned with hideously expensive bespoke models that, except for the Brough, are nothing like their previous incarnations.

Norton is the only manufacturer to return to its roots with any sense of tradition and taste. They’re also not outrageously expensive, starting at under $30,000.

We don’t expect Mahindra will go for the expensive bespoke option.

In fact, the maker of trucks, buses and tractors is more likely to produce a sensibly priced motorcycle.

I remember talking to one of its engineers when they launched their pick-up in Australia and asking him about its load capacity specification figure.

He laughed and said it was technically way underrated. “We have to build them so an Indian family can put their entire family and an elephant in the back.”

Similarly, we can expect a Mahindra-built BSA will be fairly tough and basic, like the Indian-owned Royal Enfield range.

Mahindra bought BSA through their wholly owned subsidiary, Classic Legends Private Limited (CLPL), so it looks like they will go the traditional route.

A further hint to their future could be the fact that last year Mahindra also bought a 51% stake in Peugeot Motorcycles which, despite the name, mainly makes scooters.

Let’s hope they just use their R&D and not their styling department!

BSA history

BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited and it began in 1861 making guns.

It gradually moved into bicycles and motorcycles for which they are most famous, although they also made cars, buses, tools and other metal products over the years.

Its most famous motorcycles were the Gold Star 350cc and 500cc single-cylinder four-stroke bikes considered among the fastest of the 1950s.

The halcyon post-war days slipped away in the 1960s under competition from Japanese models.

They went bankrupt in the early 1970s, merged with the Norton Villiers Triumph Group and BSA-branded machines stopped in 1973.