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Triumph 6T Thunderbird salt racer

Triumph 6T Thunderbird
There’s something strangely compelling about motorcycles built solely to race down the Bonneville salt flats. Stripped of all fripperies, they’re designed to operate in a hostile environment that tests both man and machine.

This Triumph 6T was built by Dick Smith of The Baron’s Speed Shop in the UK, and it has that odd beauty in spades. Photographer Gary Magerum captured it at rest after it grabbed the record in the Pushrod/Fuel/Special construction class.

Triumph 6T Thunderbird
The bike is based around a duplex pre-unit frame from The Factory Metal Works in the States. Baron’s then slotted in a 1960 6T (Thunderbird) motor, heavily modified with a three-piece crank, a flywheel made from EN40B steel, and vintage Harman & Collins drag cams. Most moving components have been lightened, from the timing gears to the pushrods and rocker arms.

Triumph 6T Thunderbird
The pistons are 10:1 high compression items from MC Cycle, sucking gas from a pair of 1.5-inch Amal 3 GP carbs supplied by Burlen Fuel Systems. The gearbox is a 1957 pre-unit fitted with five-speed internals. As if that’s not enough, the bike is tuned to run on straight methanol, and lubed by Morris’ legendary R 30 castor oil.

Triumph 6T Thunderbird
The rims are 19” Akronts front and back, shod with Avon tyres, and the unashamedly prominent nose cone is a modified Hagon item.

The sound (and smell) of this Thunderbird must be amazing. Another good reason to add the BUB Speed Trials to the bucket list.

With thanks to photographer Gary Margerum. Head over to the Baron’s Speed Shop website for more classic British iron.

Triumph 6T Thunderbird