The latest attraction confirmed for the exciting Footman James Classic Bike Live event at Peterborough Arena on October 28/29 is a special display celebrating Scottish racing legend Bob McIntyre and engineer Joe Potts, who developed a number of innovative engines for McIntyre and others.
Bikes on display will include the 1961, 500cc Potts Norton (JP7), which was Potts’ ultimate development of the Manx Norton engine and the last bike McIntyre ever rode. With its ported cylinder head, Potts crank, revised drive side main bearings and high lift cams, the bike made 53bhp and was reputedly one of the fastest Manx based engines of its day. There’ll also be JP5 – a special 250cc machine built using the 500cc engine from McIntyre’s 1958 Manx as a basis. Then there’s a 1958 Desmo Potts Norton and a brace of Charlie Bruce specials – a 1958 250cc Velocette with an engine given to Bruce by McIntyre and a frame built by Alec Crummie at Pott’s workshop and a 1951 150cc New Imperial special that Charlie Bruce’s brother John rode in Scottish 150cc class racing. And, if that’s not enough for McIntyre fans, a Kay Engineering replica of the Gilera Bob McIntyre rode to victory in the 1957 Senior TT will also be on display. The autojumble is filling up fast, club bookings are rolling in and the good news is that John McGuinness is still planning to attend despite his crash at the North West 200. There’s still plenty of time to enter your classic in the concours competition.
JP7 – 1962 500cc Potts Norton
JP7 was the final and ultimate development of a Manx Norton by Joe Potts of Bellshill.
The machine was built for and first raced by Bob McIntyre in 1961 and on it he achieved some important victories. The engine of this bike incorporated all Potts had learnt and developed over the years and at 53BHP was the most powerful Manx engine of the time. It used a specially ported cylinder-head, Potts machined high-lift camshafts, special crankshaft and drive-side main bearing. At the start of the 1962 season, Harry Louis of The Motor Cycle magazine described McIntyre’s JP7 engine as: “The Joe Potts 7 engine, of course is a much breathed-on unit, with special head, piston, con-rod and flywheel assembly and modified drive-side bearing. It is probably as potent a five-hundred single as can be found anywhere.” This machine was the last bike Bob ever rode.
JP5 – 1958 250cc Norton
JP5 was built by Archie Plenderleith in late 1958, using the engine and special ‘razorblade’ frame from Bob McIntyre’s lightweight 1958 500cc Potts Norton. At 274lbs total weight, this was the lightest Manx Norton of the period. Bob used this machine with some success for the early part of the 1958 season, but was disappointed with the handling. Joe Potts considered the 500cc engine too powerful for the ‘razorblade’ frame and suggested it be fitted with a 250cc engine for Archie’s brother George to race. George raced this machine at most of the Scottish circuits and in the 1962 Lightweight TT.
JP Desmo – 1958 500cc Potts Norton
In 1957 Joe Potts and Charlie Bruce embarked upon an ambitious project to build a desmodromic conversion for the Manx Norton. With Gilera quitting racing at the end of 1957, Bob McIntyre would be riding full time for Joe Potts once again and the Potts Desmo was the team’s hope of beating John Surtees and the works MV Agusta. The special cam-box was cast at Rolls Royce East Kilbride and was machined at Joe Potts workshop in Bellshill. It was a 3 spindle arrangement, with rockers to both open and close the valves, not unlike the current Ducati design. A ‘razorblade’ frame was specially constructed to accommodate the desmodromic engine, with a cranked top rail to clear the cam-box. Giuseppe Gilera had allowed Bob to take the double-sided, 4-leading-shoe brakes from his works racers at the end of the world championship season and being the best brake available, was fitted to this bike. A lightweight fibreglass Potts dustbin fairing was also produced at Bellshill and is fitted to the machine.
DOHC – 1958 250cc Bruce Velocette
In 1957 Bob McIntyre purchased a special 250cc DOHC Beasley engine from Reg Armstrong for the sum of £257. This he gave to Charlie Bruce in thanks for all the help he had given the Joe Potts team over the years. This engine and a special ‘razorblade’ frame made by Alec Crummie at Joe Potts of Bellshill, became the basis of Charlie’s 1958 and last Velocette racing bike. The engine was much modified over the years and Charlie went on to win two Scottish Championships in 1959 & 1960.
The bike was acknowledged as the fastest British 250cc at the time was often the first placed British machine home in many major road races in the UK.
1951 150cc Bruce Special
In 1951 Charlie Bruce built the Bruce Special for his brother John to ride in the Scottish 150 racing class. It is a ‘one off’ motorcycle based around a pre-war New Imperial unit engine which is housed in a frame made by Charlie. It is an unrestored example (last run in 1958) of a racing motorcycle that was built just after WW2. At that time there was very little money for racing, so people improvised with what was around at the time. It is one of the earliest machines to have rear suspension, which uses hydraulic units that were previously employed to open bomb doors on Lancaster planes! During WW2 Joe Potts Ltd. built bomb doors for both the ‘Grand Slam’ and ‘Tall Boy’ bombs, hence why he had some surplus hydraulic units at the end of hostilities.
Expect a large display of period photographs and memorabilia from the Potts family archive, all of which will form an excellent back-drop to the display stand.
Joe Potts Garage Collection