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Featured Bike: 1936 Red Panther Deluxe 350cc
On a fine day in September 1992 a neighbour and I were standing at the front of my property at Tolmie talking about a Plymouth car he would sell me for restoration. When I mentioned that I would like to restore an old English motorcycle, he replied “I may have something that will interest you”.
In an old shed in the middle of a paddock, buried under materials and rubbish collected from clearance sales over the years was a 1936 Red Panther 350cc with many parts missing and totally rusted. It had been sitting there since the late forties having been payment of an outstanding debt. The bike became a two-year project of pleasure and frustration.
What I had was a frame, front forks, wheel and guard, handlebars, motor, original Dunlop ‘Drilastic’ saddle seat and part rear guard, and a clutch and gearbox from a 500cc BSA. The rear wheel was later found on a makeshift wheelbarrow.
While doing the rounds at Swap Meets I was able to obtain some parts in Ballarat: fuel tank, various levers and three gearboxes from which to make up one good one. Parts I could not find I had to make: rear chain guard, toolbox, headlight brackets, hand gearchange and linkages, and girder fork pivots.
The fuel tank’s condition was good until I gave it to the wrong person for repairs, chroming and painting – hence the frustration part of the project. It took 11 months to get it back in such a rusted condition I did not recognise it.
After sandblasting, powder coating, polishing and chrome work, two-pack paintwork and fitting original Avon tyres the machine was ready for Club judging – the results was two Gold Awards in 1995. If you haven’t ridden a 350cc red Panther (with a hand gearchange) you don’t know what you are missing, or perhaps you do!
By Ray Harrison