The story of a BSA Dandy of note - well, someone has to love them.
(Click the photo to see a larger picture in a slide show.)

At the age of thirteen I acquired an old Excelsior Autobyk, from where, I can't remember now. I fiddled with it for hours and never had a peep out of it, so it was eventually disposed of. Then a Triumph plunger Tiger Cub came my way from a good friend. I was fifteen at the time and too young to legally ride it on the road, plus my parents were dead set against motorcycles, so the bike was kept at my pals house and I was able to have a short ride, up and down his street, on Saturday afternoons. At the time I used to dribble over Triumph Tiger 110s, but an illegal cub was all I had.

On the 5th January 1959 I started work as a trainee accountant with Cardiff Corporation and travelled back and fore to work in the centre of Cardiff with my dad in his car. Out of my £4.0.10d a week wages, I paid my mother £3 towards my keep. After a few weeks my mother said that her and dad had agreed that I could have a motorcycle to get me back and fore to work. At last, I thought a T110, hooray. It seemed that my mum had saved the housekeeping money that I had been giving her and put a deposit on a new bike for me from Car Distributors. The owners of Car Distributors, known locally as BSA House were some distant relatives of ours and mum knew them well, so my new bike was on order - I did hope that BSA House could get hold of Triumphs, but their very name should have given me a clue.

The bike was to be delivered after the shift finished at midday on Saturday 7th February by one of the mechanics on his way home. Gosh, that was a long wait until that Saturday morning. Soon the mechanic appeared, but not on a T110 as I'd hoped, but a BSA Dandy - oh dear!! Never mind though, it was wheels, I was mobile, and legit.

The bike came, complete with a set of panniers and a windscreen, the size of which was near an 8 x 4 foot sheet of plywood - well, it seemed that way! Have a look at the photo and you'll see what I mean. The screen soon went, in the interests of making forward motion on a windy day, with the bike managing to just make 35mph without it. One day I tried to tune it and removed the legshields and a few other bits. Off I set for the top of Caerphilly mountain and with my chin on top of the headlamp I set off down the hill with the throttle right round to the stop. You've guessed it, flat out speed was still 35mph. The little bike served me well through 1959 but by November was beginning to give trouble, so I part ex'd it into Cyril Morgans in Caerphilly for a BSA 250cc C15. The BSA was £165 and I needed another £100 for a T110 but just couldn't stretch the finances that far. I did catch sight of the little Dandy the following year as it passed my house one day - never to be seen again.

The story moves on 49 years to 2008 and the funeral of Doug Bailey. After the funeral we all retired to the Nine Giants pub and I was sitting with Peter Benger, chewing over old times. Peter was the section secretary from 1972 to 1976 before he moved to Andover with his job and we'd luckily managed to keep in touch. Somehow, we got talking about Dandys and Peter said "I've got four of those in pieces". Out of pure nostalgia I said " Sell me one, you don't need that many". Well, the deal was done and a month or so later I set off for Andover to collect a Dandy. There was a choice of two and one was from 1959 - maroon and cream - just like my old bike, so I had to have that one.

There was some paperwork with the bike and I wondered, as I drove home from Andover with the Dandy remains in the boot, about the bikes history. It had a V5C for the number AKG568A and I knew that was a number from 1963 with the A suffix and that the KG series were issued by the Cardiff DVLA office. So, did the bike originate in Cardiff? Could it be my old Dandy RUH232? Highly unlikely, I thought, but worth investigating, especially as the A suffix number was totally out of keeping for the bike.

So where to start? First thing that I did was to establish that RUH232 was not on the DVLA computer in any shape or form. The next thing then was to use the freedom of information act and get a complete paper trail history of what the DVLA had. That proved quite interesting and from the DVLA file I found the following:

It’s a 1959 model, of course, and was acquired by my pal from a trader at the Netley Marsh autojumble. Prior to that it had passed through the hands of two people in Birmingham. Then comes the interesting part – the bike went to Birmingham from a motor dealer in Cardiff back around the mid 1990s – so the question still nagged in my mind, ‘Could it be RUH232’? I just had to find out. The Cardiff motor dealer had used the bike to obtain an age related number for his car – as the system for the recovery of old reg numbers was not in place back in the early 90’s and at that time age related numbers were transferrable. When my pal Peter had bought the bike, it sported the number VSU468 – but now had a V5C for AKG568A. Gets complicated, doesn’t it? However, the A suffix number was completely out of place for a 1959 machine and would need changing for a more appropriate age-related one at the very least.

One day I had the opportunity to research the original BSA despatch books at the VMCC Library and found that the Dandy now in my possession was despatched on the 8th January 1959 to Car Distributors (BSA house) Ltd in Cardiff – it was, the only Dandy sent to them that month. Their next Dandy delivery wasn’t until the 22nd February. Everything fitted, so far. Next stop was the Glamorgan archives and a check of the old Cardiff registration records confirmed that the Dandy in my garage was indeed RUH232. I’ve since managed to convince the nice people at the DVLA to let me have the number back. The engine is not the original one, which is a shame – but the rest is my old bike.

Well, it took a few months and two years of ‘planning’, you have to ‘plan’ these things, don’t you? Anyway, at last, sitting in my garage is a rather resplendent cream and maroon BSA Dandy, sporting it's original registration number.

Everyone visiting my garage during the last few months and seeing the creation, must wonder if I’ve lost my marbles, I know my wife thinks so, but hey, what price nostalgia!! Each time I look at the little bike I smile and wonder just where it’s been for the past 50 odd years.

All that's wrong, is the seat, as in 1959 mine had the new design rubber version. I have a frame but it seems the rubber  just rots away over time. So I am making do with one the earlier type of seats - however, if anyone knows for a proper serviceable grey rubber dandy seat - now that would really make my day.