1932 James Model D2
Year of manufacture1932
1932 James 499cc Model D2
Registration no. YVL 971
Frame no. P3388
Engine no. D2/428
* Rare v-twin model
* One of the last James four-strokes
* Fully restored
Like so many famous and not so famous motorcycle firms, that founded by Harry James in 1880 started out as a bicycle manufacturer. Based initially at Sparkbrook and then Greet in Birmingham, the James Cycle Company built its first motorcycle in 1902. From the mid-1930s onwards James began concentrating on the lightweight two-stroke models for which it is best remembered, but before then the top-of-the-range 499cc v-twin was being built in sidevalve and overhead-valve forms, and there was even a speedway version of the latter. For 1931 these were typed C1 (OHV) and C2 (sidevalve) with the names 'Flying Ace' and 'Grey Ghost' respectively. They were re-designated D1 and D2 the following year. Renamed 'Flying Ghost', the sidevalve v-twin was the last to go, disappearing from the range at the end of 1935.
This Model D2 was purchased by the immediately preceeding owner's late father some 38 years ago. It would appear that the machine had remained as it was found in the late 1970s and no attempt was made to restore it. The James was offered as an incomplete restoration project at Bonhams' Beaulieu sale in September 2012 (Lot 514) where it was purchased by the current vendor.
Its is offered fresh from restoration, works carried out having included all the usual stripping, repainting and replacement of bearing, chains, brake linings, fastenings, battery, etc. The girder forks were stripped, cleaned and repaired where necessary, then reassembled with new adjustment nuts and grease nipples, etc, while the wheels were rebuilt with stainless steel rims and spokes. The fuel tank was rust-proofed and sealed with ethanol-resistant sealer, then re-sprayed and lacquered. 'YVL 971' also features new Feked silencers and custom-made stainless steel exhaust pipes.
Both cylinders were re-bored and fitted with new pistons and rings, while the obsolete valves with ¼" diameter stems were replaced with Triumph valves with larger-diameter stems and collets. The valve seats were re-cut and the oil pump refurbished by Pete Rosenthal. A reconditioned dynamo and new electronic charging regulator were fitted and the ignition system upgraded to electronic. This new system comprises two pick-ups in the magneto housing (retaining the manual advance/retard mechanism); two trigger units mounted under the fuel tank; two coils under the seat; and an on/off switch on the battery box.
The machine is offered with all receipts; dating certificate; starting instructions; V5C registration document; copies of contemporary road tests, reports and catalogues; and the supplying dealer's brass plate, which was discovered beneath layers of paint on the rear mudguard.