• Very rare survivor of a short-lived make
• Known ownership history from new
• Present family ownership since 1957
• Restored in 1962
'Look! Speedmen, Hard Riders, and all such Sportsmen. At last you have the Ideal of your dreams. The Croft Anzani Super Eight.' – Croft Cameron.
There is very little known about the short-lived Croft Cameron company, which was based in Coventry and existed for only a few years: 1923 to 1926. Pitching itself at the very top of the market, Croft Cameron effectively built only one model (with detail variations); this was the mighty 'Super Eight', a Vintage-era superbike powered by a 996cc overhead-valve v-twin made by British Anzani - 'The famous British Anzani, no further comment needed'.
The Croft Cameron Super Eight was available in eight-valve form at £140, or four-valve at £125; there was also the option of a slightly larger 'Plus Power' engine (£145 and £130 respectively). The standard gearbox was a three-speed Sturmey Archer unit with kick-starter, a Jardine four-speeder being optional. The silencer was placed behind and below the gearbox - a common practice today, adopted in the interests of 'mass centralisation' – which just goes to show that there really is nothing new under the sun when it comes to motorcycle engineering.
Its magnificent power unit aside, one of the Croft Cameron's most striking features was its advanced duplex loop frame that completely encircled the engine. Its manufacturer claimed that this frame was 'as rigid as a Pill Box', while Motor Cycling reckoned it made 'for great lateral rigidity and, consequently, for good steering'. The leaf-sprung front fork was by Montgomery, and contemporary photographs of the Croft Cameron show that it was built with various combinations of dummy belt rim and drum brakes, eventually ending up with the latter at both ends, as seen here. A (probably optimistic) weight of 300lbs was claimed.
With its bulbous, tapering saddle tank, Montgomery fork, and low swept-back handlebars, the Croft-Cameron Super Eight was undeniably handsome and a worthy rival for the Brough Superior, which it matched on price. The reasons why Croft Cameron failed while Brough prospered will, probably, never be known.
This rare survivor of a long-forgotten British make was purchased new from a Leicester showroom in 1924 by a Mr Bert Henson, a railway locomotive driver. Supplied in solo trim, the machine was attached to a sidecar in the 1930s. Mr Henson, who lived at 3 Sheffield Street, Leicester, moved to Feltwell in 1952 and shortly thereafter to Thetford. The Croft Cameron was a regular sight on Thetford's streets during the mid-1950s, still attached to the sidecar. By 1956, the Croft-Cameron had been taken off the road and stored in Burrell's old traction engine works in St Nicholas Street, Thetford. It was there that the machine was discovered and purchased in 1957 by the current vendor's father.
The machine was restored in 1962 (the modifications made to the lubrication system and exhaust were already present). Following its restoration, the Croft Cameron was a regular entrant in VMCC events such as the Banbury Run and Tour of Birmingham throughout the 1960s, and was displayed at the Motor Cycle Show in London. It also features in Damien Kimberley's book, 'Coventry's Motorcycle Heritage' (page 38). The machine was last run approximately five years ago and is described by the vendor as in generally good condition. Accompanying documentation consists of a number of old-style RF60 logbooks, including the original of 1924.