That's no old plug

  A fellow I know in Cuba told me he owned a 1950s BSA. "It's a chopper," he said.
  I pictured some stripped-down veteran British machine, like the Matchless that Marlon Brando posed on during filming of The Wild One (in the movie, he rides a stock-looking Triumph 6T Thunderbird 650).
  Before I went down this year, I looked for a pair of spark plugs to bring him. I couldn't find the Champions originally specified for his iron-head BSA, so I picked up the equivalent NGKs.
  In Cuba, my friend showed me his bike. It turned out to be an extremely tidy custom with raked frame, stepped seat, the works. The "pre-unit" engine and transmission were original, but everything else looked to be hand-fabricated, adapted from donors bikes (there's a lot of Honda in it) or bought on the aftermarket.
  Hardly the old rattler I had imagined.
  He still seemed quite pleased with the spark plugs.

Brando on the Matchless: 1953.


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