12th Jul, 2023 13:00

National Motorcycle Museum | Solihull, West Midlands

Lot 208

c.1936/7 Excelsior Manxman 4-valve
Extremely rare

Sold for £39,100

(including buyers premium)

Lot details

Registration No: Unregistered
Frame No: Not visible
Engine No: Not visible
CC: 250
MOT: Exempt

  • One of just 3 known to exist
  • Running very well and recently used
  • Very iconic race machine from the 1930s
  • Very well looked after

Offered here is a very rare Excelsior Manxman 250cc OHC “Four Valve” machine as produced by Excelsior, initially to contest the 1936 Lightweight TT and Grand Prix races.

The four-valve cylinder head configuration is one of, it is believed, only three 250s originally manufactured in this form. It has been in single ownership since the completion to original specification in 1999. Displayed inside the house since then, it has been run occasionally, the last time whilst being demonstrated at the Bicester Heritage “Flywheel” event on Saturday, June 17th, 2023.

After the success of the pushrod-operated four-valve OHV “Mechanical Marvel” in the 1933 Lightweight TT, Excelsior designed and manufactured the OHC Manxman to replace it.

The initial 250cc long-stroke 63mm x 79mm design was not a racing success, so for the 1936 season, Alan Bruce designed the four-valve, short stroke 67mm x 70.65mm engine.

It was finished just in time for H.G. Tyrell Smith to complete only one practice lap for the 1936 TT before being flagged off in the final session. His opposition in the Lightweight TT included Stanley Woods and Arthur Geiss on blown DKWs, plus Bob Foster and Jack Williams on the factory New Imperials. Despite being an untried machine, Tyrell Smith came home second at 72.51 mph. A further, excellent placing followed in 1936 and 1937, plus wins for Tyrell Smith in the 1938 North West 200 and Charlie Manders in the Leinster.

Prior to the 1938 TT, all the factory racing bikes were dismantled, with the engine “bottom ends” being used for the 1938 short-stroke two-valve factory machines. The four-valve top ends were all discarded in boxes in a corner of the race shop, the rigid frames were of no further use, as the works bikes were going over to plunger suspension, and that was the situation until restorer Norman Webb bought the race shop contents sometime in the “sixties” and set about the task of reconstructing the four-valve racers.

You can refer to “The Classic Motorcycle” June 1983, where Norman Webb details his first 250cc restoration and lists the competition successes.

The machine here wears a cylinder head stamped number “5”, which is detailed in Excelsior works’ mechanic Tom Wildman’s notebook as being that fitted. Tyrell Smith’s machine which was lying second to Omobono Tenni’s Moto Guzzi in the 1937 Lightweight TT, when having consumed the contents of its gallon oil tank on lap 5 (6, according to the factory notes), it threw a rod, handing over second place to Ginger Wood on the remaining four valve Manxman at 74.5 mph.

For more information, please contact:
Mike Davis
07718 584217


Auction: National Motorcycle Museum | Solihull, West Midlands, 12th Jul, 2023

An auction of classic motorcycles & vintage scooters taking place at the National Motorcycle Museum, Solihull, West Midlands.



Bidding will take place live at the venue, online via our website, by telephone and commission. 

Parking and entry into the auction is free for auction attendees with a catalogue, available at the door.

To enquire about entering your motorcycle or vintage scooter into auction please call our sales office on 01925 210035, email sales@HandH.co.uk or click the Get A Valuation button. Valuations are complimentary and without obligation.

To take part in the bidding please click 'Register to Bid | Sign In' at the top of the page




Wednesday 12th July 2023, from 9am

View all lots in this sale

All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

You can collect your new pride and joy from our venue until 1pm the day following the sale or our partners are on hand to help arrange safe transportation:


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If so, contact one of our friendly specialists for your free valuation by completing the form below and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible.

If you prefer to speak to humans, don't hesitate to call our office on +44 (0)1925 210035

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