Blez Buys a Quasar
You know when you get a feeling about something, that maybe it's got your
name on it?
Well, I got that feeling about Mo Simpson's Quasar.
After all, I was probably the only person, apart from Mo, who had ridden it since he moved to the Isle of Man in 1985. I first rode Mo's Quasar in 1986,
when I did a lap of the TT course (there's a pic of me in it at the Highlander that appeared in my story in Motorcycle Sport, and I last rode it
in 1998, when I got to the outskirts of Ramsey two up, before it conked out with an electrical glitch). When I heard about this Quasar coming up for
auction at the Stafford Classic Bike show I did some homework. I spoke to Ben Walker of Bonham's, the auctioneers, I spoke to Mo himself and I spoke to
Mark Crowson, the man with more Quasars and more intimate knowledge of them, (probably) than anyone else alive. As the only person who has actually
sold a Quasar in recent years, Mark's information was a crucial factor in deciding how much I was prepared to bid. Whoever wrote the blurb for the auction
catalogue had also done their homework there was a good little summary of the marque's history, along with a guide price of £5-£6,000.
After Andy Strang expressed an interest in the machine on the Feet Forward list, I got his number off Mark and phoned him the day before the auction.
As the owner of an immaculate Quasar already, I suggested that perhaps he should let someone else buy this oneSAndy agreed, but revealed that he'd
already put in a remote bid of £5,177 (he couldnt get to Stafford on the day). I could have his bid, he said, but that put a minimum price on the deal.
I certainly hadnt expected to get it for less. I spent all of Saturday riding around London on a pre-production Malaguti Spidermax 500 taking
part in a Malaguti promotion and at the end of the day I persuaded the importers that it would be a perfect test for the machine if I were to ride it up
to Stafford the following dayS..It certainly got wellS..tested!
As lot 449, Ben Walker had told me that the Quasar was unlikely to come up for sale before 2pm. I was up at 7am and put on my old Offers do it laid
back-shirt for luck, complete with its drawing of the Quasar and Flying Banana on the chest. With 160 miles to ride to Stafford I had intended to
leave home in London by ten at the latest, but somehow, by the time I'd faffed around fitting my GPS unit to the Malaguti and one thing and another,
I didnt actually leave Ham until nearly middayS..I had arranged to meet David Scott at his place just off the M42 south of Birmingham on the way to
compare his boot-equipped Pacific Coast 800 with the boot-equipped Spidermax. I phoned him from High Wycombe to suggest that he go on ahead and
meet me at the auction. I reached the services at Hopwood Park on the M42 at 1.30pm, re-filled the Spider, grabbed a sausage roll and got back on the
motorway. I'd already discovered that the Spidermax hated white lines and bumps or braking, but it held a good line through the O50mph bend on the
M5 at 90. I knew that the show was signposted from Junction 14 of the M6, but I foolishly decided to follow an immaculate Laverda triple off the motorway
at Junction 13. I was correct in thinking that he too was heading for the show, but incorrect in assuming that he knew where he was goingS.I should have
stayed on the motorway until Junction 14 he told me at the traffic lights. Fortunately the show was signposted from the outskirts of Stafford anyway,
so I followed them as quickly as I could, leaving the gently bimbling Laverda far behind. I arrived at the main gate at quarter past two, and with the
agreement of Gary, the ad man from Twist & Go, who was manning the gate, parked it right there. As I took off my helmet, my phone rang.
It was David Scott. It's all right, youve got plenty of time, there are still 25 lots to go. But by the time I'd walked to the auction at the far end
of the main building, paid my £15 for the catalogue (no catalogue, no bidding) and registered with Bonham's, the auction was selling lot 441 just eight
lots before the Quasar. By the time I'd said hello to Mo and Linda Simpson, taken a couple of quick pix of me and them and the Quasar, it was time to
wheel the beast to the front of the auction room, although it was too long and unwieldy to put right by the stage. Just time to work my way towards the
front of the audience to a place where the auctioneer could clearly see me and my bidding number, and were off! I had never bid for anything at a live
auction in my life before, so I was jumping in at the deep endS..I cant even remember what price the bidding started at, but I think it was about £4,000.
There seemed to be at least four bidders apart from me, and with the price going up by steps of £200, we were up over £5,000 in a matter of seconds.
Fortunately most of the bidders stopped soon after and I found myself bidding against a chap on the other side of the room, to whom the auctioneer said,
Come on sir, I know youre interested, youve come all the way from Italy for this machine, havent you?. Crikey! When we got to £6,000 Luigi
(or whatever his name was) hesitated. I'll take £100 the auctioneer said to him, helpfully. So we continued. £6,100S..6,2 from me, 6,3 from him,
£6,400 from me. At that point, thank Christ, Luigi declined. Sold, to me, for £6,400. Phew! Except of course, it isnt only the hammer price that you pay.
Oh no. As well as taking 10% plus VAT off the vendor, Bonham's add 20% plus VAT to the winning bid to take off the buyer. So that £6,400 was actually
£7,528. A substantial chunk of my inheritance. Im sure my late parents would have understood after all, they didnt object when I sold an inherited piano
to finance my first motorcycle thirty years agoS..(But then we did still have three others left in the house!). It was still by far the most expensive
purchase I have ever made, apart from my house, and almost double what I have ever previously paid for a motor vehicle! Mo had very generously offered
to deliver the Quasar to my house, with the help of his friend John, so having brought it from the Isle of Man in John's Transit, we then had to load
it back in, complete with the substantial hoard of spares including the fantastic Owrap around panniers and a spare pair of wheels, plus all the
paperwork and a great archive of articles, including some of my own! Before we loaded up, however, I had a quick bimble around the grounds of the
Stafford showground in the long and low beast. Steering and balancing were no problem, but that gearchange! It took me ten attempts to get it into
second gear and I never did manage to find neutral! I'd forgotten how hard it is to pull the clutch in too a real Charles Atlas affair. I stumbled
across an immaculate black and gold Hesketh and backed up the black Quasar for a nostalgic photo of the last all-British motorcycles to be made in the UK
before the re-birth of Triumph. The following day Mo, Linda and John turned up at my place right on cue and John gave me another demonstration of his
superb metre-wide, fold-up alloy ramp which made loading and unloading the 300kg Quasar a piece of cake. I shall have to think seriously about getting
one of them, plus a van to bolt it onto of course! But first, I want to see if that bloody gearchange can be made a bit more user-friendly! Then I'll
get the Quasar on a dyno before starting a sensible but serious tuning campaign. And I'll keep you posted! PNB
Huge thanks to Mo & Linda Simpson, John the van, Mark Crowson, David Scott and Andy Strang for their help and support.