XS650: Tracy Bodies   2 comments

Jay asked me some time ago if I knew anything about Tracy Bodies.  Ya’ein… Produced back in the 70’s. Monocoque. Sleek. Tank and seat. Fiberglass. But not much more. Had never seen one in the flesh … so, off I went. To see what I could find.

… … Jim Phillips sketch

 

I found myself quite an interesting story. Several really. Multilingual. Spanning the Atlantic. Success. Failure. Survival.

… 50 T’bird 650

 

… 60 T’bird

 

One thread starts with a Triumph Thunderbird. Don Browns’ first bike.

first triple … P1 triple prototype…63x80mm-3 times…The Rocket3/Trident, Triumph Motorcycles’ step away from the basic vertical twin. The plan was to give the US market 750 cc power  without vibration

 

Another with Doug Heele and Bert Hopwood. Early 60’s.  Triumph Triple Development Squad. From that to this…

68 ‘Ogle’ Rocket 3

 

Slippery Sam … BSA/Triumph. 68-75  Rocket 3 and Trident attempting to head off the rising sun.

BSA/Triumph. 68-75  Rocket 3 and Trident attempting to head off the rising sun.

About this time  Craig Vetter   graduated from University of Illinois Design School. Turned a passion into a life. A search for handling, comfort and fuel economy became industrial fairing production. By the late 60’s 5 moulds were producing for various models. Desiring for a ‘one fits all’ he ended up mating the generic upper section to a CB750 lower, including a headlight carrier. The ‘Windjammer’ was born 70/71 and he cashed in proper from the Goldwing crowd.

In 1968, three years out of design school, I was known for my fairing designs. But I wanted to do an entire motorcycle. At the same time Don Brown was pondering how to somehow “Americanize” the BSA Rocket 3, I was designing a special ‘zoomy’ seat – tank for my new Suzuki 500. It held 6 gallons of fuel and 1 gallon of two-stroke oil! I rode it everywhere and in the summer of 1969 regularly raced it at the Indianapolis 1/8 mile drag strip. It was there that I realized that the long, ‘zoomy’ shape, as beautiful as it was,- forced a viewer’s eye right off onto something else – anything else. My next motorcycle design, I decided, would somehow keep a viewer’s attention right there. .. n March of 1969 I brought my Suzuki to Daytona and pestered every motorcycle company executive I could locate. “Look at this,” I said, “You need me to design a bike for you. That’s when Harry Chaplin took my card. .. Don continues: The telephone number was in Rantoul Illinois. On April 21, 1969, I called Craig to discuss a project he might be interested in. That set the stage for lunch on June 3, 1969, which proved to be interesting indeed. Craig remembers: Don’s offer was to fly to Nutley and meet. If he liked me, he would give me the keys to a BSA Rocket 3 and I could drive it home to Illinois. I bought a one-way ticket…Craig Vetter

 

BSA Rocket 3 … Ogle designed Rocket 3/Trident…had the power but why give someone who knows nothing about motorcycles the job of designing one? … beats me

 

69 CB750K … the before and after benchmark

BSA/Triumph presented their ‘Ogle’ designed Rocket 3-Trident to their US Dealers and Distributers in 68. Disappointment. Boxy and Bone-Ugly. Kickstart. 4 speed. A Sales and Marketing non-event against the coming CB750/4.

speed and distance … no looks

 

Don Brown, BSA’s US VP and Director, funded the setting of various Speed and Distance records by Du Hamel, Mann and Hempstead  late 68, Daytona. The gods at Bonneville Flats smiled . Wasn’t Enough.

… Craig Vetter was approached. April 69.

Craig Vetter was approached. April 69.

  • ‘Redesign the Rocket 3’
  • ‘Don’t Tell a soul’
  • ’I’ll see you right-
  • – do a deal-from petty cash’
  • ‘Slim.’
  • ’Thunderbird sleek’
  • ‘1 to 1.5 person.’

Over a handshake the keys to a Rocket 3 slipped into his possession (E.N: KC-00197 A75R … reportedly one of the Daytona Rocket 3’s  speed and long-distance record setters).

summer of 69

 

His Summer of ’69.  The prototype was shipped to England Oct 69. Cycle World got to write about it in ’70.

Cycle World – Sept 70

 

In ‘71 it was displayed at Houston. Then BSA turned up its toes.

BSA

 

Vetter Rocket

 

Vetter’s final prototype Rocket 3 featured

  • an innovative monocoque seat and tank unit tarted up with gold Scotchlite reflective tape
  • a simple chrome headlight
  • Borrani aluminum rims
  • polished stainless steel fenders and
  • a 3-into-3 megaphone exhaust, supplied by Brown who also sent
  •  a set of extended Ceriani road racing forks
  • Vetters’ suggestion to extend the cylinder head fins so the engine appears more powerful, was  carried out on = production bikes

 

… Triumph X75 Hurricane

 

So Triumph rebranded her. As the X75 Hurricane. Allocated 1183 engines. Production ran ’72 through ’73  = 1172.

Hurricanes, 2005, Duxford

 

Classic. Iconic

Hurricane lines … sleek

 

Tracy Nelson. Board-Glasser, O’Neills. Late 60’s, moonlighting with his tanks.

The Fiberglas Works.

 

… 72 Superstars Catalogue … 2 piece

 

Fiberglas Works in Santa Cruz had spotted the action. By 74 their ‘Californian’ Café/Street Racer Bodies were fixed program. Having spent the last 7 years clawing their way to the top of the custom fiberglas world, they wanted some of this. How’s that?  US $169.95 with an extra $70 for custom paint.

… regular magazine ad … 74

 

… Fiberglas Works 72 Superstars Catalogue …from a fine blog… Damned to be Free

 

Damned to be Free … Flowing like Glass, Jim Phillips Poster

Tracy body … more hungry mantis than cuddly seal

 

… cool ebay find

 

Artwork from Jim Phillips featured in many of their catalogues and ads.

… Jim Phillips

 

Fiberglas Works and later Tracy’s Fiberglas Works or Tracy’s and Friends must have been a stammkunde from way back. Jim went on to make a name for himself in the Band Poster, Surf and Skateboard worlds.

… Jim Phillips artwork … catalogue

 

Psychodelic.

… Samoto 400F

 

… Samoto Honda

 

Also in the action were Samoto(Rome). Honda Dealer. Playing with the big 4’s. In 73 they produced 15 88bhp CB750/4’s and 2 CB1000/4’s.

… Samoto 1000

 

Quite a heritage. And we’re only scratching the surface.

… Fiberglas Works  card molded into gas tank

 

… Tracy and friends logo

 

… Tracy logo

 

… Tracy body … the more common variant – parallel seat, upper shock mount cutaway

 

… underside … 14lb … 2.75/3 gallons

 

… Tracy body … parallel seat, upper shock mount cutaway

 

… less commonly found … cobra tapered seat, flared upper shock bulge

 

… NOS

 

… cobra style

 

… custom

 

… Don Castros’ Triumph 750

 

Tracy hardly

 

… XS Tracy

 

… coming at ya

 

… ready to go

 

Steve from RedMaxSpeedShop bought Jays’ bike. With the Tracy body. Is thinking about doing a replica. If anyone is interested the link is above.

… redmax

 

These bodies are now up to 40 years old. There are reports of owners facing problems with cracking and leaking. Originals not likely to be ethanol compatible. Less likely to affect Triumph X75 Hurricane owners. These have metal canisters hidden inside the fiberglass molding.

74 Tracy catalogue pp 1-32

74 Tracy catalogue pp 33-65

… tracy body on SR400 … Kobe Bandits

 

 Kobe Bandits

Interesting thread over at Honda CB750s.

Note: Apparently the original finish is in the epoxy. The outermost layer tinted to replicate candy finishes. Any metal flake would be added before the next layer of epoxy and mat was applied. I always thought my H1 body’s original color was fire engine red but at Tracy’s prompting I stripped it back to the epoxy and found rainbow flake over black gelcoat. Talk about durability. Some people in prepping will mistake this base color for paint and actually sand the top layer of epoxy off. Makes them brittle. {[Geeto67 @ caferacer.net]}

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2 responses to “XS650: Tracy Bodies

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  1. I am making a tracybody SR400 dressed now. Your picture will be helpful. Thank you!

  2. I have a older Tracy fairing on a Harley V-Rod. I don’t know its name but its a handle bar mount model and is quite large. It has signals mounted in it and the windshield is curved to the point of having 3 sides, front and l and r. I redid the mounting by making it mount with the stock mirrors and a hose clamp to the lower triple clamp. The windshield has a crack in it and I’d like to replace it but I can’t find what model the fairing is. Here’s hoping you might be able to help. There was a fairing like mine on e-bay for around 35 dollars but shipping was 145 dollars and it was scratched up pretty bad. Any help would sure be nice. johnnyov65@comcast.net

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