A MOTORBIKE enthusiast who waited 35 years to restore his 1960s vintage bike has had his hopes dashed after a thief snatched it from a locked garage.
Keith Harding bought the 600cc Norton Dominator in 1976, but after running it for three years it had been stored in his mother’s garage in High Barnes. But Mr Harding, 59, had harboured hopes of resurrecting the bike, the same model used in the Isle of Man TT in the 1950s, and which fully restored could fetch in excess of £9,000.
Just over a week ago, while visiting his mother, the biologist, who now lives in Cupar Muir, near St Andrews, looked at the bike to gauge its condition.
“It had been in storage for 35 years,” he told the Echo. “Last time I looked, sadly when I was down for a funeral last week, I thought ‘I’d better do something with this’.
“It’s my 60th soon and I’m coming up for retirement. I made this investment back 35 years ago and it’s time now.”
But on Wednesday morning, Mr Harding’s mother discovered that her padlocked garage in Oldstead Gardens had been broken into, and the bike had gone.
“The police told me there is a gang operating in the area, repeatedly targeting garages,” Mr Harding said. “And, unfortunately for me, they hit lucky and took property that was well hidden, under all sorts of cloth and coverings. It was an opportunist theft.”
Officers have informed motorcycle dealers in the area of the theft, and Mr Harding, who was born in Hendon and is married to Erica, 57, believes it will be very difficult for the thieves to move it on.
“It’s a collectors’ item, akin to a rare oil painting within the motorcycle world,” he said. “To older bikers, it’s like saying I’ve got a Rolls Royce in that shed, it would have that type of impact.
“I bought it for £200 in 1976 and ran it for three years before I put it into storage. It’s difficult to put a value on it now. Fully restored items, which is what I intended to do, can fetch £9,000 plus. It would have a high value to a collector.”
“I was going to bring it out of retirement,” he added. “It makes me feel quite sad really because I was quite looking forward to doing something with it, to resurrect my motorcycling years and the fun times I had.”
Anyone with information about the bike or burglary, which happened at some time between May 1 and May 7, should ring Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191 quoting reference 267 of 070514 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.