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The Tale of Old Blu'

Old Blu' in 2010 (Guy Bolton/GKM)

When one of our Sideburn racing ambassadors, John Harrison mentioned Pete Stansfield in a recent blog post (The Stansfield Effect) , Pete got in touch. He is a bike breaker; former rally driver; proper job avoider; he ran the popular Eat The Rich blog for a few years and is a regular at Sideburn and Dirt Quake events on a variety of different bikes. One of Pete's bikes, in particular, has interesting tale that we wanted to share. So here is part one of the Old Blu' story...

The first incarnation of Old Blu' (Phil Mather)

My Triumph was originally built as a Chopper by Jack Nuttall from Manchester in 1967/8. He bought it for £25 and when finished called it Angel of Death. It had organ pipes, sky high sissy bar and all the 60s trimmings but a couple of years later became altogether more sensible and was re-named Old Blu’. The original sprung hub on the rear gave way to an Invader style by Notts Custom Cycles and he fitted Harley springers, dead easy in those days, cut the steering heads of both bikes then braze the Harley one on to the Triumph frame.

Over the next few years it achieved fame and many awards at custom shows around the North of England with best chrome, best engine and best bike at Belle Vue in ’73-'77. It wasn’t just a show pony, there are photos of it out on early Chopper Club runs and it was used two up for Continental holidays.

The third incarnation of the bike, as featured in BSH

In 1978 he sold it to fund a Harley project, a sad mistake some still make… It was lost without trace for ten years until it was found in a scruffy state, still in Manc’, by Alan Rushforth. He restored it and in 1991 it was featured in BSH, looking a little taller and a less blue.

Sometime in the early noughties I had a phone call in response to a Freeads wanted advert for a chopper (Freeads and The Yeller, the thieves' weeklies, remember them?), a chap in Bolton had the remains of a famous chopper called Old Blu’, he had bought it for the engine and gearbox and wanted to sell off the rest, he said it was in fair condition. I went for a look, it was buggered, the frame had big holes in the rear rails, all the chrome had fallen off and he seat had a wooden base that just fell to bits when i touched it. It wasn’t Arizona type sun scorched patina it was proper Northern rust. I don’t like going home with an empty van so a deal was struck, I took it home and laid it in a corner for a while selling the odd bit off it when to mood took me.

Occasionally I would mention Old Blu’ to old people, they would go misty-eyed and say what a wonderful bike it was, possibly the most famous [British] custom bike in the mid ‘70s. Or like me they would say they’d never heard of it. I began to piece together a bit of history and some magazine features kind folk sent and began to wish I hadn’t sold parts off it.

Pete's first build of Old Blu' (Laura Deighton)

Around 2006 I started gathering and making stuff to build it up again, not as a show bike but as a product of where my mind was at that time. I welded up the frame and made engine plates to fit an iron 650 Thunderbird motor that came in another project. I am not a fabricator but decided it should all be my own work and completed it the following year. The theme was pretty much rust, but solid rust! The whole thing stood me at around £500. It was scary fun to ride but it never went too far from home, everything was on a bit of a wing and a prayer. People liked it though. I had features in Dice, Greasy Kulture and a centre spread and cover in BSH. Then in 2010, because I always sell everything, I sold it...

Back Street Heroes cover shoot with model Seren Gibson. (Pete Stansfield)

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