The Quest for Speed: 1955 Triumph Salt Flat Racer

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer R Side

This very cool 1955 Triumph Salt Flats racer looks set to conquer the place that gave the later Bonneville its name. With its bare-metal, hot-rod style and immaculate preparation, it looks lean and stripped down to the bare essentials needed for speed on the flats.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Tank

Every year, speed junkies gather at the Bonneville Salt Flats, a 40 square mile expanse of flat ground in Utah. The site of a prehistoric lake, the water is long gone, dried up to leave nothing but a seemingly endless expanse of white salt where nothing can grow.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Rear

The endless plain has no trees, no plants, no animals: nothing to crash into as you head toward the “double-ton” and beyond. Aside from a notorious lack of traction, it’s the perfect place for folks trying to eke out just a last little bit of speed across the disorientingly featureless expanse of the Flats as salt strips paint from fairings and fenders.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Carbs Installed

There are many modern and vintage classes for bikes, cars, and trucks at The Flats, and you’ll see everything from stock vehicles with openings taped over for better aero all the way up to famous, purpose-built, cigar-shaped streamliners with multiple engines that look more like rocketships than they do motorcycles and cars.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer L Front

This example is far simpler, with a much more reasonable design brief: no front brake, bars down near the lower triple, a rigid rear, and just a thin sliver of padding for a seat, this purpose-built, unfaired machine is an elemental embodiment of the Quest for Speed.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer R Rear

From the original eBay listing: 1955 Triumph Pre-Unit Race Bike for Sale

Engine rebuild by Franz & Grubb in LA to be raced in Bonneville:
Robbins pistons, Amal GP carbs, Morris magneto, 750cc …
This engine kills and is ready to get you a record.
Frame: by FactoryMetal Works, stretched, lowered first-rate build, Ceriani front forks.
Custom gas tank, custom oil tank, custom seat, by Wrecked Metals
Tarozzi foot pegs and grips, high speed tire and rims, disk brakes, Excel rims, RoadRider front tire,
lots of details for engine available for serious buyer
This bike is one-of-a-kind custom Salt Flats racer ready for 2015.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Badge

There are 5 days left on the auction and the Reserve Not Met at about $4,200. It’s hard to price something like this, since it’s obviously not in any way original, and the bike is obviously good for only one thing: top-speed runs across wide-open spaces. Although maybe it could be converted for some type of vintage drag racing? It does look similar to bikes like the famous Yellow Peril that were designed for straight-line speed contests.

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Carbs

The craftsmanship looks top-notch, with prep so clean it looks like you could eat off the surfaces, and the photography highlights the bike’s sculptural quality and elegant design. I particularly love that shot looking into the carburetor bellmouths.

What’s this worth? No idea. Do I want it? I don’t know what I’d do with it. Park it up and just look at it? Start my own quest for speed at Bonneville? Maybe.

Do I like it? I sure do.

-tad

1955 Triumph Salt Flats Racer Transport

 

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. Jess says:

    Very interesting! Looks like a pre-unit engine. The carbs aren’t splayed but parallel, wonder what the head is? Possibly a heavily modified single carb head. Are those Amal GP carbs? The El Camino looks even sweeter, my favorite body style. This guy is a real craftsman with some style!

  2. Bob says:

    The bike is barely a mock-up!! Nice build quality and presentation, sure, but a loooong way from a running/riding machine. Looks like a project someone has given up on. No cables/wiring done, is the engine fully assembled, does the gas tank hold fuel? Looks like a bit of porting needs to be done on the intake and pics show loose bits on the engine.

  3. Dave says:

    It’s exquisite but in 1955 disc brakes were only to be found on aircraft and D-Type Jaguars….