1947 Triumph Speed Twin Hillclimber

Star Car


Cars and motorcycles in cinematography have long inspired generations of dreamers and influenced manufactures to improve their wares. When exceptional actors and their vehicles-of-choice perform together, they often become one in the eyes of their fans.

In 1971, filmmaker Bruce Brown released On Any Sunday, a groundbreaking documentary that followed the gritty lives of motorcycle racers and racing enthusiasts. Some say it was a counterpart to Easy Rider, which had been released two years earlier. The motion picture included well-known motorcycle racers Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith, as well as Steve McQueen, who produced the film.

One nail-biting segment highlighted The Widowmaker, a hill climbing competition in Croydon, Utah. Riders who dare to ascend the steep 1,000-foot hill often flip over and tumble to the base in a mass of twisted metal and broken bones. However, one obscure racer who called himself Hawkeye Hillbilly stunned the grizzled group when he rocketed to the top on this 1947 Triumph Speed Twin. The ride earned Hawkeye Hillbilly second place and a legion of diehard, lifelong fans. The young man’s bold run was captured in On Any Sunday and helped the filmmakers earn a 1972 Academy Award nomination in the Documentary Feature category.

Hawkeye Hillbilly’s 500 cc Triumph with four-speed transmission was one of only 300 examples imported to the U.S. in 1947. It includes an experimental dual-carbureted aluminum cylinder head with splayed ports and oversized carbs. Its importers intended to compete in flat track racing but after the machine was modified to compete in hill climb competitions, it was a consistent winner. It won the Canadian National Championship in 1974.

This legendary 1947 Triumph remains in exceptional condition. The Des Moines Concours invites you to enjoy this icon of competition and artifact of American motion picture history.

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    1947 Triumph Speed Twin Hillclimber