Thursday, August 28, 2008

James Dean First and Last Bike

At the age of 15 James Dean was given a 1947 CZ 125cc motorcycle by his uncle and guardian, Marcus Wislow. He would race that bike on an improvised track behind Marvin Carter's motorcycle shop. James' uncle bought the CZ from Marvin. Dean later on traded in his CZ for a Royal Enfield 500cc vertical twin that he ended up burning a valve on the way to back to New York. While that bike was being worked on he ended up trading it in and paying a extra $400 for a maroon and gold striped 1952 Indian Warrior TT. He would store that bike in New York at the Greenwich Village garage where Steve McQueen worked as a part-time motorcycle mechanic. The two would bond over their love for motorcycles.

James Dean would use part of his advance from the movie "East of Eden" to buy a used red MG TD and a shell blue 1955 Triumph T110. He ended up trading his T110 for a 1955 Triumph TR5 Trophy, VIN TR559196. This was also shell blue and Dean went on to make a few modifications to it. He installed upright handlebars by Flanders, removed the muffler and installed a older, 6T-style rider seat. He flipped the passenger seat backwards just like Marlon Brando did on his 1950 Triumph 6T in "The Wild One."

During the late 1980's, Marcus Winslow Jr, went on a quest to locate Dean's last bike, his 1955 Triumph T5 Trophy. He found the bike in Minnesota and bought it back. The bike was restored back to how James had it. The 1947 CZ is in an unrestored state and at the Fairmount Historical Museum.

James Dean on his 1947 CZ
James Dean's Triumph in front of the house he grew up in.

From the book "Legendary Motorcycles"

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