After the article on the Sutton radial, I was contacted by Ian Drysdale. Ian has been a busy guy with a lot of amazing projects currently underway. Among the many things he mentioned, one really got my attention, the Drysdale 1000 V8 sportsbike that was stolen some years ago, was recovered and it’s back in Ian’s workshop, though, unfortunately, it’s had a rather rough life since it was last seen. On the bright side, Ian once again has it in hand.
I knew the backstory would be of interest to everyone here and I asked him if he would provide a few details, and he responded with this incredible tale. Here’s what Ian had to say.
1000-V8 Sports – the Kindness of Strangers
by Ian Drysdale
The last 1000-V8 I built was a “Sports” model – the customer requested “Ferrari Yellow” – but it turns out there are 2 Ferrari yellows, both with the same name ! They changed the spec in 1966 but kept the same name ! Anyway, it did look good in “post ’66” Ferrari yellow.
Fast forward to 2017 and it was stolen from the owners lock-up under his condo in a beach-side suburb of Melbourne. 3am one Tuesday morning, 3 masked guys in a van got thru a kick-arse security gate and loaded it up – all done in a couple of minutes. He had it chained to his Harley, which they left, so the 1000-V8 was definitely stolen to order.
Nothing was heard of it for several years, then the cops found it in a garage beside a house in the western suburbs of Melbourne when they were looking for some stolen dirt-bikes. It was in the process of being carefully stripped – the odd thing is, although the garage was clean and tidy – there were no signs of the many missing parts ( bodywork, rear sub-frame, fuel tank, airbox, front exhaust / muffler, number plate holder and various other bits ). Where the other parts got to is anyone’s guess – my best guess is that the bike was being shipped overseas, one part at a time so as not to raise suspicions.
The owner contacted the insurance company with a request to buy the wreck back but was told in no uncertain terms that “All stolen / recovered bikes go to auction.”
So it was a matter of twiddling our thumbs until it turned up at auction. I then started getting friends sending me photos of the 1000-V8 sitting out in the weather at the auction yard. So naturally I contacted the auction house and asked 1/- when was it scheduled for auction & 2/- could they please cover up the open engine. Whilst outwardly helpful, they said that they couldn’t find it in the yard until the insurance company sent them a “consignment number”. I contacted the insurance company, but I first contacted a friend of mine who knows everybody in the industry, to get a name at the insurance company that I could contact, someone who had some degree of common sense. I rang this guy and he promised to find out what was going on …….. a week later I rang him again and that’s the last time I heard from him, despite “gentle” reminders once / week. He couldn’t have cared less.
The 1000-V8 sat in the rain for 13 weeks with the engine open to the elements, with various friends calling me regularly asking WTF is going on ?? Then I was called by a woman I didn’t know from Eve – Carolynn from Tasmanian Motorcycle Transport – asking if she could buy the 1000-V8 ( she had seen it sitting there for 3 months ). I explained that the auctioneers were still waiting on a consignment number from the insurance company – her reply was unprintable ( lovely lady but no shrinking violet ) – she promised to get me the consignment number, which she did on the next day. So armed with this number, I rang the auctioneers and they told me the 1000-V8 was marked as “CASE CLOSED, VEHICLE COLLECTED”.
The insurance company had simply lost it in their system. Had I been less ethical, I could have bought some $100 wreck and when picking it up, literally wheeled the 1000-V8 into my van and driven out the gate – because it was already marked as collected.
So, now it was back “in the system”……….. we were back to twiddling our thumbs waiting for it to turn up in the regular Friday listing, when I got a call from a chap called Andrew, who I didn’t know from Adam. “Are you aware your 1000-V8 finishes in 4 hours?”. I reassured him that it wasn’t listed yet, to which he replied “Are you registered with the EPA ?” ( No I wasn’t, never heard of such a thing ) The insurance company, in it’s infinite wisdom, had listed it as an “End of Life” vehicle – usually reserved for pre-production vehicles brought into Australia for emissions certification and the like.
Mad panic ensued – I called the auctioneers – yes it finishes in 3 hours, yes you can register with the EPA, takes about 2 weeks. So I called my new friend Andrew back and he said “No worries, I’ll bid for you and just send you the invoice” – which he did and everything ended happily, if you count an engine with 3 cylinders full of water as “happy”.
The original owner wanted the 1000-V8 back but his wife said ( paraphrasing ) “What do you want with a 180 mph bike at your age………”. So the plan is to build a naked Cruiser spec bike with spoked wheels and 8 mufflers – the motor will be de-tuned and the pipes won’t be joined, so it should sound fantastic ! If the original owner can’t get the stamp of approval when it’s finished, it will be offered for sale on the open market – I may even be able to be talked into building replicas, we’ll see.
So I am very thankful for the kindness of ( 2 complete ) strangers.
What a great story! And so much dependent on good people just being good!
Yes, Ian, I have a hunch there may be more than one or two potential clients for replicas of what comes out of this. We’ll be eager to see it.