This was clearly no regular bike: it was a BSA M20, also called the bike that won the war, and a record holder for the most-produced military motorcycle of WWII and one of the longest-serving military motorcycles in British history. The BSA M20, though slow and heavy and often criticized for both (and its poor ground clearance), was famed for its reliability and ease of maintenance, which account for its extended production.
“It’s been there an awful long time, maybe 70 years. I’d love to know how it got there,” Bannister tells the publication. He was surprised to find that the bike had been buried in an upright position, not on its side, and that the stand still worked after all these years – though not much else. Still, “it looked fairly well preserved,” Bannister adds.
The Sun notes that the bike will cross the auction block sometime next month (July 2022), but offers no other details either regarding the condition or the sale. An impeccable M20 can sell for as much as $25,000, but this one is neither impeccable nor running. It could still be worth a pretty penny, though, depending on the model year and whatever back history can be uncovered about it.
The M20 was produced by Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) between 1937 and 1955, but was introduced in 1936, as a military vehicle adapted from a civilian counterpart. Its first submission to the War Office that same year ended in failure, due to “unacceptable engine wear” after just 6,000 miles (9,656 km).
During the war, BSA produced a total of 126,000 units, improving the original K-M20 model with each new iteration. Many of them are still around today and are a hit with collectors who go to great lengths to restore them to the original condition. Power originally came from a 496 cc single-cylinder side-valve 4-stroke engine that delivered 13bhp @4,200 rpm. The British Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force used it as a general-purpose motorcycle for convoy escort and dispatch use.
The M20 saw action in every theater of war, but the story of this one is yet to be told.