Overwhelming, but in a really good way. That’s the best way to describe the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Officially categorized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest motorcycle museum, the collection at Barber contains over 1,400 motorcycles with over 650 on display at any one time.
Over 20 manufacturers are represented, and the collections spans over 100 years of motorcycling’s history. This is truly a destination that no motorcycle enthusiast should miss.
Founded by George Barber in 1995, the museum started in downtown Birmingham, Alabama before moving to its current location in the Birmingham suburb of Leeds in 2003.
The 144,000 square foot museum comfortably rests on the grounds of the Barber Motorsports Park, with the entire back half of the building overlooking the popular 2.38 mile track.
George Barber started as a car racer, racing Porsches and racking up 63 victories. From that background, he began collecting cars, but quickly realized there were numerous world-class car collections that already existed.
On the other hand, there really wasn’t a world class motorcycle museum that truly captured the history of the sport. Barber saw an opportunity, began collecting motorcycles, and the rest is history.
This past weekend, the largest gathering of Britten Motorcycles occurred at the Barber Vintage Festival at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. As many of you know, John Britten was a brilliant motorcycle designer from New Zealand who built a total of ten Britten V1000 racing motorcycles before his untimely death from cancer in 1995, at the age of 45. These bikes were definitely ahead of their time and Britten’s engineering genius has been admired, even well after his passing. Nine of the ten Brittens ever produced were at the event; the most ever gathered in one place, at one time. The only Britten not present was number three, which is owned by the people of New Zealand and is proudly displayed at the Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand.
A special event took place earlier this year at the Ruapuna Raceway in Christchurch, New Zealand. Paying tribute to John Britten, not one, not two, but seven Britten V1000 motorcycles were on-hand to celebrate the 20th B.E.A.R.S. Sound of Thunder gathering.
Attending the occasion were Britten racers Andrew Stroud, Shaun Harris, and Loren Poole, as well as new owner of the CR&S V1000 “Black Beauty” race bike, Bob Robbins. Fans were given the special treat of two of the Britten V1000s superbikes lapping around the race track.
Undoubtedly, the day was surely a special event for those in attendance. Thankfully, Britten Motion Pictures commemorated the day with a short video, for those of us too far away to experience these special machines. Enjoy it, after the jump.
Guy Martin has had some amazing rides in his life, but we imagine this one will stick out for quite a while.
Testing the Britten V1000, ahead of the John Britten Memorial Tribute in Christchurch, Martin’s name gets added to the very small list of priviledged individuals who have ridden John Britten’s masterpiece.
The road racer has some high-praise for the now nearly quarter-century-0ld design, and makes note of how the Britten V1000 is both similar and different than superbikes of the 1990’s and superbikes of today.
Your moto-jealously starts right after the jump.
Arguably one of the most impressive motorcycles ever created, the Britten V1000 has also one of the most interesting stories. Designed and built by John Britten, an engineer from New Zealand, the V1000 had elements and ideas way ahead of its time in 1996 — such as carbon fiber wheels, frameless chassis, and Hossack front suspension. The results were promising. Unfortunately in 1995, John Britten passed away, and his loss was felt by a country and an industry. With only a handful of V1000s made, most motorcycle enthusiasts have had to glimpse these pieces of two-wheeled history standing still on a museum showroom. Not this year though.
Hopefully you have done the laundry since our absolutely raunchy post that showed the 2012 Ducati 1199 Panigale without its clothes on, because we have got some more hardcore and explicit photos for you on this Friday afternoon. A reminder that everything new and exciting has probably been done before by someone else, we can see that Ducati could easily have had some inspiration with the Panigale’s design if they looked at the MotoCzysz C1 990, circa 2006 (and the Britten V1000, circa 1991, etc.). After all, it’s said that imitation is the highest form of flattery.
Housing a VR4 motor instead of the 1199’s Superquadro v-twin, Czysz & Co. employed a similar design that incorporates the frame, airbox, and headstock into a single component. While the MotoCzysz C1 uses a carbon fiber monocoque chassis design (as does the company’s electric superbike: the MotoCzysz E1pc), Ducati has of course made a more practical choice with its use of an aluminum frame (how long will it take for an aftermarket carbon fiber solution to hit the streets?).