1964 Triumph T100 Bobber

“…it’s all work that takes longer than you think it should—making sure that the fit, the size, the style, and most importantly, the quality, are all right up there at the standard you want,” said Andy at Auto Transformers.

ANYBODY in South Australia who tells you they’ve never heard of Auto Transformers down near Parafield Airport either has zero interest in modified vehicles, is sadly unaware of what’s around him, or doesn’t just get out enough.

Since quietly opening for business In a crowded and competitive field 10 years ago, Andy and his crew have steadily built an envious reputation for good honest work with a flourish of style. Dented mudguard? Respray? Complete fabrication to show winning standard? Auto Transformers has joined the select group at the very top of the tree able to do everything from minor repairs right through to prize winning custom builds.

“We do crash repairs and Shannon’s work and we’re an Approved RAA Repairer,” said Andy. “The workshop can have 30-35 projects on the go at any one time, so we can be very, very busy. There’s a couple of Monaros in the shop; a ’65 Cadillac having a right-hand-conversion done; there’s a Dodge Phoenix; a convertible Mustang; an old Ford LTD; a couple of hot rods around; two FX Holdens; we’ve always got at least two Toranas in the shop, sometimes up to five; and we get a lot of cars for a custom build. We’ll pull the car completely apart, fit it all up with later model motors, better this and that, and build it right up to a custom finish.”

Most of Auto Transformers’ work has been on vehicles you sit inside rather than on, but this tough little Triumph Bobber shows they can turn their hands to motorcycles as effectively and as stylishly as they can cars.

“We’ve done a few Harleys over the years and I’ve done my own Triumph which was always to keep and ride. It was actually bought for my wife but she doesn’t get to ride it very often. The handling is a little different because you’re sitting lower and you have to adjust for the fat tyre at the front, but it goes well and it performs well.

“The idea was to keep an eye out for a good value Triumph we could build and customise. It was always going to be a bike that we would build up, showcase what we can do, and then sell. But as I got three quarters of the way through the build, I made the decision to keep it: partly because I really like it, and then secondly as it’s also going to give us an ability to show our building ability.”

This particular bike started life as a 1964 Triumph T100, with the stock 500 cc engine and four-speed gearbox. A decent enough bike, but not really something to get anyone’s pulse racing.

“We had a plan to make this one really quite nice, beginning by completely stripping the whole bike down. The motor itself ran fairly well to start with, in its standard form. I’ve ridden it around a bit and I thought, “Okay, we don’t really have to do anything to the motor,” so it mainly got cleaned and polished up.”

The Auto Transformers guys set about building the frame by stripping off all the unnecessary brackets and setting up the rigid rear with a two-and-a-half-inch drop and a longer then you first realise four-inch-extension bought from the States. Then they made a fresh set of brackets to mount the engine just that little bit neater than Triumph originally managed. The frame has a slight curve behind the front wheel, an elegant little touch that most people do notice, but some don’t.

The idea had always been to run fat front and rear tyres, and Andy wanted to go with Firestone to keep that sort of look, meaning he had to change the front forks. They weren’t wide enough in the standard T100 so the guys went to a later model Triumph with wider chrome forks to get the fatter front tyre in. Auto Transformers cut them down, effectively shortening them to give a lower, meaner rake to the bike.

The next step necessitated a bit of online work, hunting down a suitably stylish and bright headlight, the tail-light, and the oil tank, along with a variety of brass accessories, and the seat with springs at just the right angle. Like any specialised shopping, it’s all work that takes longer than you think it should—making sure that the fit, the size, the style, and most importantly, the quality, are all right up there at the standard you want to set and to be recognised for.

One of the features everybody notices and comments on is that fabulous bracket for the rear guard. It’s completely hand-made out of hard steel, with a warm, soft brass look applied over the top. Coming up from one side rather than the conventional two really makes it stand out, and to be honest, it looks so good you wonder why more people haven’t done it before. Maybe it’s the start of a trend?

After this, Shane hand-made both mudguards, and the bike was mocked up about 10 different times… together, apart, together, apart… Getting the whole look of the bike right meant it was crucial to mock it up and balance it so there weren’t big gaps in one spot while other components were jammed up too tightly together somewhere else.

The wiring is hidden through the frame and the coils and battery are hidden away from sight underneath the tank, again to keep a clean look. There’s a simple on/off switch for the headlight, a new electronic ignition.

The other visually striking idea is the inverted levers; another feature that stands out and shows the thought that’s gone into every aspect of this bike. Andy’s verdict on the levers probably sums up the whole bike pretty neatly: “They’re different to use but we’re trying to be that little bit different, and you do get used to using them.”

Triumph motorcycleAuto Transformers Triumph motorcycle

words & photos by Chris Randells

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