1949 BSA Motorcycle – The Von Dutch Touch
They say the time to buy something unique is to buy it when you see it. Chances are you may never see another one again, and that’s exactly what Coby Gewertz did when he pulled the trigger on this rare English 1949 BSA Motorcycle. He wasn’t looking for a motorcycle, but apparently, a motorcycle was looking for him.
He heard about the bike after a couple of potential buyers decided the motorcycle wasn’t really what they were looking for. “They must not have recognized the significance of the subtle striping and the small Von Dutch signature on the tank,” recalled Gewertz.
Gewertz, creator of CHURCH Magazine is a graphic designer and photographer. He bought the 1949 BSA Motorcycle in 2003 for one reason, to preserve a piece of history. He knew that if he didn’t, the bike would most likely be sold and eventually repainted or restored and he just couldn’t let that happen.
It’s a piece of art, and to put it mildly, Gewertz likes art. He has been collecting pieces depicting the hot rod culture for nearly twenty years and has amassed original works by all of the greats: Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Robert Williams, Von Franco, Keith Weesner, Ed “Newt” Newton, Norm Grabowski, Tom Fritz, Kenny Youngblood, Steve Stanford, Dennis McPhail, Pete Millar, Dean Jeffries, Coop and of course Von Dutch. “I bought the bike so that no one ruined a chunk of history,” Gewertz said.
The 1949 BSA motorcycle has documentation showing that the bike first came to the United States in 1957. It’s powered by a 500 single cylinder that measures 496cc and is equipped with an AMAL carburetor that produces a whopping 13hp. With this engine combination, the BSA would top out around 65mph, but it hasn’t seen the street in well over a decade.
The bike has a four-speed transmission, a modified exhaust pipe and even has sidecar mounts. Can you imagine what Von Dutch could have painted on a sidecar?
“The pin striping is classic Von Dutch,” explains Gewertz. “It was a very Von Dutch-like touch to paint a line inside a line. ‘Dutch only striped the tank. He didn’t repaint the tank first, as you can see his minor touch-up on the black tank to hide the nicks.” Gewertz estimates it was probably striped in the mid-70s. The BSA has remained as-is since 1977 and Gewertz plans to keep it that way.