The history behind the name Gold Star deserves sharing: Wal Handley came out of retirement to race BSA’s then-flagship, the Empire Star (a cool name in its own right) at the Brooklands circuit, where he attained an average speed of 107 mph – in 1937 – where he was awarded the Brooklands Gold Star, a highly coveted prize. So impressed were BSA with the accomplishment that its next flagship model bore the name.

With a history like that, Gold Stars had a lot to live up to. BSA didn’t disappoint, as the Gold Star is arguably regarded as the greatest British Single ever produced. What made it so great? The top-of-the-line, 499cc versions used all alloy cylinder barrels and heads, making them extremely light. According to Classic British Motorcycles, the hand-built engines were available with “different compression ratios, cams, carburetors & exhaust systems, and two different cylinder heads, one for the Trials version and the other for everything else.” In this case, “everything else” included touring, motocross, scrambles, and road racing. Improvements to the Gold Star kept coming through to the late 1950s, but by the 1960s the Single just wasn’t keeping up with the more advanced, and multi-cylindered, competition. Production of the Gold Star ceased in 1963.

  • Starmag

    It’s said that Soichiro Honda was quite the fan of NSU racers.

  • Old MOron

    I like thumpers.

  • DickRuble

    The Supermono ended up second at the Isle of of Man in 1994 with Robert Holden atop.

  • Mahatma

    I think the AJS wins the style competition here.

    • Ian Parkes

      I’d put it third behind the Manx Norton and, in top spot, the dustbin with the blue whale on the side.

  • craig collins

    Y’all forgot Isle of Man champion Bultaco Metralla. I had two of ’em.

    • MikeH

      I’ll put in a nod for the Bultaco Metralla as well. I had one and it was surprisingly good, especially handling. Very neutral and forgiving, you could really push them HARD.

      • craig collins

        True – performance was limited only by the tires of that era. I raced the kitted version ( oh, god – priceless today, ) at a couple of old converted airports in northern California. My everyday street / canyon ride was the victim of a nasty, dirt strewn, decreasing radius, left-hander in the hills above the eastbay. I bailed about two thirds of the way through – bike and rider straight off cliff into the poison oak. Fantastic times!

    • TroySiahaan

      That is, in fact, a very cool Single. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  • Ian Parkes

    Never heard it called a Norton Manx before. I’m pretty sure they were always Manx Nortons over the pond. Amazing too how the MV Augusta engine has such a strong family resemblance to its descendents. Powerful genes.

    • Kevin Duke

      Just sticking to conventional naming conventions. Same reason we don’t call it a Tuono Aprilia.

      • Ian Parkes

        Wow, it’s usually me that gets put in Pedants’ Corner. Your Tuono example is not be the same thing at all because but no-one (let alone everyone, as in the Norton’s case) says that. I’m just sticking up for the naming convention of using its actual name…

        • Jon Low

          It’s not “MV Augusta”. It’s “MV AGUSTA”.