Monday, 4 April 2011

What happened to the Potts Desmo?

With development stopped on the Potts Desmo (as there was no frame to put it in – detailed in previous parts), what became of it. The Desmo cambox had been cast and part machined (bearings fitted) and three sets of rockers had been produced (for 250cc, 350cc and 500cc machines).
Joe was sentimental about the Desmo, as a huge amount of work had gone into it. He kept the cambox until the one day in the mid 1960’s when a pair of young lads from Lincolnshire called in at Bellshill to see “Mr Potts”.
The Joe Potts team after the 1955 TT. Left to Right, Dick Jones, Alc Crummie, Bob McIntyre, Charlie Bruce, Joe Woollams, Davie Cooper and Joe Potts
Colin East and David Law were on a trip in Scotland and had been seeing various motorbikes etc. They happened to be around the Glasgow area and knowing the reputation of the Potts setup, they thought they would try to call in. At this point it was a few years since Bob McIntyre had died, and the race team was no longer operational. David and Colin were very apprehensive about calling in on Joe, since they knew that the racing side of things was still tinged with much sadness for Potts. They also felt a bit embarrassed about how they would present themselves, as they had been sleeping in the back of their car for a few days!
At Bellshill Colin and David asked to see Mr Potts and were taken round the back of the premises to Joe’s office. Joe asked them why they had come all the way from Lincolnshire to see him – their response was “motorbikes”. Upon hearing this Joe picked up his smock from the back of his door and answered “you’re interested in motorbikes laddie, then come with me”.  Joe led Dave and Colin to the old race-shop, which was left in a condition as if a dust sheet had been thrown over everything immediately after Bob’s death. After talking for much time, showing the youngsters round the race-shop and giving them a few parts (cranks barrels, Porcupine cylinder heads and rods), Joe went back to his office to his display cabinet. He opened the door and removed the Desmo and a piston from McIntyre’s 3rd place finish at Spa in 1961 and gave them to the youngsters as souvenirs. In the display cabinet were the things that meant everything to Joe.
The Potts Desmo still in the protective coating as it came from Joe Potts


  1. And he lets drop, quietly, an AJS Porcupine cylinder head as a gift..."Oh, this old thing? Take it." Slap me!
    I have an ex-Joe Potts Sunbeam TT90 of 1928; he clearly had many motorcycles sitting out in the shed...

  2. Joe Potts got the 1954 Porc engine from AJS. He was not allowed to race it as a 500cc, mind you McIntyre wouldn't have wanted to anyway (he hated the Porc when he raced for the Works AJS team - he begged the team management to let him ride a production G45 instead of it, but they refused). So the Potts team worked on converting the Porc to a 350cc.