Britain’s favorite motorcycle brand has been brought back from the dead
Mahindra revived BSA with a star-studded reception at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham where, flanked by BSAs dating back to the 1900s, a live audience was treated to video links to Mahindra’s top brass and the unveiling of a new version of the emblem of the company. Gold star motorcycle. Even Peaky Blinders writer Steve Wright, a Brummy at heart, made an appearance.
But this is great news. Mahindra doesn’t just dress an Indian-made motorcycle with a badge: its BSA machines must be designed, manufactured and distributed from the West Midlands. After all, BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms (as featured in Peaky Blinders) – its spiritual home is Birmingham. Admirably, Mahindra wants to stay true to that.
Thareja said: “It’s not normal. We are not normal… It is a crazy idea to start a motorcycling business in today’s world with many great [motorcycle] companies that do exactly what they do. If I try to do what they do, they will beat me with size, experience, time and money.
“It would have been easier, cheaper and risk-free to buy a whole new badging exercise with an existing product made somewhere in the Far East. And just to sell it. But that’s not what we do. We inherited this brand. We understand the emotion that is called ‘BSA’. We do not consider ourselves as owners of BSAs but as custodians.
BSA is part of the fabric of British motoring history. The company was founded in 1861 and exhibited its first “motorcycle” in 1910. By the end of World War II, it employed approximately 28,000 people at 67 factory sites. It had canteens for every stratum of staff, its own magazine, and the main Small Heath site southeast of the city center was so large that engineers used BSA Bantams to move between departments.